AppLit Home Jack Tales / Animal Tales Tina L. Hanlon

"Jack and the Frogs" or "The Three Feathers" 


"Jack and the Frogs." Told by Dianne Hackworth. The Jack Tales Festival. 2002. Also includes "Big Jack & Little Jack" by Connie Regan-Blake, "Jack's First House" by David Joe Miller, Mutsmag by Charlotte Ross, and “Jack and the Doctor’s Girl” by Orville Hicks. Videotape from the 4th annual festival to benefit the Ray and Rosa Hicks fund, August 17, 2002, at Bolick Pottery and Traditions Pottery, near Blowing Rock, NC. For more information, see page The Latest Tale. . . . by Dianne Hackworth in Dianne's Storytelling Site, or call 336-877-4110. Hackworth says this tale stayed in Scotland a long time and it was time to bring it over here. When Jack's parents are deciding who will inherit their farm, the father sends his sons on three quests, for the best ring for their mama, the best tablecloth, and the best wives for themselves. The boys throw three feathers to decide which direction to go, and Jack's falls to the ground. A green frog leads him underground and gives him the most lavish ring and tablecloth when he needs them, better than the fine things Will and Tom find. The frogs play instruments and dance. When Jack wins the first contest, Tom, who is used to getting his way, says stories require doing things in threes. When Jack needs a wife, he is told to take the pretty yellow frog he's been dancing with. She becomes a magic human bride who can turn them into frogs at times, and they dance after Jack wins the final contest. "Time's fun when you're having flies."

Norman, Gurney. "The Three Feathers." Wind, No. 88 (2002): pp. 154-61. The story occurs after Jack's parents die, when he is young and his brothers threaten to put him in an orphanage. He follows Will and Tom, even though they try to get rid of him (as Mutsmag's sisters do). After Jack rescues a dog from some thorns, it leads them to its home with the old king. The king sets up a contest to choose an heir from among the brothers. He blows three feathers in the air to determine each boy's direction and gives them journey cakes. Jack's feather doesn't blow anywhere but he finds a ring on the ground that opens a door leading him far underground, where Mama Frog and her children make him a pretty quilt. Will and Tom come back with ugly old blankets for the quilt contest but when Jack wins, they whine until the king agrees to have another contest, sending them for a necklace fit for a queen. Jack gets beautiful jewels from the frogs while his brothers bring back junk. They insist on another contest because Jack is "too young and dumb and puney." They must "find a woman that would make the best Queen to help rule this sorry kingdom." Mama Frog has Jack wash and put on his wedding clothes. Then she has Jack choose and kiss a young frog that gives him a warm feeling. There appears "the most good-hearted, independent-minded, intellectually gifted, artistically inclined, and physically strong young woman with a knack for gardening." Mama Frog names her Marie Louise von Franz (the name of a contemporary fairy tale critic). Will and Tom, who get wives from a jail and a beer joint, get nearby tracks of land, while the king retires to a cabin in the woods. After Jack and Marie-Louise take the throne, it rains and the "dried-up country" becomes fertile again.

Related Appalachian Tales:

Jack's quest for a cat bride in Cat 'n Mouse

The Frog King

The Snake Princess

Compare with:

The Three Feathers. The Grimm Brothers. No. 63. Household Tales, trans. Margaret Hunt (London: George Bell, 1884). Reprinted at Fairy Tales web site by English Department, Memorial University of Newfoundland. The youngest son, Simpleton, is assisted by toads. His father the king asks his sons to find a beautiful carpet, a beautiful ring, and a beautiful woman. The toad gives Jack a yellow turnip pulled by six mice with a little toad in it, which transforms into a coach and horses with a beautiful woman. Simpleton's brothers think he is so stupid that they can bring home any objects and peasant women. They complain when Simpleton wins and insist that the wives must jump through a ring hung in the center of the hall, thinking the peasant women will succeed and the delicate maiden will jump to her death, but the stout peasant women break their limbs and the former frog jumps gracefully.

The 1857 edition of Grimms' The Three Feathers is reprinted by D. L. Ashliman, University of Pittsburgh. See also his other Animal Bride tales of type 402.

The Frog from Andrew Lang's Violet Fairy Book, based on an Italian tale, is reprinted at the Univ. of Virginia Electronic Text Center, with one illustration from Lang. A peasant woman sets domestic tasks for her three sons' future wives to do. The hopeless, weeping youngest son is helped by a frog who eventually asks him to marry her. He neither accepts nor refuses, so she goes with him in a tiny carriage. Along the way, three witches, who are cured of infirmities by their laughter at the frog, turns the frog into a beautiful girl in a large coach with horses, and gives her money.

This page created 4/12/03   |   Links checked 3/6/04   |   Top of page   |   Last update 6/29/10 0:15 AM


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