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Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack and the Beanstalk is one of the world’s most well-known fairy tales, often prompting discussions about trust and who we can – or…

Jack and the Beanstalk is one of the world’s most well-known fairy tales, often prompting discussions about trust and who we can – or should – trust. In it, a reckless boy named Jack sells their cow to an unfamiliar buyer for some magical beans; these then turn into an enormous beanstalk leading into the clouds where an enormous castle stands.

This tale can teach children the value of money, taking care of animals, and the significance of kindness to others. Additionally, this tale serves as an excellent opportunity to discuss lying and theft as Jack and his family become rich, yet learn not to trust strangers who claim magical powers.

Jack and the Beanstalk has been made into numerous animated adaptations over time, perhaps most famously through Disney’s 1947 adaptation, starring Mickey Mouse as Jack and Donald Duck as the giant. This was Disney’s second attempt at adapting this tale, making it one of their most loved fairy tale movies to this day. In it, we follow Jack as he climbs a huge beanstalk to rescue a golden harp from an enemy giant before returning home with wealth at his fingertips.

Reminiscent of Jack and the Beanstalk’s story can also be seen in an episode of Disney show Happy Tree Friends featuring Giggles as Jack-like character and Lumpy as giant. A similar resemblance can also be found in a 2006 PBS Kids series called Super Why where Whyatt Beanstalk was seen taking on similar role.

As well as animated adaptations, the story has also been depicted on television shows and movies. For instance, The Hughleys broadcast an episode from Season 2 1999 entitled “Two Jacks and a Beanstalk”, wherein Jack buys magic beans in hopes that it would bring prosperity for him and his family. After reaching the top of their beanstalk they discover a giant’s castle on top.

Jim Henson’s company produced a TV miniseries based on this tale in 2001, featuring their creatures as storytellers. Their version explained that when she threw them out the window in anger, they turned into magical beans that sprouted into an enormous beanstalk that led to a giant’s castle in the clouds.

Stephen Sondheim’s 1986 musical production of Into the Woods featured Jack as played by Ben Wright alongside other fairytale characters; also, there was an inadvertently planted beantalk which the giant’s wife used to exact revenge against Jack for betraying her hospitality. More recently, in 2013 Jack the Giant Slayer provided an alternate take on this tale; following an average man up an enemy giant’s beanstalk to save a princess from imminent peril.