Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Jack

Jack is an ubiquitous character in English and Cornish fairytales. The tales revolve around an often weak but clever character named Jack.  Though the tales are generally grouped together as the Jack Tales, the stories do not necessarily involve the same person.  Included in the Jack Tales are stories such as Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack the Giant Killer, and Little Jack Horner. Jack is a character known to be a folk hero because of his lack of strength or skill as a warrior that puts him within reach of common folk.  Unlike most heroes who are strong and virtuous, Jack is known to be lazy and a bit of a trickster, often getting himself into trouble through his antics, even though he often gets himself out of trouble with his quick wit and clever tongue.

Several characters in modern fiction and many RPG characters are based on the Jack archetype. Matrim Cauthon from Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series is a prime example of the Jack archetype, so much so, he is tied to the name Jack through out the series, as in Dance with Jak-o’-the-Shadows.

Bad habits always payoff in the long run” –Matrim Cauthon
(find picture of Mat)

Jack-o’-Lantern is also the subject of many characters in folklore, fiction writing and in RPGs. From Jack of the Lantern in British, Welsh, Scottish and Irish folktales, to  The Scarecrow in Batman, and Jack Skellington in A Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack o’ Lantern has been explored many times and inspired many stories, both modern and contemporary. Jack o’ Lantern can be seen as a victim, as he was tricked by the Devil and wanders the world in the afterlife, with no place to go. He lived his life to sinfully to be allowed into heaven and he tricked the Devil to never take his soul so he is not allowed into hell either. Alternately he can be seen as a villain as he is tricky and seen to haunt graveyards and the Irish countryside. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! Thanks for the information. I will look at jack o lanterns differently now.