“And as for this book,” said Hermione, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard . . . I’ve never even heard of them!”
“You’ve never heard of The Tales of Beedle the Bard?” said Ron incredulously. “You’re kidding, right?”
– Taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
About the Book:
The Tales of Beedle the Bard is a collection of stories written for young wizards and witches. They have been popular bedtime reading for centuries, with the result that the The Wizard and the Hopping Pot and the The Fountain of Fair Fortune are as familiar to many of the students at Hogwarts as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are to Muggle children.
Beedle’s stories resemble Muggle fairy tales in many respects; for instance, virtue is usually rewarded and wickedness punished. However, there is one very obvious difference. In Muggle fairy tales, magic tends to lie at the root of the hero or heroine’s troubles – the wicked witch has poisoned the apple, put the princess into a hundred years’ sleep or turned the prince into a hideous beast. In The Tales of Beedle the Bard, on the other hand, we meet heroes and heroines who can perform magic themselves, and yet find it just as hard to solve their problems as the Muggle heroes do. Beedle’s stories have helped generations of wizarding parents to explain this painful fact of life to their young children: that magic causes as much trouble as it cures.
Another notable difference between these fables and their Muggle counterparts is that Beedle’s witches are much more active in seeking their fortunes than our fairy-tale heroines. Asha, Altheda, Amata and Babbitty Rabbitty are all witches who take their fate into their own hands, rather than a prolonged nap or waiting for someone to return a lost shoe. The exception to this rule – the unnamed maiden of ‘The Warlock’s Hairy Heart’ – acts more like a Muggle’s idea of a storybook princess, but there is no happily ever after at the end of her tale.
Most of these tales (with the exception of The Warlock’s Hairy Heart) have been copied down by Beatrix Bloxam into a book called The Toadstool Tales; which has since been banned since it had a tendency to induce nausea and vomiting in the children who read them.
The Tales of the Tree Brothers
One story by Beedle is “The Tale of the Three Brothers”. This story was about brothers who meet Death on the road; each in turn tries to outwit him.
In 1998, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley came to hear the legend. The three brothers were Antioch, Cadmus, and Ignotus Peverell. They came to a river which was too deep to wade across, and built a bridge using magic. Death appeared to congratulate them for their ingenuity, and offered them rewards (or so he said; his real intent was to give them traps which would be their undoing, because he felt cheated by their survival.) Antioch asked for a weapon that would always win any battle, a weapon worthy of one who had cheated Death. Death snapped a twig off an elder tree and gave it to him — the Elder Wand. Cadmus asked for something to give him power over Death, for he had lost his loved one before this encounter. It was also an attempt to humiliate Death. Death gave him a river stone, which, by the terms of the deal, became theResurrection Stone. Ignotus, however, did not trust Death, and asked for something that would allow him to avoid Death. Death was trapped by his words, and handed over his own Cloak of Invisibility. The brothers continued on and went their separate ways.
Time passed. Antioch provoked a duel with a wizard he disliked, left him for dead, and afterwards boasted of his unbeatable wand. He was killed that very night by someone who had heard his boasting, and wanted the wand. Cadmus found misery when he brought his former lover back to life with the Resurrection Stone and learned she had been happier dead, ultimately committing suicide in order to truly join her. Ignotus hid from Death his entire life using the cloak until he finally reached a ripe old age, and he gave the cloak to his son. He and Death finally “met as old friends,” and departed as equals.
The items mentioned in the “tale” became legendary artefacts known together as the Deathly Hallows. If joined together, they would make the wielder extremely powerful, the “Master of Death.” (Dumbledore later states that the true Master of Death is one who accepts that it is inevitable, in much the same way Ignotus did. Dumbledore is also the one to reveal finally that the three brothers were the Peverells, though he believes that the tale of how they received the items is a fabrication which would naturally appear around such powerful items, whereas the Peverells simply created the items.)
Lord Voldemort sought the Elder Wand because he believed it would allow him to defeat Harry Potter. However, it was Harry himself who temporarily became the Master of Death, when he ultimately united all three artifacts.
The Fountain of Fair Fortune
There is an enchanted and enclosed garden that is protected by “strong magic.” Once a year, an “unfortunate” is allowed the opportunity to find their way to the Fountain, to bathe in the water, and win “fair fortune forever more.”
