Sweetheart Roland has many familiar elements. The tale it is most familiar to in the Grimm’s anthology is Fundevogel. We have a pairing again between a couple who can magically turn themselves into other objects.
Once upon a time there was a witch who had two daughters. Yes, she really is a witch, not just a pretend witch. One daughter is ugly and cruel, but she loves her the most because that is her own daughter. The other daughter is beautiful and kind, but she hates her because she is not her own daughter.
One day the ugly daughter told the mother that she would like to have the beautiful daughter’s apron. The witch says it is high time that the other daughter is dead and that she will do the deed this upcoming night. She tells her own daughter to make sure she sleeps on the far side of the bed so she won’t accidentally chop her to pieces. It just so happens that the other daughter is hiding in the corner and has heard the whole thing.
During the night she gently pushes the ugly daughter to the close side of the bed. The witch comes in and chops her own daughter’s head off. The good girl leaves the house and runs to her sweetheart, Roland. She tells Roland that they must leave immediately. Roland agrees, but tells her to grab the witch’s wand, otherwise they will never get away. The girl goes back to grab the wand, but also leaves three drops of her step-sister’s blood in the house. She leaves one drop in front of the bed, she leaves another drop in the kitchen and she leaves the last drop on the stairs. Then she and Roland make like a tree and leave.
The witch wakes up and calls to her daughter. “Where are you?” The drop of blood on the stairs answers and says, “Here, on the stairs, I am sweeping.” The witch looks at the stairs and sees no one there. She calls again, “Where are you?” The second drop of blood says, “Here in the kitchen, I am warming myself.” There was no one in the kitchen. She calls again, “Where are you?” The third drop of blood answers, “Ah, here in the bed, I am sleeping.”
The witch goes to the bed and sees her own daughter lying dead in her blood. She could sense that her step-daughter was hurrying away with her sweetheart Roland. She determines to go after them. She puts on her many league boots, which enable her to do an hour’s walking with each step. It wasn’t long before she overtook the girl and Roland. The girl was smart and used the wand to turn Roland into a lake and herself into a duck. The witch tried to entice the duck with breadcrumbs, but it didn’t happen. The witch had to go home defeated. After this Roland and the girl resumed their natural shapes and walked the entire night.
The girl changed herself into a flower and changed Roland into a fiddler. The witch catches up to the two again and knows that the flower is her step-daughter. She asks the fiddler if she may pluck the flower for herself, he says, “But of course, but I’m going to play to you while you do so.” He then begins to play the fiddle, but it’s an enchanted song and the witch is forced to dance. The faster and wilder the fiddler plays the more vigorously the witch has to jump. She is soon cut and scratched from head to foot by the thorns on the bushes. She kept bleeding and dancing until she was dead.
Roland tells his girlfriend that he will go to his father to arrange the wedding. The girl plans to stay in the area, but as a red stone land-mark. When Roland got home he was enticed by another woman and he forgot his maiden waiting for him in the wilderness. The girl stayed there for a long time and then she changed herself into a flower. She thought someone would come her way and trample her down.
A shepherd kept his sheep in the field and saw the beautiful flower. He picked it and put it on his chest. He took it home and strange things started happening at his house. If he went to sleep and the house was dirty, he would awake to find it clean. He would come home for lunch and food would be there. He was happy for all the food and housework, but he was also a little freaked out.
He went to a wise woman to consult her about the house-cleaning ghost. She told him to listen for movement in the night. If he heard anything move, he should throw a white cloth over that thing and that would break the enchantment. He waits, and he sees the chest opening. Out comes the flower he plucked. He threw a cloth over it and it turned into a beautiful girl. She confessed to cleaning his house. He offers to marry her, but she says she is waiting for her sweetheart Roland. She agrees to continue cleaning the house.
Soon it was time for Roland’s wedding to the other woman. It was a custom for all the girls in the area to come and sing to the new couple. The girl was distraught to learn that Roland was marrying another and didn’t want to go to the wedding, but some other maidens convinced her to go anyway.
When the girl began her song, Roland was broken from his forgetfulness, he remembered who she was and said, “I know the voice, that is the true bride, I will have no other!” He remembered everything and they got married.
