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Literature / The Adventures of Pinocchio

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The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le Avventure di Pinocchio, AKA Storia di un Burattino ("The Story of a Marionette") is probably Italy's most famous Fairy Tale, first published in 1883. Its author, Carlo Collodi, wrote a great deal for children, but Pinocchio is the only one of Collodi's tales to have been translated into the English language.

An old Italian woodcarver, Geppetto, receives a piece of wood which looks perfect for making a puppet. The wood is magical, and the puppet comes to life. Geppetto calls it Pinocchio (which means "pine nut") and tries to bring it up as his son. Yet the task is anything but easy, as Pinocchio tends to be cheeky, naughty, disobedient, and all too susceptible to the bad influence of liars and false friends. Pinocchio tumbles from one disastrous adventure to another, but things take a turn for the better when he meets the Blue Fairy, who promises him that he can one day become "a real boy" if he changes his ways.


In 1940, Disney made an animated film based on this story, simply called Pinocchio. It scores someone between a 1 and a 2 on the sliding scale of adaptation modification, retaining only a handful of characters (but altering the personalities of most of them drastically) and a few basic plot elements. In 1936, Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy published his retelling of the Pinocchio story in the Soviet Union called The Golden Key.

Since it's in the public domain, you can read it here.


The Adventures of Pinocchio features these tropes:

