Just thought I'd side track a tiny bit with an image from an old alchemical text, in support of the symbolism of Jack hiding in the oven; Expulsion of the Demons. Exorcism itself is theoretically/symbolically/imaginatively in sync with alchemy, as are other shamanic practices that work with "what lies beneath".This guy's demons are obviously in his head- air element! It reminds me of a statement in my Breema book (an ancient system of philosophy and healing); "Fire gets rid of extra." I can't know exactly what the artist meant by the images issuing forth from the guy's brain, but I would guess they are conditioned thoughts and beliefs, that need to be purged before he can go further in the Great Work.
So we left Jack in the oven, and the Giant Fee-Fi-Foing. As you probably know, the woman is on Jack's side again, however unconsciously; she mollifies the giant. In the Jacobs version I'm using here, Jack gets ready to run off while Giant is washing up before breakfast (on his wife's insistence; kind of funny. He's just like a big child). But she advises Jack further; "Wait till he's asleep", says she; "He always has a snooze after breakfast."
Jack does, and after breakfast the giant takes out a few bags of gold "and sits down counting them". Here we have the perfect portrait of the miserly, greedy one, like Scrooge. However, this activity does not excite the giant; it puts him to sleep. In wisdom tales like this, sleep is an indication of unconsciousness. That's the deal with Snow White and the Sleeping Beauty. I'm talking about consciousness in a cosmic sense, as in awareness of life beyond the physical, consensus reality.
Gold is an ubiquitous symbol in alchemy, of course. In its sacred form, it represents eternality, "higher consciousness", enlightenment, etc. However, when one counts gold- that is a worldly relationship we're talking about. Not trying to put you down if you want to count your gold, just saying that symbolically, that would be an indicator of a temporal relationship to the precious metal. Or maybe you're a leprechaun...
Well as we all know, the giant snores, an unrefined kind of fella; his snores could actually be a symbolic pointer towards the truth of our energetic vibration as determining the underlying nature of our experienced reality. His snores fill the whole house, just as Sleeping Beauty's sleep fills the whole castle. They are a low sound, like thunder, thus a slower vibration, which is how we get material reality cocreated. In a true version of an alchemical story, there is very little "fat", very little description that does not have symbolic significance, in order that we don't have to try and decide what's symbolic and what's not. I would say this one's pretty true.
Jack exits the oven and grabs a bag as he passes the giant; "and off he pelters till he came to the beanstalk". He throws the bag down, it lands in his mother's garden, and he scrambles down. Notice that Jack is not greedy; he takes only one bag.
And Jack's life with his mother, his nurturing feminine, is abundant now. He has braved the giant who was not really all that tough to best, despite his seeming power. Just required staying awake and a bit of cleverness. Some of the power the giant had is Jack's now; we could say Jack has reclaimed some power he had previously given away to this cultural behavior of focusing on accumulating material security at the cost of one's soul. The power scales are tipping in the favor of the Fool, the soulful one, the trusting one, who has faith in the unseen and its quicker energy. Again, faith in the unseen is part of air element, which is often counter to the intellectual mind's goal oriented approach.
Well as you may know, the sacred nature of inner work is very often depicted through the three tries, in wisdom tales. Jack's not done with his understanding of this human attribute represented by Giant; he's not done reclaiming his personal power. So, abundance wanes; the bag of gold runs out. The beanstalk is still there, the opportunity to discover something more about abundance and success. He climbs and climbs and climbs and gets on that straight road and comes to the great big tall house where he sees the great big tall woman again. He asks for something to eat again, "bold as brass".
The great big tall woman recognizes him, and remarks that the day he was last seen at the ogre's house, a bag of gold went missing. Again quick-witted Jack prioritizes his hunger, and thus stalls her; "I daresay I could tell you something about that but I'm so hungry I can't speak until I've had something to eat." The woman takes him in, but as soon as the food is before Jack, "thump! thump! thump! they heard the giant's footstep", and into the oven with Jack.
The same Fee-Fi-Fo goes down, and this time the giant eats three oxen. "Then he said, Wife, bring me the hen that lays the golden eggs." She does, and the giant, as the master of this hen, commands her, "Lay", and the bird does; a golden egg.
Like the golden goose and all other golden-egg-laying wisdom tale animals, this hen is another magical example of feminine abundance, like the excellent cow. Here's another level of abundance; one which keeps on producing whenever one "says the word"! This is the power of summoning the experience of abundance. The ability to experience abundance requires faith that it will never run out, like the bag of gold did. It's limitless.
Eggs are symbols of creative potential. If we can align properly with the cocreative power this giant apparently is currently coopting in Jack's psyche, then we always have the power to experience our lives as abundant. Creative power is always abundant, always giving, since the Creation Itself is one big creative project that goes on into eternity. In the science of inner alchemy, again, we are not necessarily talking about manifesting physical gold, though that could happen. First things first.
