Shakespeare, Jack, and the Beanstalk

In the [amazon_link id=”1591582601″ target=”_blank” ]English folktale[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0763621242″ target=”_blank” ]Jack and the Beanstalk[/amazon_link], the giant living at the top of the beanstalk says, “Fee-fi-fo-fum!” When Jack sees the huge beanstalk that grew in his backyard, he immediately decides to climb it. He arrives in a land high up in the clouds that just happens to be the home of a giant. When Jack breaks into the giant’s castle, the giant quickly senses that a human being is near saying, “Fee-fi-fo-fum! I smell the blood of an Englishman.” The [amazon_link id=”0199601089″ target=”_blank” ]Oxford English Dictionary[/amazon_link] defines “fie” as a word “used to express disgust or outrage.” “Fum” is derived from “fume” meaning to “feel great anger.”

Shakespeare uses many “oaths” and exclamations throughout his work. In Shakespeare’s [amazon_link id=”0743484959″ target=”_blank” ]King Lear[/amazon_link], the character of King Lear cries, “Fie, fie, fie; pah, pah!” (Scene 20, line 124).* This line is quoted from [amazon_link id=”0521765226″ target=”_blank” ]The Quarto Text[/amazon_link] (1608,) which is generally accepted as what Shakespeare originally wrote, versus the [amazon_link id=”0521044316″ target=”_blank” ]1623 Folio[/amazon_link] version generally accepted as he substantially revised it (Wells 909). The Quarto Text is a one-act play in 24 scenes. This same line is found in Act 4, Scene 5 in the Folio.

*[amazon_link id=”0199267170″ target=”_blank” ]The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works, 2nd Edition[/amazon_link] edited by John Jowett, William Montgomery, Gary Taylor, and Stanley Wells © Oxford University Press 1986, 2005.


Attention Students: to cite this web article in the current MLA-style, please use the example below.

Dixon, Catherine Jo. “Shakespeare, Jack, and the Beanstalk .” Feast Of Languages. Catherine Jo Dixon, 30 September 2011. Web. [today’s date].

Note: The citation entry on the “Works Cited” or “Bibliography” page must have a “hanging indent.” The second line should be indented 5 spaces.

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English literature students most commonly use the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) style to write their papers. This citation reflects the [amazon_link id=”1603290249″ target=”_blank” ]MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th edition[/amazon_link] and/or the [amazon_link id=”0873522974″ target=”_blank” ]MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, 3rd edition[/amazon_link]. For additional information, I recommend a free online writing lab from Purdue University: “The Purdue OWL” which has current, credible information and reliable examples.

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