Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Analysis of Puss in Boots OR The Last Good meow in Paris

| The Analysis of
The Last Good Meow in Paris.
Cats have always been rather sinister creatures. (1) Unlike the dog, whom we conquered back in the days of Caveman Og, cats have always had their own agendas the specifics of which we are unable to learn. They arrive and depart as they will and ask only that we feed them or, more accurately, put food out so that they can turn their nose up at it (2)

But the cat by itself may not be the only subject of the story were it so this would be nothing more than a blog about how wonderful cats are.
A cat can look at a king.  May a dog do the same?  I think not

So it is that the story begins Death, or more accurately A death which, if you happen to have read Gaiman, was overseen by the Death so it all works out (3)

Once upon a time there was a miller who died and for everyone else life went on. Although for him the story was over without even the courtesy of a happily ever after the true story starts when his three sons gathered to attend the reading of the will.
The eldest son received the mill which was fair enough. The second son got a donkey and shrugged his shoulders because it was better than nothing but the third and youngest son was given nothing more than a cat and a picture of an aunt that nobody else wanted. He took them and said nothing, not wanting to appear ungrateful in front of his brothers but after they'd gone their separate ways he began to complain at his fate

“Oh Fie and woe!” he lamented as he huddled round the fire that he had made from the aunts picture “What can I do with nothing more than a cat? It's too skinny to eat and too mangy to skin!”
“Don't you worry master” the cat said “I know you didn't mean those horrible things. If you just give me your cloak, hat, bag and boots then I'll see you right Sonny Jim bob” (4)

Now in todays cynical world we would be averse to watching anyone walk away with our clothes and best sack. But because this story takes place in the innocent days of yore and despite the fact that his name wasn't actually Sonny Jim Bob the young man did as the cat asked and then watched him walking away with nothing more than a wave and a promise to return “soon” (5)
Being a cat meant that he was also a hunter par excellence and it wasn't long before he'd filled the bag with rabbits which would have made the young master a nice dinner if our favorite moccasin clad moggy hadn't had other ideas.
There was a castle nearby and where there are castles there are kings (6) and this king in particular was rather surprised when the booted feline made a sweeping bow and presented him with the rabbits in the name of his master, the Marquis of Carabas.
“These old things?” the cat looked smug in that special way that cats do before bowing once again and making his exit.

The next day he returned with a brace of partridges “fresh from the hunt and ready for your kitchens” he announced loud enough that the court could hear “with the compliments of the famous Marquis of Carabas”
This quickly became a regular thing, the beshoed cat would appear, present a gift to the king in the name of the Marquis and then leave without accepting any sort of reward beyond a compliment on the particularly fine boots that he sported.

Because it's human nature (8) to gossip about everything under the sun it seemed that the subject of the Marquis was suddenly on everybodies lips. Who was he? Where did he come from? Nobody knew, a few clever people inspected the books of peerage but couldn't find anything. The man was, in short a mystery.

Naturally this didn't stop people claiming that not only did they know the family but were good friends with the Marquis and had danced with him at the ball, you know, the one you didn't go to and so on. The Marquis of Carabas had in fact become the girlfriend – who lives overseas which is why you've never me her – for everyone who wanted to one up their friend.

Of course with each story the prowess and handsomeness of the Marquis grew until he was able to charm the sun into rising, wrestle the mountains to pebbles and still dance the night away in the arms of his beloved.

The queen, in particular was very interested in the personage of the Marquis and spoke with the our favorite felidae in footwear one day
“Is your master as young and handsome as they say”
“My queen I must say that my master is so very handsome that he only has to look at a field and the flowers bloom for him, Were he to walk through the town every pool boy in the town would be fired immediately. But he dare not visit as he doesn't want to be the cause of such mass unemployment
(9) In fact when he dispatched me here this morning he ordered me to invite you and yours to dine at his castle”
“Did you just pronounce a footnote?”
“It's a cat thing your majesty”
“Oh, well in that case I accept your masters invitation, it will be the social coup of the year”

