Question: What do you get when you cross evil wizards, bloody eggs, blinged-out skeletons and giant chicken-people? Answer: The most absurdly spastic tale ever told, also known as “Fitcher’s Bird.”
Where it’s from: Collected and published by the Grimm Brothers in Germany, 1812.
Why you’ll love this tale: Personally, I’m fond the giant bird-person. But the nonsense is strong with this one. There’s a lot to ridicule. Read on and see what speaks (re: squawks) to you most.
“Once upon a time there lived a sexual predator named Fitcher….”
OK, the story doesn’t begin like that, but it might as well have.
As I mentioned, our lead villain’s name is Fitcher. And Fitcher’s favorite pastime is kidnapping. He loves to go begging from door-to-door and whenever a pretty girl offers him food, he repays her kindness by kidnapping her. This story is from 1800’s Germany, so instead of a stereotypical white van, Fitcher uses a magical basket to abduct his victims. Then he “makes long legs” and carries them away to god-knows-where.
Note: Fitcher is also a “wizard,” which means that he is a master-level creep. The town is in a perpetual amber alert because of him.
One day, Fitcher goes a-creeping to a house where three daughters reside. Fitcher performs his signature backpack trick on the eldest girl, “makes long legs,” and carries her off to his dark forest lair.
Clarification: Fitcher’s house isn’t so much of a “lair” as it is a “luxurious palace of awesomeness.” It has entire rooms filled with glittering gold and jewels.
In addition to owning a veritable palace, Fitcher is a surprisingly gracious host (at least as far as deviant wizard-perverts go). He wants his victim to be happy living in his evil, pimped-out lair. And it sounds like she was. The girl doesn’t seem to care that Fitcher just abducted her from her front doorstep. The jewel rooms are throwing her off.
One day, Fitcher gives the girl a fistful of keys and announces that he is going away for a few days. He tells her that she is free to explore his jewel-filled lair while he’s gone. But there’s a catch: the girl is forbidden to enter one particular room, under penalty of death. Note: I don’t think Fitcher understands the purpose of keys.
He also gives the girl an egg. He orders her to keep it safe, and to never let it out of sight. If that egg gets lost, he’ll be really ticked off.
Side question: This house has gold and jewel rooms. So why not an “egg room?”
Anyway, Fitcher leaves and the girl begins exploring. For some reason, she diligently obeys all Fitcher’s random egg rules. And yet, she completely disregards his very sincere promise to murder her if she enters the forbidden room. For some reason that doesn’t seem as important to her. So she goes inside. With egg in hand.
Unlike the luxurious jewel rooms in that house, the death room is definitively more utilitarian in style. It’s a masculine space, starkly furnished with a wood block, a gleaming ax, and a blood basin. Like “craftsman” meets “carnage.”
The girl is so shocked at this horrible scene that she drops the egg into the blood basin. Note: she must have forgotten about Fitcher’s murderous threats, as well as the fact that he literally human-trafficked her here in the first place. She manages to fish the egg out of the basin “Double Dare” style, but it’s completely saturated with blood. Like the worst Easter ever.
Try as she might, the girl can’t clean the egg. Blood stains are notoriously tricky to get out. Oxy-Clean may have helped, but unfortunately, this was several hundred years before Billy Mays was invented.
Then right on cue, Fitcher returns. He sees the blood soaked egg. And as promised, he adds another body to the basin.
But alas. Life without a hostage is boring. So after the obligatory slaughter, Fitcher returns to the village and abducts the middle sister. And in true fairy tale style, the exact same story repeats in the exact same way.
Fitcher returns to the village again, and abducts the third sister.
Just as before, Fitcher leaves the newest girl with keys, egg, and his usual death threats. But this time, the third girl is “crafty and sly.” She puts the egg in a safe place (EGG ROOM) before snooping around.
The girl enters the forbidden room, unencumbered by the egg. She discovers the bloody basin, which is now overflowing with her dismembered sisters. The girl collects their bloody stumps together, aligns them like a jigsaw puzzle, and shazam! The sisters magically fuse themselves back to life. The freshly-reanimated girls hide themselves somewhere in the house. And everyone waits for Fitcher to come home.
When Fitcher returns and sees that the egg is blood-free, he announces that the girl has passed the test. Hooray, they can get married now! Note: I’ve never actually seen “The Bachelor,” but I imagine that Fitcher’s egg challenge was its 19th century equivalent.
