|Three Billy Goats Gruff|
|Name||Three Billy Goats Gruff|
|Published in||Norwegian Folktales|
"Three Billy Goats Gruff" (Norwegian : De tre bukkene Bruse) is a Norwegian fairy tale collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe in their Norske Folkeeventyr , first published between 1841 and 1844. It has an Aarne-Thompson type of 122E. The first version of the story in English appeared in George Webbe Dasent's translation of some of the Norske Folkeeventyr, published as Popular Tales from the Norse in 1859. The heroes of the tale are three male goats who need to outsmart a ravenous troll named Phalanx to cross the bridge to their feeding ground.
The story introduces three billy goats (male goats), sometimes identified as a youngster, father and grandfather, but more often described as brothers. In other adaptations, there is a baby or child goat, mama goat and papa goat. "Gruff" was used as their family name in the earliest English translation, by Dasent; the original Norwegian version used the name "Bruse".
In the story, there is almost no grass left for them to eat near where they live, so they must cross a river to get to "sæter" (a meadow) or hillside on the other side of a stream to eat and fatten themselves up. They must first cross a wooden bridge, under which lives a fearsome and hideous troll, who is so territorial that he eats anyone who tries to cross the bridge.
The smallest billy goat is the first to cross and is stopped abruptly by the troll who threatens to "gobble him up!" The little goat convinces the troll to wait for his big brother to come across, because he is larger and would make for a more gratifying feast. The greedy troll agrees and lets the smallest goat cross.
The medium-sized goat passes next. He is more cautious than his brother but is also stopped by the troll and given the same threat. The second billy goat is allowed to cross as well after he tells the troll to wait for his father because he is the largest of the three.
The largest billy goat gets on the bridge but is also stopped by the hungry troll who threatens to devour him. The largest billy goat challenges the troll and dares him to do so. Then the troll jumps up. The big billy goat Gruff knocks him off the bridge with his horns. The troll falls into the stream and is carried away by the current and drowns. From then on, the bridge is safe and all three goats are able to go to the rich fields around the summer farm in the hills. The three billy goats Gruff eat lots of grass and live happily ever after.
The troll character is dirty and smelly and everybody is frightened of him, and I think that heightens the pathos of the ending, because it's a witch hunt, without any evidence.
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Peter Christen Asbjørnsen was a Norwegian writer and scholar. He and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe were collectors of Norwegian folklore. They were so closely united in their lives' work that their folk tale collections are commonly mentioned only as "Asbjørnsen and Moe".
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The story's original Norwegian title in full (a bit less snappy than the English one we know) was De tre Bukkene Bruse, som skulde gaa til Sæters og gjøre seg fede which roughly translates as 'The three Billy-Goats Gruff who were going to mountain pastures to fatten themselves up'. 'Bruse', which is the name of the goats, was translated as 'Gruff' in the first English version, and this translation has stuck ever since but in fact the word refers to the hairy tuft on a goat's forehead