Finally we return to the millers youngest son. He was still sitting in the road thinking that maybe he should knuckle down and get a proper job since his cat, boots hat and, bag were obviously never coming back. But he was soon proved wrong when, just like the song, the cat came back.
Of course once the cat told him about what he'd been doing the young man soon wished that it hadn't
“You told them what?”
“That you'd be happy to receive them” the cat looked up from cleaning himself “you would wouldn't you?”
“Oh perfectly happy. Except for the fact that I'm not the Marquis of the Caribbean”
“Wherever! I don't have a castle either”
“Boss, boss don't worry about it. I got everything under control” the cat assured him and sauntered off as if it didn't have a care in the world.
“I'm gonna get dogs” the millers son promised himself “great big cat hating dogs”

The day that the royal entourage set out the cat was more than ready and quickly pushed his master into the river with, it must be admitted a little more force than strictly necessary
“Help me!” the shoe wearing tortoiseshell shouted at the carriage as the king went past “Oh sire, please help! The Marquis of Carabas is drowning”
“Why haven't you gone to your masters aid Sir Cat?” asked one of the courtiers whom nobody liked
“He's drowning in water” the cat said slowly “Cat. Water. Do I need to draw you a picture here?”
“Could you lot stop making jokes and rescue me already?” the millers son called out “I am actually in some distress here” with much apologizing and smiles all round he was quickly rescued, dried off, dressed in fine clothes and everyone was quickly on their way again.

“Wouldn't you like to marry such a handsome man?” the queen asked the princess softly
“He is as handsome as they say mother. But I wonder just how rich he really is
“You've been talking to the cat I see”
Of course the cat heard the whispered conversation and smiled “as I said before my queen. My master is very rich but humble, although he owns all the land and the castle that lies yonder he will insist that he doesn't own a thing.
“Is that true?”
“Look at the rags you found him in princess. His fine clothing is now worn by a beggar who he passed on the road and took pity upon”
If there had been room in the carriage the princess would have swooned at this but there wasn't and she settled for a heartfelt sigh instead.

Under the pretense of running ahead to let the castle know that the king and the Marquis were on the way the cat ran ahead of the entourage and with each field he passed he called out to the peasants
“If anyone asks you who your master is then you must tell them that it's the Marquis of Carabas. If you don't then you'll be very sorry” None of the peasants wanted to be very sorry and when the king rode past and asked them they made certain to answer properly
When the cat arrived at the castle he found the door locked and when he knocked his heart quailed to see that it was answered by an ogre who was large, vicious and not in a good mood at all (13)“What do you want cat? I ate the last person brave enough to knock at my door” he leaned down to observe the cat more closely “consider that your warning. I'll keep your boots though”
“I will indeed good ogre. In fact I knocked on your door in order to settle a bet. Earlier today I was talking with some friends of mine and your name came up in the conversation. It was said that you can change your shape into enormous creatures such as elephants and, um, larger elephants”
“Tell your friends that I resent the implication that I am solely versed in pachydermal prestidigitation” the ogre frowned “I can, in fact do other things”
“Now that's what I said” the cat lied with an easy grace “but my friends insisted that we wager upon it and, well here I am”
“Then get you gone brave cat and let them know that I can take any form I desire”
Our favorite feline bowed gracefully and turned to leave but hesitated “Good Sir Ogre I am loath to ask but might I see this magic? It's not that I personally doubt your word but my friends, well they won't like losing their money”
“Fine” the ogre growled “if it gets rid of you. Watch this one fuzzball!” There was a tinkling of little bells and a puff of smoke which cleared to reveal a tiny mouse where the ogre was just a moment ago “are you happy now?”

In a flash the cat had lept on the foolish ogre and ate him in two bites “Very happy” it said and burped before running out to meet the royal carriage and welcoming the royal entourage in the name of his master.

My dear Marquis” the king said “You're a fine handsome young man with a great deal of land and a magnificent castle. You can't swim of course but nobodies perfect. Tell me, are you married?”
“Why no sire” the Marquis said “I'd like to be of course but what would your wife say?”

So it was obvious to anyone with the eyes to see that the princess and the millers son would get married and from time to time the cat, who now wore a selection of boots each day would wink at him and whisper
“You see I'm worth a lot more than any mangy donkey or half ruined mill aren’t I?”