He forgot who she was, a likely story, a likely story…jerk.
So we have similarities in this tale to the tale of Fundevogel. It doesn’t have that same incestuous ring that Fundevogel has though. The girl and Roland in this tale actually turn themselves into one of the same things that Fundevogel and his step-sister turn themselves into, that being a pond and a duck. Notice we also have the idea of dancing to death. That happened in the tale of Snow White to the evil queen. Also remember, in the movie Shrek Forever After, that the Pied Piper makes people dance against their will, which also happens in this tale.
Goodness, some of these step-mothers are terrible people! I’m actually kind of glad I never had a step-mother, but I’m also kind of sad because everyone else has a step-mother and I never did.
The apron, let’s talk about that. Most of us don’t go around wearing aprons. The apron is a forgotten relic of days past in which women’s days were filled with washing clothes by hand and making apple pies from scratch with pig lard. An apron was a necessity. I do have two aprons in my possession. One apron is for the kitchen, and honestly, I don’t use it very often anymore because I don’t do nearly as much baking as I used to. The other apron is a denim apron with pockets and it’s for doing artwork in. I know there are these cutesy aprons I could buy, but why bother? I don’t do enough apron work to need an apron of that sort.
A girl’s apron was like her best friend, well, maybe the relationship was not that close, but it was pretty close. Your apron went everywhere with you. It helped you clean. It helped you do the laundry. It helped you make pie. It helped you kill chickens. If someone happened to have a particularly pretty apron or a well-made apron, there was sure to be some envy, believe it or not. In fact, one of the Appalachian feuds that ended in such a bloodbath, was actually started because one woman saw her apron on another woman’s clothesline. How it got there I don’t know, but it resulted in quite a few dead bodies.
I don’t particularly think that Roland deserves his girlfriend’s devotion. He went home and found another woman. Not that some men don’t deserve some second chances, because second chances are something that some women are magnanimous enough to give some of the men that try to woo them and the men should be forever grateful for those second chances and never take the woman for granted, ever, ever. I said ever! *Ahem*
All kidding aside, the girl is kind enough to take this dork back when he’s about to marry someone else. That’s kind of her, but what about the other woman? Doesn’t she love Roland too? The story does not say that she is a witch or anything. It does hint that he is enticed or has a spell cast upon him, but what woman doesn’t know how to cast a spell upon a man? If you’ve got it, you’ve got it Baby. Let’s say she did cast a spell on him, was it for love or was it just because? We do encounter stories in which a woman really admires a man, but he won’t pay her the time of day, so the woman goes off to conjure Granny, or whomever, and gets a love spell. Exhibit A: Tom Riddle’s mother, you know, Voldemort? His mother casts a love spell on his father. I kind of want to lean in the direction that this other woman wasn’t all that bad.
Devotion. Devotion and murder. Murder and devotion, sometimes they’re the same thing, but not in this case.
This girl is devoted to her sweetheart Roland. He must have been pretty keen on her as well if he was ready to help her run away at the drop of a hat, or the drop of an axe as the case was. He not only helps her run away, he also helps her commit matricide. That’s devotion for you. If a man really loves you, he’ll help you kill your step-mother, said no one ever. Well, me, I guess I said it, but don’t take me seriously.
I guess it does not pay to be a witch. This woman is going around being a witch and she ends up having to dance to her death. If you’re too much of a witch your step-daughter will kill you. Imagine this witch doing all of her evil deeds. She loves her daughter, but persists in her evilness. In the end, she ends up murdering her own daughter. That has to be a tough thing to have gone through. She shouldn’t have been murdering anyone anyway. You’re not supposed to go around murdering people. I guess her step-daughter showed her.
I have to wonder if the step-daughter has no feeling for step-sister. Surely, there must be some sisterly feeling there? I guess not though, because she essentially caused her step-sister to be murdered. Does this girl not regret this at all? I guess just as long as she has her Roland she’s ok with whatever bad things she might perform.
Eh…I’m not too fond of Roland’s actions. I’m not overly impressed with these people.