Due to the generational gap between the times that these two writers, Basile and Collodi lived, it is only natural that they would be far different in their writing as demonstrated in their language and approach to themes among others. These differences, as already alluded to are partly if not wholly attributable to the century-apart historical periods in which the stories were created. ‘Vardielo’ is part of a collection of old folk tales in Italy that Basile collected which he never tampered with their language. As such, this story is even older than Basile’s time, exposing the even wider generational gap between this story and Collodi’s ‘Adventures of Pinnochio’; it is however the moral of this tale that still remains relevant today. The incorporation of the aspects of puppeteering and biblical literature in ‘Adventures of Pinnochio’ is in line with Collodi’s era. It was his attempt to contemporize fairy tale to be relevant in his time.
These facts influence these works in their approaches to theme. But these stories are also similar in certain ways such as in characterization (in role rather than physical likeness), and in spite of the generational gap, there is a thematic likeness between the two stories. The purpose of this paper is to compare these two works by sighting these similarities and differences from a perspective of the historical periods that influenced these works.
Characters, through their struggles and effort to break through these struggles are meant to propel a story and develop a theme; in certain ways, the characters in both works share certain traits. For example, the puppet child (Pinnochio) is in certain ways the same as Vardielo since both of them have a sincere need to be good; but in the end they all end up being ‘bad’. For Pinnochio, this is as a result of failure to fight the temptation of carefree life while for Vardielo it is a consequence of his extreme stupidity due to lack of guidance.
What is evident is that Vardiello’s stupid theatrics and Pinnochios’ strife for self-realization helps to propel the plot for these two stories. This also brings the theme of ignorance versus education; Pinnochio is shown as a man through epic symbolism when he imagines himself as an adult. Collodi seems to be of the idea that childhood is only a pre-stage to adulthood and so children need to be guided to prepare them for the responsibilities of adulthood rather than being cuddled and protected from it. Pinnochio, enlightened through education, becomes a human being while Vardielo on the other hand is confined to a mental hospital for his stupidity. But it is worth noting that Vardielo’s mother has lost so much by refusing to acknowledge Vardeila’s stupidity. Since her eyes are bewitched by a mother’s love that she sees things that are not there as identified by the author; “she has unbounded love for Vardeilla that she preened and brooded him like he were the loveliest creature in the whole world” (Basile 71). It is only when she finally acknowledges Vardielo’s ignorance and his resultant unrestrained impulse that she makes sound judgment and saves their luckily acquired wealth.
The story of Vardielo ends with the typical moral story ending of fairy tales; “as ship steered by a good sailor only dashed against rocks a few times” (Basile 74). That moral story is reflected in Pinnochio’s attainment of the human status. The theme of food.
In both cases, food is used a symbol of survival and exploitation. Mister Geppeto for instance wishes to be a puppeteer so he can earn “a crust of bread and a glass of wine” (Collodi). Pinnochio feels the first waves of love for his caretaker when he, Mister Geppeto, gives him food and teaches him not to be wasteful as a mean of his survival. But at the Inn of the Red Crayfish the fox and cat eat at the expense of Pinnochio (Collodi), and Vardiello’s mother on the other hand, uses food to manipulate his son’s stupidity to work in her favor.
The role of animals. Just as the fox and the cat are a source of temptation and distraction to Pinnochio, so are the cats that fight Vardielo over the chicken and end up distracting him while the wine runs out of the cask, eventually compounding his mess (Basile 72).
In conclusion, both works also explore the difference between humans and animals for as long as Pinnochio does not control his desires, he keeps changing from one animal to another. It is only when he learns to be patient and able to control his impulses that he becomes human.
It is evident that by losing control, one also loses their free will and it’s only by being in charge of one’s freewill that one is said to be human. The free will therefore is what distinguishes humans from animals, in this regard; we can argue that Vardiello is an animal in a human body since he has no control whatsoever over his whims; the very cause for his eventual doom. Even his mother knows this: “the moment his mother saw the coins, she knew he would tell…” (Basile 72).
Basile, George. The tale of tales, or entertainment for little ones; translated by Nancy L. Canepa.
Illustrated by Carmello Lettere, 2007. Detroit: Wayne State University. Print. Collodi, Carlo. The Adventures of Pinnochio; translated to Italian by Carol Della Chiesa, 2005.
Web. 29 Oct. 2011.