Welcome to episode the fourth of Grimm Tales vs. Television! What we have here is an episode entitled “Lonelyhearts,” which turns out to be far creepier than would appear based on the title. Then again, this is Grimm we’re talking about….
The opening quote of this episode is not quite so immediately dark as the last one (Beeware), but the background image does lend a creepy vibe to this one”
Lonelyhearts is not actually based upon a Grimm Brothers tale; it is based, insofar as I can see, upon the tale Blue Beard by Frenchman Charles Perrault. In this original tale, a well-bred and fair-of-face young woman marries a well-to-do gentleman. She took a long time to make the decision, for two main reasons: the first was that the gentleman had a blue beard, which frightened many people. The second was that the gentleman had had several wives already, and none knew what had become of them.
Eventually, however, the young woman was convinced to marry Blue Beard, by way of the parties and entertainments he offered to the young woman and her friends and family as persuasion that he would make her a good husband. After the marriage, it becomes necessary that Blue Beard leaves on a business trip. Before he goes, he invites his young wife to welcome her friends and family to their house for the length of his trip, that she may be happy and entertained without him. He provides her the keys to strongboxes, apartments and storage rooms. all of which she may enter upon her whim. The last key is to a small room in the basement, which she is not to enter upon any circumstance, lest she suffer his displeasure for the disobedience.
Of course, upon his departure and the arrival of her friends and family members, everybody makes merry and enjoys the entertainments the manor house has to offer. The young wife, however, cannot contain her curiosity and ventures downstairs to the forbidden room. This is where the quote comes in, though the version of the story I found phrased it a little differently:
“Having come to the closet door, she made a stop for some time, thinking about her husband’s orders, and considering what unhappiness might attend her if she was disobedient; but the temptation was so strong that she could not overcome it.”
Entering the room, the young wife is horrified to see the bodies of Blue Beard’s previous wives, blood-covered, on the floor of the room. In her shock and fear, she drops the key; picking it up, she flees the room, locking it behind her. Determining she must never let her husband realize what she has done, she tries to clean the bloodstains from the key, only to find that she cannot: the key is magical. When Blue Beard returns home from his journey, he realizes what his wife has done and sentences her to death for her disobedience. Fortunately for the wife, her brothers arrive at the manor house in time to stop Blue Beard from adding her to the downstairs room, and is himself killed in stead.
Another fine and happy tale from the Early Modern Period.
The Grimm episode draws heavily from the original mythology of Perrault’s Blue Beard. The Wesen that is the subject of the tale, Ziegevolk, are referred to once or twice in the show as Blue Beards. This is a supernatural detective show, so there must be a crime to solve, of course. This specific show starts with the murder of a woman, by a shadowy figure. The episode actually evolves into a whole new series of crimes, centered around the Ziegevolk and his actions against….people 😀 As ever, I encourage you to watch the show for the rest of the details because I really like it and don’t want to spoil it for you!
If you’ve seen this episode, or read the original tale, or watch the show, or just generally have any questions, let me know in the comments or send me a message through the Contact Me page!
Main image credits: A nineteenth-century illustration that appears on the Wikipedia entry for Bluebeard.
Quote image credits: NBC’s Grimm