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The Folktale
Stith Thompson

Motif Q200-Q599

Q200–Q399: Deeds punished

Q400–Q599: Kinds of punishment

Part Two

The Folktale from Ireland to India

II – The Complex Tale

9. The higher powers

A. Justice

Essential in the action of nearly all the folktales which we have been reviewing is the contrast between the evil deeds of malevolent persons and the commendable activity of the heroes or heroines of the tale. For the whole area of Europe and the Near East it seems to be a well established characteristic of the folktale that in such conflicts good shall eventually triumph and wickedness receive a fitting punishment. [183] These punishments are often horrible enough, but they are always justified for the teller of the folktale by the reflection that the villain was planning just such punishments himself and that he is getting exactly what he deserves.

[183] For a detailed account of such punishments, see Motifs Q200-Q599.