As her first order of wedding business, the fiancee tells Fitcher that he must deliver a basket of gold to her parents. He has to carry the cargo on his back and is not allowed to stop. The girl claims that she’ll be watching him from the attic window to make sure of this. Even wizards are powerless against a new Bridezilla, so Fitcher doesn’t argue. Nor does he consider the limitations of human eyesight.
Fitcher sets off with the gold, and is completely unaware that the two Frankenstein’ed sisters are stowed away on his back. Every time Fitcher slows down, one of the sisters harps at him from inside the basket. Fitcher believes that the voice is that of his fiancee (who is god-knows-how-many-miles-away). Note: If Fitcher is really a “wizard,” he could’ve used a few years at Hogwart’s.
Meanwhile, back at Fitcher’s lair, the girl is in full Martha Stewart mode and is busy making handmade crafts for the wedding. She finds a human skull, bedazzles it with flowers and jewels, and places it in the attic window facing the road. This is what brides did before Pinterest. It was her best idea.
Then she slathers herself with honey, slashes open a mattress, and rolls around in a pile of feathers until she resembles a giant, sticky chicken. After virtually tar and feathering herself for no apparent reason, she’s ready to hit the town.
Disguised in her makeshift bird outfit, the girl wanders around the village and speaks with various people who are en route to her wedding. Note: news travels fast in this town. She must have tweeted about it. Har, har.
And for some reason, none of these people question how a bird managed to grow human legs, why it reeks of honey, or where it learned to speak in rhymes:
Random People: “Oh, Fitcher’s feathered bird, where from, where from?”
Giant Chicken: “From Fitze Fitcher’s house I’ve come.”
Random People: “And the young bride there, how does she fare?”
Giant Chicken: “She’s swept the house all the way through, And from the attic window, she’s staring down at you.”
The absurdly disguised girl also speaks with Fitcher, who she encounters on his way back home. He doesn’t recognize her, of course. Like everyone else, Fitcher does not question this very-questionable situation. But he smiles and waves at the blinged-out skull, which is sitting in his attic window. Typical Fitcher.
Some time later, Fitcher returns home and is greeted by his wedding guests. And also a vengeful mob. They have been sent to rescue the girl, who is probably still encrusted in honey and feathers somewhere. The vengeful mob traps the wizard inside his house and burns it to the ground. Fitcher and his crew all die a miserable, fiery death.
And there was much rejoicing.
1.) “Fitcher’s Bird” is similar to the French fairy tale, “Bluebeard.” Both are cautionary tales about man caves, and both warn their female protagonists against disrespecting the privacy of serial killers. But unlike Bluebeard, this tale doesn’t portray the women as helpless imbeciles (in Bluebeard, the girl can’t save herself; she waits to be rescued by her brothers). Fitcher’s Bird also doesn’t blame the girls for being sinfully curious about the man’s death room (in Bluebeard, the wife is made to look like a dishonest snooping fool, in spite of the fact that her husband is a murderer and keeps dead bodies in their house). But Fitcher’s Bird does dress the heroine up like a giant chicken…..so there’s that.
2.) The feathers and egg are both symbols of life, safety, and celestial powers, which the girl uses to save her own hide, as well as that of her sisters. This is in contrast to Fitcher’s death symbols, which include the decorated skull and probably the fact that he keeps a blood basin in his house.
3.) If you’re like me, you might be questioning how Fitcher can be called a “wizard,” when he shows us almost no magical powers whatsoever (in fact, he’s kind of a moron). Fortunately, scholars know everything so they have a scholarly answer for this: Fitcher’s “magic” is a metaphor for his sexual attractiveness.
Got that? Good. Now check out this classic “Fitcher’s Bird” illustration by the artist, Arthur Rackham (and vandalized by yours truly).
If the final girl was able to bring her sisters back to life, then why didn’t she save the other slaughtered women…instead of bedazzling their skulls?
This Line is BANANAS:
I enjoy the phrase “he made long legs.” Makes me think of Stretch Armstrong.
Honey-glazed chicken. Eggs on the side. Hold the blood.
(WIZARD) This is an easy project, since all you need to be a “wizard” is a basket and a dulled intellect. Note: according to scholars, wizards should be “sexy,” too. This project has COSPLAY written all over it!
This story is so flipping spastic, it feels like it’s being told by an attention-deficient squirrel. That said, I appreciate the enthusiasm and the abundance of strangeness that “Fitcher’s Bird” has to offer. I give this tale 4 eggs out of 12 eggs.