Child as a Site of Adult Desire: “Jack and the Beanstalk”

Jack and the Beanstalk reveals the adult desire of becoming rich. The story is about a poor boy named Jack, who receives magic beans by trading away the last of his family’s money (a cow). The magic beans grow a large beanstalk that reaches the sky where a giant and his wife live. Jack, being the poor boy that he is, steals from the giant that lives in the sky in order to become rich. Eventually the giant finds out and chases after Jack, but Jack cuts the beanstalk while the giant is still on it and the giant dies. Jack and his mother live happily ever after.

The adult desire is portrayed in Jack’s dissatisfaction with everything he steals. Despite the fact that Jack was “quite rich” after stealing from the giant the first time, he continues to go back and steal more. The fact that Jack is stealing for wealth also questions the author’s morality, due to the fact that Jack is only a child.

While the author makes it seem as if Jack goes back to steal from the giant out of curiosity, the idea of Jack stealing something every time he goes back to the castle is definitely the adult desire to obtain wealth easily by stealing. This is revealed in the text when it states, “Jack and his mother were now quite rich; but it occurred to him one day that he would like to see how matters were going on at the giant’s castle.” The author manipulates the story’s readers by using the innocence of a child, a poor child at that, to steal from others so that his morality is not questioned.

“Jack and the Beanstalk.” Jack and the Beanstalk. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Sept. 2015. <>.


One thought on “Child as a Site of Adult Desire: “Jack and the Beanstalk”

  1. I think you’re really onto something. I think though that you can’t really just say that his taking things is b/c it shows adults desire for riches. You have to work with what the story gives you. It may be though an adult desire to associate curious exploration of a foreign land with the acquisition of treasure??? Do you see the distinction between what I just said and how you were saying it before?

Comments are closed.