  • The Marquis of Carabas
    • What am I to do with nothing more than a cat? And assorted lamenting from the youngest son.
      It's clear that this youngest son was counting on a large bequest from Dad, given that he lived in fairytale land he should have known that the third son never gets nothing worth that looks like its worth having (14)
    • Why didn't he actually get a job instead of just sitting and waiting for the cat to come back?
      Is he too good to talk to his brother? It's not like he doesn't have experience in the milling industry
  • The titular cat
    • So the cat catches rabbits, pheasants and assorted livestock which is fine and he presents them to the king which is likewise reasonable but on whose lands were all of these things actually caught?
      I don't wish to nitpick but poaching is actually a serious business.
  • The Peasantry
    • Exactly what can a cat do to make the peasants very sorry?
      I used to know a cat who took great delight in hiding under beds and savaging the ankles of the unwary but one day he tackled the wrong person and was very quickly converted which cured him of this behavior (15)..
  • The Ogre
    • If Mr Ogre is so very large and vicious exactly how is it that the king doesn't know about him?
    • How does the “Marquis” explain all the Ogre sized furniture and the fact that all of the pictures are of famous ogres throughout history.

I have to say that this whole thing is a huge con job from start to finish and the only reason that Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack never showed up is that this is PUSS in boots.

From a technical standpoint this is a cleverly masterminded scheme where, even if it looks as though you've won you've actually lost.

Our Marquis of Carabas for instance, at the end of the story he might appear to be on top of world with a castle, lands, a princess and all sorts of nifty things that you get in this kind of situation but if you look past all the sparkly you'll see that this is a man who will have to be on his guard for the rest of his life.
If anyone should discover his lowly origins then his only recourse will be to strap on the royal running sandles and get the heck out of Dodge, or Carabas as it were.

So if the millers son isn't the winner in all this who is? I'm certain that you've guessed by now that its our favorite cat who, in such a short time, has turned his owners life around, gotten an especially warm spot by the window and all the boots that he want. While he's done this he's managed to stay in the background so that if the unthinkable ever happens then he can plead ignorance while pointing at the Marquis who has a good head start. (16)

Finally we have to think about the moral to tonights little tale because heavens forbid that the children who read this don't learn a valuable lesson from it all.
You've got to identify your goal and let nothing stop you.
This works in business but not so much here since the cat shows a single minded ambition that borders on obsession.
People are only there to be manipulated
This could work, if you were reading the story to cats or children that you don't like and want to grow up to be sociopaths
Cats rule, dogs drool
This is the one. Nice, safe and only a little bit specieist. But who's going to complain? The dogs?  Hah!  They're too busy slobbering and chasing things!

  1. Both in the sense of evil and also their habit of coming in from the left and winding about your legs while you are trying to unload the groceries.
  2. Especially if you have Siamese Never have I seen a fussier pair.
  3. Did that sentence not make sense? Then hie thee to the library and feast upon the Sandman series by Neal Gaiman. Be sure to pick up American Gods and Anansi Boys as well.
  4. cats don't speak in these modern times as there is a danger that humanity would put them to work as radio D J’s
  5. I really want to sell this guy the Brooklyn Bridge, just so I can say I actually did it.
  6. If you don't count the ones that hold sleeping princess's, giants, dragons, ghosts and all manner of assorted beasties that need a true hero to dispatch them with true heart, magic sword and the mystical natural 20
  7. He differed from other cats in this respect since he didn't lay his presents on the doorstep and yowl loudly until someone noticed and praised him greatly.
  8. For those keeping score we're above dogs but, naturally, below cats.
  9. Clearly that was a job for “-------” (insert your least favorite politico here)
  10. The moral here is clearly never assume that the cat can't hear you talking about dogs.
  11. Marrying for money is only distasteful among the nuevo rriche who can't seem to shut up about the horrible stuff. The poor don't go on about money because they haven't got any and the rich just assume that they are perpetually in funds. This tells you something about the way the world works.
  12. Presumably after doing the Monty Python “come see the violence inherent in the system” sketch.
  13. Not because of having to answer the door to a cat but just because he was an ogre and it is very rare that they are in a good mood. It's an ogre thing.
  14. Had he examined the painting more closely the he would have seen that not only was it the work of a master but it was also painted over a treasure map.
  15. Actually it didn't. Ankles were still considered fair game but rugby boots were tackled ferociously whether or not there was anyone in them..
  16. That's if he's silly enough to (a) actually get caught and (b)  start talking. But show me any cat that ever became a stool pigeon I say.

1 comment:

  1. Great, as always!^^
    I had actually never heard this story before. So, it's cool to see it on here. I always like your versions best. lol