Brides Who Challenge Death: A Jewish Folktale Motif Retold in Different Cultural Contexts

Kristen Lindbeck


This paper discusses two stories in which a bride saves her bridegroom, the first by appeal to God, and the second by offering her own life. While previous folklorists have understood the stories as exemplars of the motif of the bridegroom doomed to die, focusing on the role of the bride helps one analyze stories better, revealing that they appear to have originated in different genres. The first closely resembles oral folktales of Jewish women, and therefore modern women’s folklore can shed light on its hero. The second tale, in contrast, has connections to medieval European romance, and a literary reading in light of this genre best explains the bride’s sacrifice.

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