Fairy Tale: The Fisherman and the Jenny
There is a fairy tale in the ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS which most of us know about. That is the story of the FISHERMAN AND THE JINNY. The story goes this way that once upon a time there was this fisherman who pulls out a bottle from the sea. He opens the bottle and thus frees this giant Jinny (genie). The Jinny wants to kill him. The fisherman asks him why.
The Jinny replies that when he was first confined in the bottle, in the first hundred years, he in his heart swore that "whoso shall release me, him will I enrich for ever and ever." But a full century went by and no one set him free. Then Jinny made a new covenant. He said "whoso releases me, for him will I fulfill three wishes." Yet no one showed up to set him free for another 400 years. Thereupon he says to himself "Whoso shall release me from this time forth, him will I kill”. It is in the third period that the fisherman frees him. The story then continues this way:
The fisherman speaks up loudly to himself that he does not believe that the Jinny, being so big, could have come out of a bottle this small. The Jinny feels challenged and to prove himself goes back in the bottle to show the fisherman how possible it is. The fisherman quickly puts the lid back on the bottle. So the wit of the fisherman gets the Jinny back in the bottle.
What is this fairy-tale is so popular with children?
A child who is waiting for his/her parents to come back from a party, may go through all those three stages. At first she may say to herself that she will be good if the parents are back soon. Next he may say to himself “I will be always the best if mom and dad come back right now." Finally s/he may feel that s/he will hate them no matter when they come back. Also witting the Jinny back into the bottle is when a child feels so powerful, when overcoming parents with a wit, the parents who are tall and big just like the giants.
I have drawn upon the encyclopedic research of Bruno Bettelheim in the above analysis. His research is presented in the following book:
Brune Bettelheim- THE USES OF ENCHANTMENT: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, Vintage Books, 1977 (P.28-35)
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
January 7, 2007
Text in Persian
This article was first published in soc.culture.iranian in English on April 22, 1994