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The fourth Beedle the Bard tale, Babbity Rabitty and her Cackling Stump, while couched in a story of how Wizards can triumph over foolish or opportunistic Muggles, is really story that teaches young Wizards important information about the limitations of magic, specifically, that magic cannot bring back the dead.
|Title||Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump|
|Part of Collection||The Tales of Beedle the Bard|
|Published Date||December 2008|
|Referenced in Books||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows|
|Referenced in Movies||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1|
Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump is a profound fairy tale nestled within the pages of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. This captivating collection, originally mentioned in J.K. Rowling’s phenomenal Harry Potter series, has bewitched readers since its publication in December 2008. These wizarding tales, much like the Muggle’s Grimm’s Fairy Tales, are filled with morals and life lessons that have been passed down through generations of wizarding families.
Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump in particular, graces us with its presence in the seventh and final book of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and has been a subject of fascination for Potterheads since. While it’s only referenced in slightly in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie, its essence and the moral lessons it imparts are implicitly woven into the rich tapestry of the Wizarding World’s folklore and magical education.
In the story, there’s a foolish king who wants to keep all the magic in the world for himself. He declares himself to be the best wizard in the world, but he knows no real magic at all. To ensure no one realizes his ignorance, he issues a decree that any witch or wizard practicing magic without his permission will be punished.
Seeing an opportunity, a charlatan poses as a magical instructor and promises to teach the king magic in exchange for gold. The king agrees, but as days pass, he becomes impatient, wanting to showcase his newfound ‘powers’. The charlatan sets up a demonstration where the king will supposedly perform magic. However, the charlatan knows he’s in trouble since the king cannot actually perform any magic.
An old washerwoman named Babbitty overhears their plan and laughs, making the charlatan suspicious that she might expose him. Under pressure, he claims that Babbitty is a wicked witch who is blocking the king’s magic. The king orders her capture, and Babbitty agrees to help the king perform magic, but only if he does it in the open for everyone to see.
During the public demonstration, the charlatan hides and whispers to the king, telling him what to do. As the king performs “magic” acts, they appear to succeed because Babbitty is secretly performing the magic from her hiding spot.
However, things go wrong when the king tries to bring a dog back to life. Babbitty cannot perform this impossible task, causing the king to be humiliated in front of his subjects. The charlatan blames Babbitty, saying she must be cut down. In fear, Babbitty runs into a nearby forest and disappears at the base of a tree. The charlatan, seizing another opportunity, claims that she has turned into a tree and orders it to be cut down.
After the tree is cut down, a loud cackling emanates from the stump. The stump (Babbitty) accuses the charlatan of lying and the king of being a fool. Babbitty demands that a statue of her be placed there to remind everyone of the foolish king and to never pretend to be what they are not. The terrified king agrees. After the statue is erected, Babbitty emerges from her hiding spot (she had transformed into a rabbit) and hops away, leaving the charlatan to face the consequences of his deception.
The moral of the story is that no one can make the dead come back to life and those who claim otherwise are either liars or fools.