Knowing that this may be the only chance to truly turn their lives around, people (with magical powers and without) travel from the far reaches of the kingdom to try and gain entrance to the garden. It is here that three witches meet and share their tales of woe. First is Asha, sick of “a malady no Healer could cure,” who hopes the Fountain can restore her health. The second is Altheda, who was robbed and humiliated by a sorcerer. She hopes the Fountain will relieve her feelings of helplessness and her poverty. The thirdwitch, Amata, was deserted by her beloved, and hopes the Fountain will help cure her “grief and longing.” The witches decide that three heads are better than one, and they pool their efforts to reach the Fountain together. At first light, a crack in the wall appears and “Creepers” from the garden reach through and wrap themselves around Asha, the first witch. She grabs Altheda, who takes hold of Amata. But Amata gets tangled in the armour of a Muggle knight, and as the vines pull Asha in, all three witches along with the knight get pulled through the wall and into the garden.
Since only one of them will be permitted to bathe in the Fountain, the first two witches are upset that Amatainadvertently invited another competitor. Because he has no magical power, recognizes the women as witches, and is well-suited to his name, “Sir Luckless,” the knight announces his intention to abandon the quest. Amatapromptly chides him for giving up and asks him to join their group.
On their journey to the Fountain, the motley band faces three challenges. First, they face a “monstrous white worm, bloated and blind” who demands “proof of your pain.” After several fruitless attempts to attack it with magic and other means,Asha’s tears of frustration finally satisfies the worm, and the four are allowed to pass. Next, they faced a steep slope and are asked to pay the “fruit of their labours.” They try and try to make it up the hill but spend hours climbing to no avail. Finally, the hard-won effort of Altheda as she cheers her friends on (specifically the sweat from her brow) gets them past the challenge. At last, they face a stream in their path and are asked to pay “the treasure of your past.” They attempt to float or leap across but they failed, until Amata thinks to use her wand to withdraw the memories of the lover who abandoned her, and dropped them into the water. At once, stepping stones appear in the water, and the four are able to cross to the Fountain, where they must decide who gets to bathe.
Asha collapses from exhaustion and is near death. She is in such pain that she cannot make it to the Fountain, and she begs her three friends not to move her. Altheda quickly mixes a powerfulpotion in an attempt to revive her, and the concoction actually cures her malady, so she no longer needs the Fountain’s waters. By curing Asha, Altheda realizes that she has the power to cure others and a means to earn money. She no longer needs the waters of the Fountain to cure her “powerlessness and poverty.” The third witch, Amata realizes that once she washed away her regret for her lover, she was able to see him for what he really was (“cruel and faithless”), and she no longer needs the Fountain’s waters. She turns to Sir Luckless and offers him his turn at the Fountain as a reward for his bravery. The knight, amazed at his luck, bathes in the Fountain and flings himself “in his rusted armour” at the feet of Amata and begs for her “hand and her heart.” Each witch achieves their dreams for a cure, a hapless knight wins knowledge of his bravery, and Amata, the one witch who had faith in him, realizes that she has found a “man worthy of her.” The four set off “arm-in-arm” we then learn that the four friends live long, never realizing that the Fountain’s waters “carried no enchantment at all.”
The Wizard and the Hopping Pot
This story is about the legacy of an old man who, in his generosity, used his pot to brew potions and antidotes for other people when they needed his help. On his death, he leaves all his belongings to his only son, who has none of the personal qualities his father had and is his inferior in magic. After his father’s death, the son finds the pot and a single slipper inside it, together with a note from his father that reads, “In the fond hope, my son, that you will never need this”.
Bitter for having nothing left but a pot, and being a Muggle hater, the son closes the door on every person who asks for his help. The first one seeking for his aid is an old woman whose granddaughter is plagued with warts. Closing the door on the old woman, the son hears a clacking in the kitchen and sees his pot has grown a foot and a case of warts. The next one to look for his aid is an old man, whose donkey is lost and cannot go without it to the market to fetch food for his starving family. The son closes the door on him too, and the pot starts making sounds like a donkey. A young woman comes sobbing to the door, hoping for a cure for her sick baby. Again, the son ignores her pleas and shuts the door on her. A few more similar incidents take place, until the son finally gives up and calls all the neighbours to offer them help. As the people’s troubles fade away, the pot empties, until at last out pops the mysterious slipper — one that perfectly fits the foot of the now-quiet pot, and together the two walk off into the sunset.
Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump
A long time ago, in a land far far away, a King decides to keep all themagic in the world for himself. In order to get all the magic, he needs to gather all the witches and wizards in the world, so he forms theBrigade of Witch-Hunters, armed with packs of wild dogs. But first, he needs to learn how to use magic, so he calls for someone with magical abilities to teach him. No real wizards or witches respond, but a Muggle pretends to be a wizard, and offers to teach him, despite not knowing any magic himself.
Soon, the Muggle teacher demands money and treasures for his services, and he hides all these objects in his small house. Babbitty, the king’s washer woman, hides and watches the Muggle as he pulls two twigs from a tree and later pretends these are wands.
While the king and the Muggle are practicing, they hear Babbitty laughing hysterically from her cottage. This enrages the King, who demands that the Muggle help him perform in front of his subjects to show off his new abilities. The Muggle tries to back out by saying he has to go out of town, and cannot help him, but the King threatens to send the Brigade of Witch-Hunters after him, and if anyone laughs while the King is performing, the Muggle will be beheaded. The Muggle heads to Babbitty’s house, where he spies on her, and finds out that she is a real witch. He asks her to help him, or he’ll expose her.
Amused, Babbitty agrees to help out the poor Muggle. He tells Babbitty that she will hide in the bush tomorrow, and make it seem as if the King himself can do magic. While they perform, the crowd is astonished by the disappearance of a hat and a levitating horse; then, one of the members of the brigade asks if the King can make his dead dog return to life. The King tries, but Babbitty does nothing, because she knows no magic can raise the dead. The crowd laughs at the King, and the King wants to know why the spell isn’t working. The Muggle points to the bush, and says a wicked witch is blocking them. Babbitty runs from the bush, and when the hounds chase after her she “disappears”, leaving the dogs barking at a tree.
The Muggle tells the crowd that Babbitty turned into the tree, and that the tree must be cut down, because she is an “evil” witch. The crowd is wild, and the tree is cut down. As the crowd starts to leave, they hear a cackling coming from the stump. Babbitty tells the crowd that real wizards and witches cannot be cut in half, and that they should cut the Muggle in half to prove it. The Muggle confesses he is a fraud, and Babbitty tells them that the King is cursed, and he’ll feel an axe stroke every time a witch or wizard is harmed. So the King makes a proclamation declaring that witches and wizards are protected and that they must not be harmed. Babbitty demands a statue be built of herself, to remind everyone what has been decreed. The King promises it will be done, and erects a statue of her made of gold. Soon after, an old rabbit appears out of a hole in the stump with a wand in its mouth, revealing that Babbity has been hiding in her Animagus form, and she leaves the kingdom. Forever after, the statue of Babbitty remains on top of the stump, and no witch or wizard is ever hurt in that kingdom ever again.
The Warlock’s Hairy Heart
The main character is a handsome, skilled and rich young Warlock who sees emotions as a weakness, and decides to take measures to prevent himself from ever falling in love, using the Dark Arts. The Warlock becomes deluded, believing himself to be envied for his “perfect” solitude, which makes him all the more upset to overhear two servants talking about him; one servant is taking pity on him, while the other is ridiculing him for not having found a wife. This swings a blow to the Warlock’s pride, and he decides to find a beautiful, magically talented and wealthy young woman, so that he will be envied by all.
The next day, he has the fortune of meeting such a woman; though the maiden is both “fascinated and repelled” by the Warlock, he persuades her, along with her family, to come to a dinner feast at his castle. The Warlock attempts to flatter the young woman, using words he steals from a poet. The maiden retorts that she would only believe such lovely words if she thought he had a heart. The Warlock takes her down to the dungeon of his castle and shows her a magic crystal casket, within which lies his own beating heart.
Because the heart had been parted from its body for so long, it had become shriveled and covered in black hair. The maiden asks the Warlock to put his heart back inside his chest, which he does. The woman is so pleased that she runs forwards and embraces him. However, the heart had been consumed by the Dark magic used to remove it, and had degenerated into a savage, bestial state, driving the Warlock to take by force a truly human heart. He tears out the maiden’s heart to replace his own, but he can no longer use magic, so he cuts his own heart out. Thus he and the maiden both die, the Warlock holding both hearts in his hands.
Grumble the Grubby Goat
Grumble the Grubby Goat is a story told to wizarding children. It was Aberforth Dumbledore’s favourite tale, which deals with a goat that attracts flies. Aberforth and his brother, Albus, would get into frequent arguments regarding reading this tale at bedtime, with Albus’ favourite tale which was The Tale of the Three Brothers.
Information taken from Harry Potter Wiki
Picture of The book from: Sodahead.com and Pricerunner.co.uk