Like all fairy tales, this story has a moral and is metaphorical, (actually, there are a number of metaphors one could draw). We’re all familiar with the Jack and the Beanstalk story and it’s multiple, mixed moral messages. It’s title suggests that it is strictly about someone named Jack and a Beanstalk, but in reality it has little to do with the beanstalk, (except as a method for Jack to get up to and down from the Castle in the clouds).
It’s really about a ne’er do well kid named Jack who didn’t pay attention to his mother, did something real stupid, and due to, nay, in spite of a series of improbable events, including stealing something, he turns out okay.
It is of course a fantasy, but a quick read between the lines shows how it parallels real life in a lot of ways. Of course the premise of the story is as follows: Jack’s mother sends Jack to market with a cow to trade, he gets ‘seemingly’ swindled into trading it for a bag of ‘magic beans.’ When he arrives home exuberant over his purchase and what the beans can supposedly do, she gets understandably upset and throws them out the window. Well naturally the beans take root overnight, it wouldn’t be a fairy tale if something ridiculous like this didn’t take place, and grow into a huge beanstalk, which ascends the clouds.
Of course Jack climbs the stalk and at the top finds a castle loaded with all sorts of fantasy items including a goose that lays golden eggs. All of these things are owned by a ‘mean’ giant, who by the way wasn’t really bothering anyone prior to Jack’s arrival, and who doesn’t want to share his stuff with anyone, much less Jack.
Now of course Jack, being a bit of a rotten kid decides he could use the golden egg producing goose and decides to steal it. He coaxes the goose to himself calmly and quietly at first while the giant is sleeping and he almost gets away un-noticed. Then suddenly Mr. Giant wakes up, smells Jack, y’know, "Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishmun," and starts chasing after him and the goose which he owns.
What a scene that would have been; a little English kid carrying a squawking goose running away from a giant with feathers flying in the background!
By the skin of his chinny, chin, chin, Jack makes it to and descends the stalk, narrowly escaping death at the hands of the giant. When he gets to the bottom, Jack chops down the stalk as the giant is coming down after him. The stalk falls down and the giant dies, and Jack and his mom live happily ever after. As a side note on that part of the story, I’ve always wondered if our boy Jack had an Oedipus Complex, hmm.
Obviously, this is a very laser point of view concerning a classic fairy tale, but it does draw heavily on life and mankind’s struggles where it involves lack of attention, scams, and the desire to get rich quick or get something for nothing. Think about it, one way or another we are all cutting corners, trying to get away with this or that to suit our own needs. Sure we work, (some harder than others) but many of us are looking for an angle, hoping the next thing will be the one that hits.
The unknown author doesn’t portray Jack as a bad kid really, just someone trying to get by the easy way. Sometimes in real life someone you may know well or casually comes to you with an ‘opportunity’ pitch and says, “I know you’re a person just like me who likes money and just can’t seem to get ahead, blah, blah, blah.” “I have a foolproof moneymaker for you, (the magic beans). “All you have to do is call all your friends and relatives,” (plant the magic beans) “ignore anyone who is negative,” (the giant) “and you’ll make more money than you can count,” (the golden eggs), “and all you have to do to get started is give me a cow”, (your investment).
With a few minor storyline changes, the case of Jack and his ways is a perfect metaphor for such ‘opportunities.’ In reality, while occasionally someone gets real lucky, these ‘opportunities’ don’t usually work anymore than the occurrence of a castle at the top of a beanstalk loaded with goodies. The ‘giant’ isn’t always another person trying to get in our way either. Sometimes the ‘giant’ is our own bloated sense of self importance which blinds us to the reality of how to get ahead in life, which is: if you really want to have lots of gold, get better at what you do than anyone else, keep doing it consistently and you will have created your own Goose that lays Golden Eggs.