The eponym Bluebeard, a noun meaning "a man who successively marries and murders several wives" is the main character in Charles Perrault's story Barbe Bleue, published in Contes du Temps (1697). The adjective bluebeard means "not to enter or be explored," as in the bluebeard room in the house. The character Bluebeard was a murderous tyrant, a habitual wifekiller. Today he might be called a serial wifekiller. Fatima, a pretty young woman, married the sinister Bluebeard against her brothers' wishes. Before leaving on a business trip, Bluebeard gave his new wife the keys to his castle, but forbade her to open a certain door. Curiosity got the best of her, and she disobeyed her husband's warning. There she found the bodies of Bluebeard's six former wives hung up like beef. On Bluebeard's return, he spotted a drop of blood on one of the keys, which told him of his wife's disobedience. Bluebeard was preparing to make Fatima number seven when her brothers rushed in and bestowed on Bluebeard the fate he had intended for their sister. In Brittany, a real-life Bluebeard, French General Gilles de Retz, the Marquis de Laval, was burned at the stake for his crimes in 1440. This sadistic creature murdered six of his seven wives, but whether de Retz was the historical source for Perrault's Bluebeard has never been attested. Perrault's Contes du Temps contains "Sleeping Beauty," "Red Riding Hood," "Puss in Boots," and other famous fairy tales collected from various sources.
   The expression bluestocking took root in the mid-eighteenth century after a botanist and sometime poet, Benjamin Stillingfleet, wore blue silk stockings when attending a gathering of women who had decided to forgo card playing for literary pursuits and invite learned such as Samuel Johnson, Horace Walpole, and David Garrick to lecture before them. The usual stockings worn by men to such an affair — in fact it was de rigueur to wear them — were black. Stillingfleet had no black silk stockings. He was told to come anyway, and he wore blue stockings. The stockings have bestowed on members of this coterie the sobriquet "Bluestocking Society." It was, of course, a derisive expression because for women to acquire learning was regarded as ungraceful.
   Today a bluestocking is, to borrow a statement from Rousseau, "a woman who will remain a spinster as long as there are sensible men on earth." Rousseau, of course, had never heard of the feminist movement or the attraction of sensible men to erudite women.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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  • Bluebeard — is the title character in a famous fairy tale about a violent nobleman and his curious wife. It appeared in Charles Perrault s Les Contes de ma Mère l Oye , first published in 1697.ynopsisBluebeard was a wealthy aristocrat, feared because of his… …   Wikipedia

  • Bluebeard — Blue beard, n. The hero of a medi[ae]val French nursery legend, who, leaving home, enjoined his young wife not to open a certain room in his castle. She entered it, and found the murdered bodies of his former wives. Also used adjectively of a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Bluebeard — [blo͞o′bird΄] n. a character in an old folk tale who married and then murdered one wife after another …   English World dictionary

  • Bluebeard — Bluebeardism, n. /blooh beard /, n. 1. a fairy tale character whose seventh wife found the bodies of her predecessors in a room she had been forbidden to enter. 2. any man alleged to have murdered a number of his wives or other women. * * * or… …   Universalium

  • bluebeard — noun Usage: often capitalized Etymology: Bluebeard, a fairy tale character Date: 1822 a man who marries and kills one wife after another …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Bluebeard — /ˈblubɪəd/ (say bloohbeard) noun 1. (in folklore) a villainous man who marries and murders several wives; in a popular version his seventh wife finds in a forbidden room the bodies of the other six. 2. any man alleged to have murdered a number of …  

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