Well the giant gets into snoring mode, Jack sneaks off with the hen, but it cackles. Though Jack scoots safely down the beanstalk this time, Giant and Jack will have to confront each other more or less directly here at some point. Then we will know that Jack has faced the inner giant and seen him for what he is, and vice versa. The hen's cackling and warning the giant brings us a little closer to this confrontation, to Jack's being caught.
Though the hen should theoretically have ended any material lack in Jack's home down below Giantland, "Jack was not content." He still feels there is unfinished business between him and Giant. And this time he is not driven by lack; this time he is paying attention to subtler feelings, perhaps his hunger for wisdom, or for complete immersion in his own creative flow.
So up the beanstalk he goes for the third sacred time. "But this time he knew better than to go straight to the ogre's house." He's starting to know his way around this particular inner issue. This time he waits for the ogre's wife to go outside, and he sneaks in and jumps into the "copper", into a big kettle or cauldron. It's another ubiquitous alchemical cooking container, made famous in the stereotype of witches.
Well the giant comes in and insists he smells Jack; the wife says "If it's that little rogue that stole your gold and the hen that laid the golden eggs he's sure to have got into the oven." Of course Jack had already figured this would be assumed, and the woman, still the inner supportive feminine, must help, however unintentionally. As she has the other two times, she insists Giant is smelling another boy, and even adds a bit of wisdom for Jack this time; "of course it's the laddie that you caught last night that I've broiled for your breakfast. How forgetful I am, and how careless you are not to tell the difference between a live un and a dead un."
This bit concerning "live un and dead un" reminds us of the giant's "Be he alive or be he dead". What the story's pointing out here is that the "Way of the Greedy Giant" is one which has lost a sensibility concerning aliveness. When we relate to the world as though it is "stuff", as things that can be owned, possessed, consumed, we lose the ability to feel the vibrant life energy that underlies the whole thing. We become the undead, who have to constantly consume, since we are rarely satisfied in the sense of feeling truly alive, feeling the creative energy flowing through us. We can't feel abundant and joyful and satisfied when we can't sense the very nature of the energetic universe, including our very soul and spirit, which is always abundant. Making "thing" of "other" renders us into thingness too, according to the ancient alchemical principle "As within, so without". We "thing" ourselves, objectify ourselves, along with everyone else.
After breakfast was over, the ogre called out, "Wife, wife, bring me my golden harp." Notice the female brings the golden, soul-deep abundance- at least for the masculine- and she can still detect and converse with the soul's aliveness. The giant's golden harp is always depicted as female. Lots of musical instruments are, especially stringed instruments, which are related to the heart. We speak of this when we refer to "heartstrings". Harps specifically also allude to heavenly realms; notice this harp is a feminine angel.
Jack takes the harp while the giant is snoring and dashes off, but the harp calls out; "Master! Master!" Something in the Jack psyche (the harp) does not recognize any master but the giant. You could say the harp is conditioned to slaving for the slow, unconscious giant, just as many personalities, personas, are. We know nothing else, since childhood's end, anyway. In order to become the master of his own voice, his creative expression, Jack will have to cut identification with the orientation the giant represents.
And indeed he is successful, of course! As the giant lumbers after, he scrambles down the beanstalk and calls, "Mother, mother! Bring me an axe, bring me an axe" , just like the giant calling for his wife to bring the hen and harp. Axes, swords, and other blades are also air element, the Swords suit of tarot. And indeed this is a judicious use of air element, when we decide that a perception, relationship, behavior, belief, etc. no longer serves us and we Swoosh! cut it clean off. This is the same air element ability to disconnect found in counting, only used with the wisdom and understanding learned from exploring our relationship to the element. This understanding is what is meant by mastery of an element.
"Then the ogre fell down and broke his crown" is another fun little metaphor-
This Jacobs version tacks on the ubiquitous alchemical symbol of a marriage; "he married a great princess, and they lived happily ever after." The alchemical marriage or inner marriage represents a joining of opposites. Just so we don't think the story means for us to be killing things inside or outside us, which is not the Foolish way (remember my complaint about the film, in the first post on this subject?), we are reminded that the integration or dissolving or uniting of opposites is really what has taken place. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, and that goes for our psychic energy, too.
At the beginning of the story, the materialistic and the soulful were in opposition. This was expressed by the giant's aversion to Englishmen, even by the fact of Jack's mother's anger and beatings about the beans (she hits him three times, by the way). By the end, through understanding gleaned through wakefulness (watching) and through the willingness to go for the inner gold, Jack quite naturally, gradually reclaims his the abundance the giant owned. Opposition is no longer needed.
And fairy tale's "happily ever after" is a reference to the eternal. Nothing but eternality is "happy ever after".
So that is a wrap on Jack! Again I remind you of my Squidoo "lens", here, an interp of Sleeping Beauty. And my book, interpretations of symbolic film; Poetry in Motion.