Jack and the Beanstalk is an English fairy tale, closely associated with the tale of Jack the Giant Killer. It is known under a number of versions. Benjamin Tabart recorded the oldest known one in 1807, but Joseph Jacobs popularized it in English Fairy Tales (1890). Jacobs's version is most commonly reprinted today and is believed to more closely adhere to the oral versions than Tabart's. The story was made into a play by Charles Ludlam.
Due to the fable, another name for a space elevator is a "beanstalk."
It is Aarne-Thompson type 328: the boy steals the giant's treasures.
Jack was a poor boy whose lack of common sense often drove his widowed mother to despair. One day she sent him to the market to sell their last and only possession, a cow. But along the way, Jack met a stranger who offered to trade it for five "magic beans". Thrilled at the prospect of owning magic beans, Jack made the deal without hesitation. Alas, his mother turned out to be less than thrilled when he arrived back home. She threw the beans straight out of the window and sent Jack to bed without dinner. Overnight however, the seeds grew into a gigantic beanstalk. It reached so far into the heavens, the top went completely out of sight. Eager as the young boy was, Jack immediately decided to climb the plant and arrived in a land high up in the clouds, the home of the giant. When he broke into the giant's castle, the giant quickly sensed a human was near:
However, Jack was saved by the giant's wife, and as he escaped from the palace, he took some gold coins with him. Back home, the boy and his mother celebrated their newfound fortune. But their luck did not last, and Jack climbed the beanstalk once more. This time he stole a hen which laid golden eggs. Again he was saved by the giant's wife. He went down the ladder and showed the chicken to his mother, and the two lived happily on the proceedings from the hen's eggs.
Eventually, Jack grew bored and resolved to climb the beanstalk a third time. This time, he stole a magical harp that sang to itself. The instrument did not appreciate being stolen and called out to the giant for help. The giant chased Jack down the beanstalk, but luckily the boy got to the ground before the giant did. Jack immediately chopped it down with an axe. The giant fell to earth, hitting the ground so hard that it split, pulling the beanstalk down with him.
The origin of Jack and the Beanstalk is unknown, although the author was almost certainly British. The earliest printed edition which has survived is the 1807 book The History of Jack and the Bean-Stalk, printed by Benjamin Tabart, although the story was already in existence sometime before this, as a burlesque of the story entitled The Story of Jack Spriggins and the Enchanted Bean was included in the 1734 second edition of Round About Our Coal-Fire.
In the usual version of the tale, the giant is unnamed, but many plays based on the story name him as Blunderbore; a giant of that name also appears in Jack the Giant-Killer.
The beanstalk is reminiscent of the ancient Saxon belief in a World tree connecting earth to heaven.
Other types of this type include the Italian Thirteenth and the Greek How the Dragon Was Tricked.
One of the many retellings of the tale appears in A Book of Giants and A Choice of Magic by Ruth Manning-Sanders.
Walt Disney made a short, in 1922, with the same name, and Mickey and the Beanstalk in 1947 as part of Fun and Fancy Free. This adaptation of the story put Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy in the role of Jack. Mickey, Donald and Goofy live in a place called "Happy Valley" which is plagued by a severe drought, and they have nothing to eat except one loaf of bread. Mickey trades in the cow (which Donald was going to kill for food) for the magic beans. Donald throws the beans out the window in a fit of rage, and the beanstalk sprouts. In the magical kingdom, Mickey, Donald and Goofy help themselves to a sumptuous feast. This rouses the ire of the giant (named "Willy" in this version), who captures Donald and Goofy and locks them in a box with a singing golden harp, and it's up to Mickey to find the keys to unlock the box and rescue them. This version of the fairy tale was narrated by Edgar Bergen.
In 1957 Warner Bros. adapted the story into a Merrie Melodies cartoon called "Tweety and the Beanstalk", directed by Friz Freleng. In the cartoon, Sylvester finds himself climbing a beanstalk to catch a giant Tweety.
Gisaburo Sugii directed a feature-length Japanese anime telling of the story of Jack and the Beanstalk in 1974, titled Jack to Mame no Ki. The film, a musical, was produced by Group TAC and released by Nippon Herald. The writers introduced a few new characters, including Jack's comic-relief dog, Crosby, and Margaret, a beautiful princess engaged to be married to the giant (named "Tulip" in this version) due to a spell being cast over her by the giant's mother (an evil witch). Jack, however, develops a crush on Margaret, and one of his aims in returning to the magic kingdom is to rescue her. The film was dubbed into English, with legendary voice talent Billie Lou Watt voicing Jack, and received a very limited run in U.S. theaters in 1976. It was later released on VHS (now out of print) and aired several times on HBO in the 1980s. However, it is now available on DVD with both English and Japanese dialogue.
Crazy Jack by Donna Jo Napoli
Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk is the protagonist of the comic book Jack of Fables, a spin-off of Fables which also features other elements from the story such as giant beanstalks and giants living in the clouds.
DI Jack Spratt of the Nursery Crimes Division from the book The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde feels a strange impulse to climb the giant beanstalk that was grown in his mother's yard after she threw out the magic beans he had traded for her Stubbs painting of a cow. He is also thought to be a giant killer though out of the four only one was technically a giant, the others were just very tall. All the killings were in self-defense.
Roald Dahl rewrote the story in a more modern and gruesome way in his book Revolting Rhymes (1982)
[Peter Combe]] rewrote the story in an upbeat song ('80s '90s?)