Ranking “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”
Although we don’t know much of Beedle the Bard (other than he had a luxurious beard), his 15th-century short stories have been passed down from wizard to wizard for generations. As common as “Cinderella” or “Sleeping Beauty” are to Muggle children, The Tales of Beedle the Bard is known by every wizard-born Hogwarts student. Luckily for us all, JKR published Hermione’s translations of the ancient runes and included commentary by our favorite Hogwarts Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. While recently rereading these magical tales, I decided it would be fun to rank the stories from best to worst (according to me) and share my list with you. I’ll try not to let Professor Dumbledore’s commentary sway my opinion…
1. “The Fountain of Fair Fortune”
This story is feel-good enough for a Disney adaptation, if you ask me. It’s no wonder that Dumbledore says it’s “the most popular of Beedle’s tales” (ToBtB 39)! In just a few pages, Beedle the Bard teaches us the importance of teamwork, friendship, self-confidence, and letting things go. What more can you want in a short story – or any kind of story, for that matter? As pointed out in the introduction, these “are all witches who take their fates into their own hands” (ToBtB IX). In this evidently controversial story involving wizard/Muggle fraternization, it’s hard for me not to find a bit of myself in each of the characters. And yeah, I am rooting for these friendships and the romantic relationship to last forever, thanks for asking. You betcha I’ll be reading this to my future children someday.
2. “The Tale of the Three Brothers”
This is, of course, the story that most of us are familiar with, having been introduced to it in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, with the last book in our beloved saga partially revolving around the hunt for the Hallows. We learn a lot about the limitations of magic and how sometimes it can be too good to be true. We see the lifesaving value of cleverness and wisdom. And we are taught about the downfalls of pride. An epic tale from start to finish, “The Tale of the Three Brothers” makes me excited enough to chase after the Deathly Hallows.
3. “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot”
Who doesn’t love a good story about a spoiled brat being taught a lesson by a (should-be) inanimate object? Not only that, but we also get a glimpse into pro-Muggle relations propaganda. Do you believe that those with magical abilities should help those without? This story may just change your mind. I can see why certain families may have wanted it banned…
4. “Babbitty Rabbitty and Her Cackling Stump”
I respect the story of Babbity because of how realistic it is. Witches and wizards were greatly feared by Muggles throughout history, and an inside look at what wizards would’ve done in these situations is welcome. Once again, we learn the value of cleverness, and even more, the value of powerful magic. If Babbity had not been able to turn into a Rabbity, the story would’ve ended much differently. Thank goodness for Animagi and this witch’s quick thinking!
5. “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart”
Listen, I don’t consider myself anywhere near an optimist, but this story gives me the bad kind of chills. Dumbledore mentions in his commentary that the story has never been changed – likely because “it speaks to the dark depths in all of us” (ToBtb 55). But realistically, how many of us actually know someone who doesn’t want to feel loved? Although Dumbledore points out that there are individuals like this in the magical world (read: Voldemort), it just sounds too fantastical to be true for us Muggles. Without the reasoning behind the story, we are left with cruelty, brutality, and gore. Count me out.
Which is your favorite of these short stories? Do our rankings match up? Let me know in the comments!