  • Abuse Mistake: When Pinocchio escapes after being created, Geppetto is mistaken for an abusive dad, but he only wants to catch his son to scold him.
  • Accidental Murder: Pinocchio throws a mallet at the Cricket in retaliation for scolding him, seemingly killing it.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Each chapter Pinocchio gets hit on the head with a lesson and vows to keep to the straight and narrow, from which he invariably strays again in the next.
  • Agony of the Feet: During the first night alone after running away from Geppetto, Pinocchio burns his feet off.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Lampwick's death. He is a very bad boy, but his comeuppance is really sad.
  • Ambiguously Human: The Blue Fairy looks like a human here, and is called the Lovely Maiden with Azure Hair.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: The Land of Toys.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Pinocchio started out as a sentient block of wood. Mangiafuoco's puppets are also sentient.
  • Anti-Hero: Pinocchio genuinely loves Geppetto and the Blue Fairy, but dear God, is he a reckless irritant.
  • Author Tract: The book has some shades of social criticism in the Fox, the Cat, and the Coachman, alongside of the depicton of justice as inefficient.
  • Back for the Dead: Lampwick's return to scene is to show him as an overworked donkey that dies.
  • Back for the Finale: The Cricket, the Fox, the Cat, and Lampwick reappear in the last chapters.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The children who turn into donkeys in the Land of Toys. They are sold to unsuspecting adults who think they're buying normal donkeys.
  • Big Eater: The Cat and the Fox. Just look at the amount of food they wolf down during the dinner at the "Red Lobster Inn."
  • Born of Magic: Pinocchio is brought to life by being a puppet made of magical wood.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Pinocchio.
  • Bribe Backfire: Four weasels had a pact with Melampo, a watchdog, in which he had to feign being asleep so they can steal seven hens and Melampo could eat an eighth one. When the dog dies and Pinocchio is punished to be the new watchdog by the farmer, the weasels try to make the same deal with Pinocchio, only to find that irresponsible and misbehaving as he is, Pinocchio won't accept bribes. So the weasels are captured and Pinocchio earns his freedom.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Since this is a moral tale, Pinocchio always faces some kind of punishment for his misdeeds.
  • Cassandra Truth: Geppetto didn't believe that it was the log and not Mastro Cherry who was mocking him. Mastro Cherry tried to do so, with no success.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In the belly of the Dogfish, Pinocchio meet a fatalist old tuna fish. Later said tuna decided to imitate Pinocchio and escaped from the Dogfish's mouth and also helped Pinocchio and Geppetto to reach the coast.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: When Pinocchio is caught stealing food from a farmer, he's forced to work as a guard dog, replacing the one that had passed away the day before. He ends up proving to be much better at it.
  • Costume Porn: Medoro the Poodle's ensemble is beautifully described.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Geppetto in Chapter 2:
    "What brought you here, friend Geppetto?" "My legs."
  • Death of a Child: Pinocchio's friend Candlewick dies as a donkey as a result of exhaustion and the injuries inflicted by his master, and who knows how many children suffered similar fates in The Land Of Toys.
  • Depraved Dwarf: The Coachman, who is also known as the Little Man.
  • Disney Death: Pinocchio in Chapter 15. It was originally meant to stick and be the end of the story, but thanks to reader demands, the Cricket, the Owl, and the Crow tend to his injuries.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Although Pinocchio is being a jerk a lot of the time when things go wrong for him, there is at least one instance where his comeuppance seems far from reasonable: after promising to go to school and work, Pinocchio is informed that the monster that swallowed his father is in the local harbor. The other boys egg him on, telling him to bunk school and come to see it. He refuses, saying he will go after school. When they tell him that the beast will be gone by then, he agrees to miss one day of school to see the creature that swallowed his father. The boys turned out to have tricked him, and of course Pinocchio gets into a fight, is arrested for a murder than he didn't commit, and lands up in another series of horrible misadventures. Perhaps if things hadn't gone so badly he would have continued bunking school, though.
    • Lampwick. Sure, he's a bit of a brat, who bunks off school, and causes trouble, but he's still a little boy, who could have changed. Was there really any need for him to die?
  • Ditzy Genius: Pinocchio. He is awesome in school, but he is an Horrible Judge of Character.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Pinocchio has to endure some struggle to become a real boy.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Geppetto hates being called "Polentina," which the boys in town call him because the color of his wig looks like the same color of polenta (a typical Italian pudding like food made from maize flour).
