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For other uses, see Three Little Pigs (disambiguation).
File:Three little pigs 1904 straw house.jpg

The wolf blows down the straw house in a 1904 adaptation of the story. Illustration by Leonard Leslie Brooke.

Three Little Pigs is a fairy tale featuring talking animals. Printed versions date back to the 1840s, but the story itself is thought to be much older. The phrases used in the story, and the various morals which can be drawn from it, have become enshrined in western culture.


Jacob's version

The tale of the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf was included in Nursery Rhymes and Nursery Tales (London, c.1843), by James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps.[1] The story in its arguably best-known form appeared English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs, first published in 1890 and crediting Halliwell as his source.[2] The story begins with the title characters being sent out into the world by their mother, to "seek their fortune". The first little pig builds a house of straw, but a wolf blows it down and eats the first little pig. The second pig builds a house of sticks, but with the same ultimate result. Each exchange between wolf and pig features ringing proverbial phrases, namely:

"Little pig, little pig, let me come in!"
"Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin!"
"Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in"

The third pig builds a house of hard bricks. The wolf cannot huff and puff hard enough to blow the house down. He attempts to trick the little pig out of the house, but the pig outsmarts him at every turn. Finally, the wolf resolves to come down the chimney, whereupon the pig boils a pot of water into which the wolf plunges, at which point the pig quickly covers the pot and cooks the wolf for supper.

The story utilizes the literary Rule of three, expressed in this case as a "contrasting three", as the third pig's house turns out to be the only one which is adequate to withstand the wolf.[4]

Retellings of the story sometimes omit the attempts to trick the third pig, or state that the first pig ran to the second pig's house, then both of them ran to the third brother's house of bricks. The latter is often an attempt to write out death or violence in the story.

Andrew Lang's version

Variations of the tale appeared in Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings in 1881. The story also made an appearance in Nights with Uncle Remus in 1883, both by Joel Chandler Harris, in which the pigs were replaced by Brer Rabbit. Andrew Lang included it in "The Green Fairy Book", published in 1892, but did not cite his source. In contrast to Jacobs' version, which left the pigs nameless, Lang's retelling cast the pigs as Browny, Whitey, and Blacky. It also set itself apart by exploring each pig's character and detailing interaction between them. The antagonist of this version is a fox, not a wolf. Blacky, the third pig, rescues his brother and sister from the fox's den after killing the fox. The fox looked into the pot to see the pigs were gone, only to mutter the words "well there goes dinner".

The Disney cartoon


The Disney adaptation

Main article: Three Little Pigs (film)

A well-known version of the story is an award-winning 1933 Silly Symphony cartoon, produced by Walt Disney. The production cast the title characters as Fifer Pig, Fiddler Pig, and Practical Pig. The first two are depicted as both frivolous and arrogant. The end of the story has been slightly altered: the wolf is not cooked but instead burns his behind and runs away howling.[5]

Subsequent retellings

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs is famously presented as a first-person narrative by the wolf, who portrays the entire incident as a misunderstanding.[2]

During 1985, Faerie Tale Theatre created The Three Little Pigs, starring Jeff Goldblum as The Wolf,and 3 little wolves were minor characters.


In January 2008 a story based on the Three Little Pigs fairy tale, 'The Three Little Cowboy Builders' was turned down by a British government agency's awards panel citing that the subject matter could offend Muslims and builders, "Is it true that all builders are cowboys, builders get their work blown down, and builders are like pigs?". The digital book, which was re-telling the classic story, was rejected by judges who warned that "the use of pigs raises cultural issues".[6]

See also

  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
  • The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids
  • Revolting Rhymes
  • Three Little Bops
  • Three Little Pigs (song)
  • The Wind Blown Hare
  • The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig
  • The Three Pigs
  • Aarne-Thompson classification system, system for classifying folktales which puts this tale at 124 [7]


  1. Ashliman, Professor D. L. "Three Little Pigs and other folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 124". Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts. University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tatar, Maria (2002). The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 206–211. ISBN 9780393051636. 
  3. "The Three Little Pigs", traditional story
  4. Booker, Christopher (2005). "The Rule of Three". The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 230–231. 
  5. Waldman, Steven (1996). "In search of the real three little pigs - different versions of the story 'The Three Little Pigs'". Washington Monthly.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  6. Three little Pigs "too offensive" BBC News January 23, 2008
  7. Ashliman, D. L., Three Little Pigs and other folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 124 

External links

ca:Els tres porquets eo:La tri porketoj eu:Hiru txerritxoak hr:Tri praščića id:Tiga Babi Kecil it:I tre porcellini ka:სამი გოჭი koi:Куим порсьпиян nl:De wolf en de drie biggetjes no:De tre små grisene pt:Os Três Porquinhos ru:Три поросёнка sr:Три прасета sv:Tre små grisar zh:三隻小豬