The Robber Bridegroom is a fairy tale written by Eudora Welty in 1942. Eudora’s story is based on the original The Robber Bridegroom by Grimm Brothers. The story is about the life of Rosamond, a beautiful woman who was raised by an evil step mother after the death of her mother. The novel opens with Mike Fink meeting the robber Jamie Lockhart, who later on kidnapped Rosamond. As it progresses, it follows another character, Clement Musgrove to his home where he stays with his second wife Salome and Daughter Rosamond. After Rosamond was kidnapped by the robber Jamie Lockhart, they both fall in love with each other. Despite all the misunderstandings and incidents in the story, Welty’s story ends up with a happy marriage between Rosamond and Jamie and the evil Salome is destroyed. Welty presents the theme of evil in the society through the character of Salome, Rosamond’s step mother and Jamie Lockhart. Salome is depicted as an evil female in the society who is later destroyed in the story, as the step daughter lives a happy life. In addition, Lockhart is depicted as a bandit in the beginning of the story, but as it ends, he is a good man.
The story takes place in the Southern United States where a beautiful merchant’s daughter is stolen by a thief who is the bridegroom in the story. The main character is affected by the setting because, she finds herself being brought up by a wicked step mother and she cannot do anything about it. Entzminger calls Rosamond’s step mother the black seductress who made was jealous of her beautiful step daughter (Entzminger 201). However, as the story ends the setting changes as Rosamond is able to live a happy life with Jamie away from her step mother’s evil plans. The setting is a family setting and the conflicts that arises especially between a step mother and a step daughter. Rosamond lived a happy life while her mother was still alive, but after her death, her life changed because she had to keep up with her evil step mother.
Rosamond is another character that is powerful and creative. She was an artistic figure who sang beautiful songs and told creative and interesting stories. However, Salome used her evil mind and tricks to make Rosamond’s life difficult. She tricked her into seeing Jamie and gave her a portion to remove the stains from her bandit lover’s face, and this separated them (Welty 62). Later on, she found Jamie and refused to follow her step mother’s advice and the truth brought them back together. Rosamond and Jamie Lockhart get married after she was able to overcome her ugly step mother’s evil tricks. Salome is a character that is used by the author to depict evil in the society.
The novel is about grace and greed, and good and evil. The focus of the story is about the relationship between Rosamond and Jamie whereby, it all started with greed and the greed is overcome by grace. In addition, it focuses on a step-mother’s evil ambition, but she never succeeds in ruining the protagonist’s life. Initially, Rosamond was a beautiful daughter who was raised by a step mother who mistreated her, but she was always patient and cheerful despite the ill treatment from her step mother. Rosamond was sent to pick some herbs by s step mother and that was her first encounter with Jamie Lockhart and he robbed her clothes without harming her. She was able to go back home alive and gave her step mother her creative stories as usual. Therefore, it is evident that, the evil tricks of her step mother of Rosamond being killed by the Goat failed, thus evil was overcome by good.
Eudora Welty’s novel The Robber Bridegroom is a combination of both fantasy and reality as she explores the human nature and dual personalities. Every character in this story relates to the Mississippi folklore whereby the author blends the culture with fantasy. Musgrove represents a father who has to be the head of the family and take care of the wife and daughter. On the other hand, the step mother presents evil in the family, but as the story ends, evil is replaced with good. Additionally, Rosamond presents a daughter who has to obey his father and even her step mother irrespective of the harsh treatment she gets from her.
The plot of the story is a little bit similar to the original story by the Grimm’s because, Eudora borrows some aspect from it. For instance in the plot of the story, she includes bandits in the wood, a wicked step mother who never cared about her step daughter, loyal fathers who make decision for their daughters, and the intervention of animals. In addition, she expresses the naivety of women through Rosamond and how she was able to overcome a patriarchal society. Rosamond was a daughter who found herself in a family where she has to be raised by step mother after her mother’s death. However, she was able to endure all the evil plans and mistreatments from her step mother and ended up happy as her step mother died from her evil.
Welty puts a lot of importance in the names of the characters she uses in her book. Most of the names in the story have a symbolic significance. For instance, as we read the book, characters like Jamie Lockhart and Mike Fink are offended when the other people fail to remember their names. Meaning the names of the characters in the story were very important for their identity. Apart from forgetting names, there is a mistaken identity in the story but Welty insists in individual identity in the story. On the other hand, there is Salome who depicts a wicked ugly step mother that does not like her beautiful step daughter. She is depicted as a seductive woman whereby, after the attack, the author writes that, she was left alone and this made her convince Clement Musgrove to marry her. In addition, she uses her power over her step daughter out of envy because Rosamond was beautiful than her. Her wickedness makes her send her step daughter in the dangerous woods alone just to kill her. Salome is an example of a wicked female character in the story.
Similarly, there is Jamie Lockhart, the Robber Bridegroom who represents the theme of good and evil which is an evident theme in the novel. He was able to save Musgrove’s life but at the same time, he kidnaps his daughter, yet Musgrove loved her daughter so much (Kreyling 140). In addition, he had double identities, one of a bandit, and the other a good man and this is evident through Welty’s words “He is "a gent and a robber all in one" (Welty 89). Jamie Lockhart was a man with dual identities, a good person and a bandit, and even though Rosamond’s father knew it, he loved his good side because he saved his life. Lockhart was a bandit but later on we see him becoming a good man in the story which symbolizes god overcoming evil.
As the story ends, the mood of the story and of the characters is different. Rosamond is now happily married to Jamie Lockhart who is now a changed man. In addition, the wicked Salome is no longer in the picture and that is why evil was overcome by good (Entzminger 34). The patriarchal society is restored as evil is destroyed as good triumphed. The Robber Bridegroom is fairy tale that explores family life and how good triumphs over evil. Welty’s book is a fairy tale with no specific theme, but through her characters, the reader is able to understand how family was like in the Southern United States. In addition, the book presents the theme of evil and good through its main characters. Moreover, there is the duality of personalities and this affects the moods of the characters. Nonetheless, Eudora Welty’s The Robber Bridegroom is an excellent adaptation of the original book by Brothers Grimm. Welty did a good job in the plot and the presentation of her characters. In addition, through the story, the author was able to show two sides of the characters and how evil was overcome in the end of the story.
Sally, McMillan. Fairy Tales or Historical Records: Tales of the Natchez Trace in Eudora Welty's The Robber Bridegroom. Southern Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of the South; Spring/Summer, 10.1 (2003): 79. Print.
Entzminger, Betina. The Belle Gone Bad: White Southern Women Writers and The Dark Seductress. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002. Print.
Kreyling, Michael. "The Robber Bridegroom and the Pastoral Dream." In Eudora Welty, edited by Harold Bloom, 135-148. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.
Welty, Eudora. The Robber Bridegroom. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1942. Print.
Welty, Eudora. Stories, Essays, & Memoir. Ed. Richard Ford and Michael Kreyling. New York: Library of America, 1998. Print.