Every kid loves reading fairy tales. I’m sure you do too! We have all grown up reading some of the very popular fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. However, today we have brought you a very popular French fairy tale for kids, called Riquet with the Tuft.
The best-known version of Riquet with the Tuffet can be found in Charles Perrault’s version. It has been included in Histoires ou Contes du temps passé (Fairy Tales from Past Times with Morals or Mother Goose Tales), 1697. It raises a question for the readers whether one should choose beauty over intelligence or vice versa.
Riquet with the Tuft
Once upon a time a queen gave birth to a baby who had just a tuft of hair on his head. He was quite misshapen and not attractive at all. He came to be called Riquet with the Tuft. A fairy appeared before the queen and assured her, “Your Grace, do not worry. Your son may look ugly but he will be the most intelligent man in all kingdoms. He will be liked and respected by all.” She further added that he would also have the magical power to transfer his intelligence to the girl who married him.
Riquet indeed grew up to be witty and clever. Everyone was charmed by his wit and he was quite popular. However, he walked with a limp, a hunched back, a red nose and an unattractive face. In a kingdom nearby, the king had two daughters. The older girl was astoundingly beautiful but dull-witted. On the other hand, the younger daughter was ugly but intelligent. Hence, she had a lot of visitors from the royal court, whereas the older princess was ignored. This made the older princess very sad.
Riquet Meets the Older Princess in the Forest
One day while she was strolling in the forest, the princess met Riquet with Tuft. On seeing such a beautiful girl sad, Riquet asked her about the reason for her sadness. The older princess told him everything and said she would prefer being ugly and smart than pretty and dumb. Riquet then told her, “I can make you intelligent. I have the magical power to do so, but you have to marry me.” Riquet told her about the fairy’s words and asked her to think about his proposal. They were to be married in a year’s time from that day. The princess hastily agreed, without thinking much. Very soon she became intelligent and now she became very popular like her younger sister.
The proud princess starts rejecting the other princes for being less intelligent than her. She also forgets about Riquet. One day, when she returned to the same forest, she heard some voices beneath the ground. The ground parts and she finds little people preparing for a feast. A few of them come up and start laying tables. She finds out from them that they were preparing for prince Riquet’s marriage the following day. Just then Riquet with the Tuft appeared and told the princess that it was time for them to marry. The princess refused as now she was both beautiful and intelligent. Riquet then asked her, “Apart from my ugly appearance, is there anything that appals you?” The princess said, “No! You are witty, noble, well-behaved and a good-natured man.” Riquet informed the princess that the fairy who gave him the magical power to share his intelligence with his wife also bestowed on his wife the power to make the man she loves handsome. The princess wished for Riquet with the Tuft to become handsome, and the wish came true.
The princess’s father, the king, who was aware of Riquet’s reputation agreed to their marriage and the following day, the two were united in marriage.
Do you think Riquet said the truth? Did the older princess genuinely believe she could magically transform Riquet into a handsome prince from an ugly one? Well, this could be true. However, the princess also listed the good qualities of the prince. So, it is also possible that she realised that she loved him despite his unattractiveness. It is often said that we tend to overlook the flaws of the person we adore. We tend to love and respect them for their good qualities. Hence, we should never judge a person by their outward appearance.
1. What did the fairy inform the queen when Riquet was born to her?
When Riquet the Tuft was born, he only had a tuft of hair and was quite an ugly baby. A fairy had visited the queen and assured her that despite the unattractive appearance of her son, he would be very intelligent and witty. He would garner the respect of all. Moreover, Riquet would also have the power to share his intelligence with his wife.
2. What is one lesson that we can take away from the story?
The French fairy tale of Riquet with the Tuft teaches its readers that outward beauty is only superficial and holds little value. Our inner good qualities are our truest possessions. Hence, despite being ugly both Riquet and the younger princess had more popularity and admiration while the older princess did not. Later, when she became intelligent, she too attracted more popularity. However, self-pride and arrogance are wrong, which the older princess possessed.