Sunday, 23 June 2013

The analysis of The elves and the shoemaker or Cobblers to you!

Right then. To most people it would seem that our subject for tonight is nothing more than a positive story about helping another person in their time of need.

Aren't you lucky that I'm not most people because what we find when we peel back the layers and really peer into the heart of this narrative is that is is really little more than pro elf propaganda designed to further their whole “we're the elves and we're better than humans [1]” schtick that they cling to with such tenacity.


Considering the whims and peculiarities of the third race it's probable that variations of this story have played itself out before [2] but for those of you who don't know of it I should begin with the setting of the scene. In a country there was a city. In the city there was a street and in the street there was a shoemaker. [3] Although he's been bent over his work all day he takes the opportunity to look up at the camera and grumble his lines which are not really that important but will mention the fact that he's poor, old and those darn kids with their skateboards and their rat music.

One night though, the cobbler didn't get to finish his work.
“It'll be fine,” he assured his wife “I'll get a good nights sleep and do the rest in the morning”
All right Mr Snugglybottom. Come to bed” The pair climbed the stairs hand in hand and we draw a tasteful curtain over the proceedings of the rest of the night.

Come the morning they opened the shop and to their collected amazement the shoes he had been working on were fixed, polished and ready to go. They were still talking about it when the owner of the shoes came in. She proclaimed her admiration for the cobblers work and left with a promise that his services would be recommended to all her friends.
That night the same thing happened, the cobbler left the leather for the shoes out in preparation of being sewn together in the morning when the light was better and when he came down the next day he found that he'd been the victim of the strangest case of breaking and entering in the history of ever. (4)
“Who's doing all this?” he asked his wife “I mean I'm not ungrateful but most shoe fanciers just like to smell the things”
“Get everything ready and tonight we'll hide downstairs to catch them in the act”

So it was that the pair stayed down in the shop and when the town clocks struck midnight (5) the front door opened and two elves blew in with the cold winter wind. What little clothing they had was worn thin and really little more than rags but despite their shivering they went straight to work.
We should do something for them” the cobblers wife said to her husband after the elves had looked over their handiwork and shivered out into the cold night
What those two want is a good feed and some new clothing. Lets get to bed Mrs Snugglybottom and in the morning we'll go shopping”
A few midnights later it all happened just as before except that where there was a hot pot of nourishing soup (6), a pair of heavy winter jackets and a card which said “in appreciation” in fancy golden script.
The elves hugged each other in wonderment and after they had filled up on soup they put on the jackets, loudly admiring the fit and feel of warm clothing.
Upstairs the cobbler and his wife smiled to each other
All right brother” the first elf said “it's time to get to work”
Work? What for?” the other asked “with two jackets like these we're rich. We'll never have to work again say I!”
Wait, what?” said the first elf “we can do that?”
“Wait, what?” said the shoemaker “they can do that?”
Wait, what?” said the shoemakers wife “they can't do that!”
They raced downstairs just in time to see the pair of elves dance off into the street and out of their lives forever.

The Elves:
Elves are flighty creatures and it isn't just because of the wings. A factor that nobody seems to consider is that this whole thing could have been the beginnings of a massive prank and by giving them clothes the cobbler stumbled onto the very thing that would divert their attention.

if they hadn't received their clothing they would, presumably, have gone on making shoes for the couple and since the shoes were of such high quality the cobblers popularity and social standing would have risen. Eventually when he appears to be on top of the world they stop making shoes at the critical moment and he is left with a considerable amount of egg on his face. It's not the funniest joke in the world I'll grant you but when you're named fairy Peasbottom and your whole race seems to be lumped in with the likes of Tinkerbell.
Otherwise known as That Disney Sellout
rather than Legolas
Otherwise known as a bit of all right.
you've got to take what little revenge is available to you.

But when all is said and done the message of this story would SEEM to be that if you work hard then you'll get rewarded [7] The cobbler worked hard all his life and was rewarded with a vacation – except not really since he didn't stop working or go anywhere. It's actually better to say that his reward for a lifetime of labor was a couple of days where he didn't have to work quite as hard.
The other moral that gets trotted out for this story is “working together brings better results” but really this only applies if we live in a communist utopia. [8]

No I'm afraid that the only lesson we can really take from this little piece of propaganda is “Don't ever reward your workers or even acknowledge them if at all possible” [9]


  1. also stop chopping down the trees and stop going to war at the drop of a hat. All you need to do to get on in life is to walk around saying things like 'Gosh aren't those elves neat and consider yourself lucky if one of us looks your way and says 'yes. Yes we are'”
  2. Unless your a smith. Elves and fairies don't do well against cold iron, this is something that should be remembered.
  3. This gets pretty complicated so I hope you're taking notes. At least better notes than the ones I make
  4. He had no problem selling the shoes mind you. He wasn't a complete numpty.
  5. Thus waking up everyone who hadn't been hiding out in shops all night. This is one of the disadvantages of living next to the clock makers district.
  6. The kind you had as a kid. It took all day to cook properly and had a little of everything in it.
  7. With a nod in the direction of old people are prone to losing all their skills and going completely senile over the course of a few nights. You know, just to twist the knife and remind us that elves are perfect when they are young and even more perfecter when they're old.
  8. I'll spare you the details of my communism vs democracy rant. I'm still trying to put actual jokes in the damn thing.
  9. Also if you're not the boss then you shouldn't be reading this story. Get back to work you filthy laborer! I don't pay you to sit around improving your lot in life!

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