Fairy Tale: The Fisherman and the Jinny
قصه کودکان: ماهيگير و جن غول پيکر در شيشه
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 returns to 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.
Why is this fairy-tale 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 always be the best if mom and dad come back right now." Finally may feel that s/he will hate them no matter when they come back. Also witting the Jinny back into the bottle and saving her life, 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 for this analysis. His research is presented in a book entitled The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. <Fisherman and the Jinny> is on pages 28 to 35 in the Vintage Books 1977 edition of the book.
Hoping for a democratic and secular
republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
January 7, 2007