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The first appearance of the Maiden. With assassins chasing him, Pinocchio bangs on the door, and the shutters of an upstairs window fly open revealing a beautiful child, who is clearly dead, saying "In this house there is no one. They are all dead." She's just waiting for the undertaker. Pinocchio is caught and hanged. That was supposed to be the end. It wasn't until his editor requested him to continue the story that Collodi decided the Maiden was a fairy who could save Pinocchio and put him on the right path.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Coachman a.k.a. the Little Man is just known in those nicknames.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Pinocchio may be irresponsible and bratty, but he won't accept bribes. A few weasels learn this the hard way.
  • Face of a Thug: Mangiafuoco definitely has this.
  • False Friend: The Fox and the Cat feign being friends to Pinocchio to steal his coins. And they try to kill Pinocchio.
  • Fat Bastard: The Coachman, the most depraved character in the novel, is also fat.
  • Foreshadowing: There are several hints that the Fox and the Cat are not the kindhearted crippled philanthropists they seem to be before they steal Pinocchio's money. Like when they tell Pinocchio that education and studying is how they became crippled. And when they arrive at the inn on their way to the field of miracles (a non existent field the two made up where money grows on trees) to eat and rest (the real reason being as a place they could lose Pinocchio, in order to attack him in disguise later), the narrator states that they were very sick and could only eat 35 mullets and 25 chickens for dinner, and leave Pinocchio to pay for it all (under the excuse that they were so polite, they did not want to him offend him by not giving him the honor of paying the bill.) And if that weren't enough for Pinocchio to see through, when they attack him in disguise later for his money, Pinocchio cuts off the Cat's paw. The next day, when Pinocchio sees the Cat has lost her paw too, he does not put two and two together. So sadly, not realizing any of these useful warnings, he is tricked into burying his money in the field of miracles, and while he goes to wait in the city, the two dig up his money and Pinocchio is robbed.
  • Friend to All Living Things: The Blue Fairy.
  • Grows on Trees: Invoked. The Fox and the Cat make Pinocchio believe that if he plants his coins, plants of money will grow. It's a lie.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Pinocchio decides to die instead of Mangiafuoco's puppets and offers himself to be burned. Mangiafuoco spares the puppets after noting this.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Pinocchio is far too trusting with shady individuals, most notably, the Fox and the Cat.
  • Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: The Coachman lures kid to a horrible fate.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: Each chapter is headed with a summary of its events.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Fairy states this to be the case with Pinocchio when he weeps over her grave. note  Noting that it means, in spite of his faults, he does have a good heart and in that, he has a possible chance for redemption. Mangiafuoco also counts because he sympathizes with Pinocchio.
  • Karma Houdini: The Little Man is undoubtedly the most horrible person in the book, but he gets away scot-free.
    • Averted with The Fox and the Cat. As Pinocchio, The Fox and the Cat are all punished at different stages of the book for their varying levels of wickedness, and the good characters (e.g. Geppetto, the Fairy, the Talking Cricket, and sometimes Pinocchio as well) tend to be miraculously rewarded in the most unlikely ways, it may be a safe assumption that the villains of the book (none of which get any comeuppance except for the Fox and the Cat) are headed for trouble as well.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Pinocchio is a jerk and a hedonist, despite all Geppetto does for him. His classmates are worse.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: The Crow and the Owl, who for some reason are doctors.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: At the end of the story the Cat eventually got blind for real, the Fox was forced to sell his own tail for a living, and now they're both alone and miserable. They try to ask Pinocchio help, but he reminds them all what they did to him and that they had it coming.
  • Left for Dead: Pinocchio after the Fox and the Cat hang him in Chapter 15. This was originally meant as the end of the story. Fortunately, in Chapter 16, he gets better.
  • Lemony Narrator: The narrative frequently addresses the reader directly.
  • Living Toys: Not quite this trope but it's close enough.
  • Love Redeems: It is Pinocchio's love to his parental figures that brings his best qualities.
  • Meaningful Name: Pinocchio means "pine nut."
  • Missing Steps Plan: Pinocchio's plan at the beginning of the book (admittedly, he is only a day old or so):
    In school today, I’ll learn to read, tomorrow to write, and the day after tomorrow I’ll do arithmetic. Then, clever as I am, I can earn a lot of money.
  • Morality Pet: The Fairy is this to Pinocchio.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Pinocchio invokes this trope when he was forced to fill in for a gardener's deceased guard dog. While on duty, Pinocchio learns that the dog had been accepting bribes from the other animals, letting them steal from the garden and pretending to see nothing. When they offer the same to Pinocchio, he instead alerts the gardener. When the gardener comments about how loyal his dog was, but never seemed to be able to catch them, Pinocchio decides not to tell him the truth about the dog since he's no longer alive to defend himself.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Everyone calls Mastro Antonio, "Mastro Cherry" because of his cherry-like nose.
    • Lampwick's real name is "Romeo," but he is too slim, hence the nickname.
