Episode 193: Beedle the Bard, Story 5 – A Haunting Honesty

We’ve reached the final story in the Tales of Beedle the Bard as Alohomora! takes a closer look at The Tale of the Three Brothers. Join Rosie, Kat, Alison and Guest Host Jessica as they explore the origins of the Deathly Hallows origin story.

On Episode 193 we discuss…

→ Rivers of Death
→ The Three Brothers
→ The Gifts
→ Using the Hallows
→ The Pardoner’s Tale
→ A Different Dumbledore
→ Scepticism or Secret Keeping?
→ To Remain a Fool

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  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    Thank you for another wonderful episode! This tale deserves the attention you gave it.

    Different people adapting stories at different times is very interesting. Tales change over the decades and centuries and it’s kind of amusing how the similarities to other stories come and go. One tale I remembered during this episode is “Krabat” (as told by Otfried Preußler in 1971). At the beginning of the book Krabat, an orphan boy, is 14 and he is lured into “the Mill at the Black Water” by the master of the mill to become an apprentice there – for the daily work in a grain mill and for Black Magic. 11 other young men learn there, and one of them, Tonda, becomes sort of an older brother for Krabat, who is the youngest of all of them. While magic makes the hard work easy, in new moon nights the young men have to work their hardest for a strange man called the “Gevatter” (godfather) who arrives at midnight bringing bones for grinding in the mill. You’re supposed to associate him with Death, and he is the one who grands the master of the mill his eternal life, as long as one of the young men dies each year on New Year’s Eve. At the end of Krabat’s first year Tonda is the one who has to face the master in a magical duel, and he loses. I compare Tonda to Cadmus, who hoped to marry a girl, but she died. Tonda’s love, Worschula, had hoped to free him from the magical contract that bound him to the master, but she was killed because the master learned of their plan and he does not allow the men to get in contact with anyone outside of the mill.

    I can’t identify a character who corresponds with Antioch, but Ignotus und Krabat can be compared. Krabat survives because he is humble and works together with the most cunning of the other fellows to end the reign of the master, and he has become wise enough at the end of his three years at the mill to reject his magical skills in favour of being with the woman he loves.

  • Laurel Phoenix

    The description of Death in this has, in part, reminded me of the character of Death in The Book Thief. In both pieces, Death is personified, an actual character and tends to appear after the potential death-causing experience. It appears in each of these cases that Death is almost a collector, who comes for a person’s soul at the point of death. The major difference between the stories is the character of Death in The Book Thief is almost reluctant in his task, not enjoying it as Death in The Tale of the Three Brothers. This particular similarity of the two characters of Death still jumps out at me each time I read this story.

    • Alison

      Oh I hadn’t thought of that one! But you’re right. What a great connection! (to my favorite book after Harry Potter, no less!)

      • ISeeThestrals

        I came across a French cover of Beedle the Bard. At least I think it’s French. It depicts Dumbledore reading Beedle the Bard while making his notes. I don’t have twitter and didn’t see a way to e-mail you the link to the image.

    • Mischief Managed

      I had thought of that as well, actually! I just forgot to mention it during the discussion…we were talking about so many other things it just never came up! It’s a very interesting comparison, and I love that contrast between Death’s reluctance in Book Thief vs. Death’s eagerness in The Three Brothers. The Three Brothers version of Death is much more akin to what we typically think of Death, which fits for the fairy/folk tale genre…but The Book Thief gives such a different look at the idea of death itself. I feel like we could do an entire podcast just discussing the implications of those differences!

  • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

    On the question if Harry had some protection from death through the Invisibility Cloak, as he inherited it after James died, I like the idea very much. The blood-protection is already very intangible and sometimes hard to wrap your mind around, and the ancient cloak protecting the person who is entitled to it without actually covering them is an interesting thought. Harry has enough close calls during his years at Hogwarts when he is in possession of the cloak. But it wasn’t exactly a picnic for him until he reached Hogwarts age.
    Do we know if the accidental magic that young magical children generate in risky situations is always beneficial for them? I guess it’s possible that a child could be harmed by their own unintended magical outbursts. Harry get’s in trouble sometimes, but he is never really harmed by anything his magical talent enables him before he learns that he’s a wizard. We could say that’s because of the Cloak.

    • SnapesManyButtons

      While I like the idea of James providing some level of protection through the Cloak, I thought just the opposite. I don’t believe the Hallows can protect you from death unless you have all three and are the Master of Death. In the story the brother who got the Elder Wand was able to be killed in his sleep and the Wand taken from him. The brother with the stone was able to kill himself, and the story says the brother with the Cloak, “finally took off the Cloak of Invisibility,” before he met Death. So he remained under the Cloak to hide from Death. It’ s a nice thought, but I don’t think the Hallows work that way.

      • HowAmIGoingToTranslateThis

        I agree, the Hallows don’t have the purpose of protecting from Death, but the Cloak can be used in that way. Ignotus did that knowingly and some of his descendants may have, too. The idea of the Cloak protecting even when it is not being used at the moment is an attempt to link it to other concepts of magical protection, both in Harry’s world as in other story spheres.

        • SnapesManyButtons

          I see that the Hallows can protect you from death when they are actually being used, but I don’t see that they make you impervious to death just by owning one. Certainly in the case of the Cloak and Wand you can protect yourself from death, but I see no indications that any of the Hallows offers protection when not being used. Owning the Cloak certainly didn’t protect James, so why would it protect Harry? It’s a nice theory, I just don’t see any support for it in the text.

  • Soc.forRescueofVanishedAnimals

    Would Snape have used the Stone? Now that question set me on a long trail of musing, and I still haven’t come to a decision. My initial thought was no, not if he were fully informed about how it actually works. Snape is a complete master of himself and his emotions, and conditioned to suppress his desires in order to make the smart move in a situation. He would not want to be around a mere simulacrum of Lily or to cause her any further pain. Yet, Dumbledore fell prey to the temptation of the Stone, in spite of his knowledge about it, his wisdom, and his self-control … If Snape did try to use the Stone, I think he would do so for the same reasons as Dumbledore did, in order to apologize to her. But I could also see him being somewhat afraid of the idea — probably the only thing that would mean so much to him as to make him genuinely afraid. I’m curious what everyone else thinks!

    I’m finding the Beedle the Bard episodes highly enjoyable, by the way! Very thoughtful discussions by the hosts and guests. Alohomora, you never let us down!

  • MartinMiggs

    Just because the Hallows exist doesn’t mean the fairy tale is completely accurate. Afterall it is just a FAIRY TALE. This is addressed in the Harry Potter series when Harry interrupts “sorry but Death spoke to them” its a fairy tale as Hermione said. Later on even Dumbledore does say he believes the brothers were just extremely powerful wizards who created extremely dangerous objects. Death does not exist in the way it does in the tale. The reason the younger brother found a wife with his cloak always on is because he didn’t always have it on. Again it’s a fairy tale created by a guy who thinks Animagi can speak in their animal form and not a history book with accurate facts