Reading Notes: Week 12, English Fairy Tales: Fairy Ointment, Part B

There was a nurse who acted as a caretaker for ill adults and children. In the middle of the night, a mysterious old man showed up at the nurse's door. The man claimed that he needed her help to care after his wife and their baby. The wife was too sick to care for the child by herself. This introduction held a strict perspective of gender roles, as the narrator introduced the conflict as if the father of the child is too lazy and does not believe he should take care of the child himself. Is the old man sexist, or does he just truly not have the skills or time to rear the child on his own? I think a modern-day retelling of this story could implement the father's role as a partial caretaker of the child-- not just the stereotypical housewife. There is some interesting foreshadowing in the first paragraph with the imagery used to describe the man, especially about the horse with a large coal-black coat and fiery eyes. This imagery invoked fear and anticipation for the well-being of the the nurse. When arriving to the residence, the nurse took the baby from the mother ans is instructed to put ointment over the baby's eyes when they open. Why weren't the baby's eyes opening to begin with? Out of curiosity, the nurse tested the ointment on her own eyes in private from the family. The ointment caused her perspective to change entirely. The author uses detailed imagery when describing the transformation of the surroundings changing from ordinary to extravagant. This revealed that the family were pixies instead of humans. The woman went home without saying anything to protect herself. Later, the nurse saw the old man again and approached him to reunite with him. The old man realized she could only see him because of the ointment, and he stabbed her eyes out.

Fairy, Wikimedia

Bibliography: J. Jacobs, English Fairy Tales: Fairy Ointment (link)