  • Offing the Annoyance: The Talking Cricket rebukes Pinocchio for his misbehaving attitude, saying that it brings bad consequences. Pinocchio gets angry and, after the Cricket tells him that he pities him for having a wooden head, Pinocchio angrily throws him a mallet, crushing him. The Cricket gets better.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: The Maiden is actually first seen as a living corpse. Then she appears as a little girl, then seems to die for real, but reappears later as a grown woman.
  • Parental Substitute: The Lovely Maiden with Azure Hair becomes a mother for Pinocchio, since Geppetto is trapped in the Terrible Dogfish's body. This becomes the opportunity for Pinocchio to become a real boy.
  • Pleasure Island: The base for the Trope Namer, the Disney version. Here, you will have a life with lots of fun, no school, no responsibilities, but you will convert into a jackass.
  • Plot Hole:
    • At the start, Pinocchio doesn't know how to read, but later he can read perfectly the marker of the Fairy's grave. How did he learn to read? The Luigi Comencini version fixes this by having a peasant read it to Pinocchio.
    • When Pinocchio first runs away from Geppetto's house, a little after he's created, it's stated that he has no ears because Geppetto "had forgotten to make them!" Later in the story are several references to Pinocchio's ears, especially when they turn into donkey's ears.
  • Police are Useless: The authorities don't do anything about all the antagonists. When they actually lay down the law, it's on the good guys. Pinocchio actually gets jailed just for being robbed, and when all the prisoners are set free for no reason except that the emperor feels like it, he's not released until he says he's a thief.
  • Protagonist Title: Both The Story of a Puppet and The Adventures of Pinocchio refer to Pinocchio, the protagonist of this story.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: At one point, Pinocchio finds a huge snake with smoke coming out of its tail blocking the path. Pinocchio can't get past it, but he falls down and gets stuck in the road... The snake, after seeing the funny scene of Pinocchio's legs sticking out of the road, thrashing wildly, literally laughs itself to death.
  • Scare 'em Straight: Collodi originally conceived this as a gruesome morality tale.
  • Sea Monster: The Terrible Dogfish that swallows Gepetto.
  • Sissy Villain: The Coachman has a rather effeminate voice.
  • Spirit Advisor: The Cricket in Chapter 14.
  • Spoiler Title: Most of the chapter titles follow the In Which a Trope Is Described formula, which reveals several plot points. Curiously, there is a goof in the Land of Toys first chapter, because it is mentioned that Pinocchio will convert into a donkey but the donkey transformation happens in the next chapter. This is comically averted with the title of Chapter 35:
    Pinocchio Finds In The Body Of The Dog-Fish.... Whom Does He Find? Read This Chapter And You Will Know
  • Supernatural Aid: The Lovely Maiden with Azure Hair.
  • Talking Animal: There are lots of them, so talking donkeys don't surprise anyone.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: As you know, the Blue Fairy promised him he'd become a real boy if he's always well-behaved and gets good grades in school. Then one day, the other boys tell him that the monster whale was seen near their place, and that they should skip school to look for it. Pinocchio hesitates, but then decides to join them because he cares about Geppetto. When they go to the sea, no whale. Pinocchio gets suspicious, and wants to know what's going on. Then, the other boys tell him, that they'll look bad if he's an A-student, but if everyone in class was as lazy as they are, they'd be just average.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Lampwick is a bad influence for Pinocchio. It is Lampwick who motivates Pinocchio to go to the Land of Toys.
  • Transformation Trauma: Turning into a donkey is a horrifying experience for Pinocchio.
  • Unexplained Recovery: The Cricket, after being crushed by Pinocchio, and then turning up alive in Chapter 16.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Mastro Cherry and Geppetto. One minute they're beating the crap out of each other thanks to the mischief of the talking piece of wood that would eventually become Pinocchio, the next they're shaking hands and renewing their friendship.
  • Well, This Is Not That Trope: The opening of the book:
    "Once upon a time... There was a king! No, there was a piece of wood."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Mastro Cherry only exists in the story to discover the wood that would become Pinocchio and give it to Geppetto. Adaptations usually adapt him out, mix Geppetto with him, or give him a bigger role.
    • Geppetto had a cat (it was shown when Pinocchio lost his feet), but its fate is unknown, since Pinocchio and Geppetto end up living far away.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The donkeys, and their treatment was very much Truth in Television at the time. Strikingly, being Talking Animals doesn't make any difference in this universe.
  • Wonder Child: Pinocchio himself, who becomes Geppetto's son when the latter wants to make himself a puppet to cope with his loneliness and his poverty.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Fox and the Cat try to kill Pinocchio; and The Coachman...
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: The Lovely Maiden with Azure Hair. Justified because she is a fairy.
    • Specifically, she is an Expy of the Virgin Mary, whose traditional blue scarf is often mistaken by little children for blue hair.

Alternative Title(s): Pinocchio, Pinocchio The Story Of A Marionette, Adventures Of Pinocchio, The Adventures Of Pinocchio


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