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Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio: Characters & Themes

Instructor: Ivy Roberts

Ivy Roberts is an adjunct instructor in English, film/media studies and interdisciplinary studies.

You may already know the story of ''Pinocchio,'' but you may not be familiar with its large cast of characters or the depth of its themes. Let's take a closer look at Pinocchio's friends and foes, and the lessons he learns during his adventures.

A Modern Italian Fairy Tale

Most of us know the story of Pinocchio from either the Disney animated version (1940) or from the many pop culture references, such as Steven Spielberg's 2001 adaptation of Pinocchio's tale, A.I. Artificial Intelligence. But how many of us have sat down and read the book?

Carlo Collodi published The Adventures of Pinocchio in 1883. Set in a magical version of Italy in an unidentified past, Collodi tells the story of Pinocchio's journey to earn the love of his father. Along the way he is met by trials, misfortune and rare moments of joy.

Pinocchio
pinocchio

Geppett's Workshop

The story begins when Master Cherry, a carpenter (his real name is Antonio), is chopping wood. This one piece in particular has been troubling him. When it speaks, he decides to bring it to his friend Geppetto, a wood worker. Geppetto has a nasty temper, and he gets furious when the other townspeople make fun of him for the color of his wig. They call him Polendina, the color of corn.

Geppetto is glad to receive the gift from Master Cherry. He decides to fashion the piece of wood into a marionette. Geppetto gives him eyes, a nose, a mouth, and hair, and names him Pinocchio. He is a wooden puppet with a burning passion to live life to its fullest. His defining characteristic, apart from being made out of wood, is his unusually long nose.

A Talking Cricket lives in Geppetto's workshop. He is over 100 years old, and is very wise. When he tries to teach Pinocchio the value of school, patience, and respect, Pinocchio doesn't want to listen, so he squashes the cricket with a hammer. The Talking Cricket comes back at the end of the tale, reincarnated, so that he can reinforce the importance of kindness and courtesy to Pinocchio, who is now regretful of his previous actions.

The Blue Fairy

The Blue Fairy, also called 'the Lovely Maiden with Azure Hair', is Pinocchio's savior and surrogate mother figure. She lives in a house of the dead, so she may be a ghost. In either case, she is a beautiful, ethereal creature who is both stern and kind. She changes her form throughout the story in order to test Pinocchio. For example, she takes the form of an old lady in on the Island of Busy Bees and a little goat on the desert island. The Blue Fairy has magical powers with which she can grant wishes and make animals talk.

Tricksters

There are many antagonists in Pinocchio's tale. The first scoundrels Pinocchio encounters are Fox and Cat. The Fox passes himself off as lame, and the Cat pretends to be blind. They offer their assistance to Pinocchio on his journey, and convince him to take a detour to the Field of Wonders. In this field, they say, if you bury your coins and wait 20 minutes it will turn into a fortune! Pinocchio goes along with it, but in the end the Fox and Cat swindle him out of his last four pennies.

Pinocchio is also captured, taken hostage, and imprisoned several times. First, there is the farmer who catches Pinocchio in his weasel trap, ties a collar around his neck and uses him as a watchdog. Next, Pinocchio falls into the clutches of the Green Fisherman, a man as ugly as a sea monster, who threatens to fry him in a pan with the other whitefish.

Lastly, Pinocchio meets another boy, Lamp-Wick, who convinces him to come to the Land of Toys. They hop on a wagon pulled by 24 donkeys and driven by a nasty little fat man. When they get there, however, the boys transform into donkeys and are sold as livestock.

Lamp-Wick and Pinocchio wait for the wagon that will take them to the Land of Toys
Donkeys

The Law

In his adventures, Pinocchio gets in trouble with the law. He is chained up several times by the Caribeeners(the police), chased by their dog, the Mastiff Alidoro, and even put on trial.

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