(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

According to the legends told in his lifetime, Tom Thumb’s peasant father and mother were unable to have any children until Tom’s father went to the magician Merlin and received from him a charm that resulted in the wife’s giving birth to the valiant but diminutive Tom Thumb. When he reaches manhood, Tom Thumb enters the service of King Arthur, in whose court he accomplishes great deeds and earns a vast reputation. At the court, Queen Dollallolla falls in love with Tom Thumb, loving him, in fact, as much as she loves drinking, but she keeps her love a secret from all. Least of all does she tell King Arthur, who is afraid of no one except his queen.

Tom Thumb’s greatest achievement is his victory over the giants who dwell in the land ruled by the amazonian Queen Glumdalca. Tom subdues ten thousand giants and then returns with the surviving foes fastened to his chariot, among them the comely Queen Glumdalca. Because of their size, all the giants except the queen, who is a foot shorter than her subjects, have to be left outside the castle walls. Queen Glumdalca is brought into the castle. As soon as he sees her, King Arthur falls in love with her.

Eager to reward Tom Thumb for his great deeds, the king promises him anything within reason. Tom at first replies that permission to serve his king is sufficient reward. When pressed, however, he asks for the hand of Princess Huncamunca, with whom he has long been in love. The queen is furious that her daughter should become the wife of the man the queen herself loves. She rails at her husband and swears that the marriage should not take place, but the king for once holds his own against his virago queen and tells her to be quiet. The queen, furious also at her husband, goes to Lord Grizzle, a discontented courtier, to secure his aid in preventing the marriage. Lord Grizzle, who is himself in love with Princess Huncamunca, is quite willing to oblige and promises the queen that he will kill Tom Thumb. Too late, Queen Dollallolla realizes that she does not want Tom killed. She hopes, instead, that King Arthur will die so that she might be free to marry Tom.

When King Arthur tells Princess Huncamunca of his decision to marry her to Tom Thumb, the princess is only too happy to hear of his decision, for she has been in love with Tom for a long time. She has also been afraid that she might die an old maid and, as old superstition would have it, be doomed to lead apes through hell. After the king has gone, Lord Grizzle comes to plead his suit with Princess Huncamunca, who tells him that she loves him, too. Taking her cue from the career of the queen of the giants, who has had twenty husbands, Princess Huncamunca...

(The entire section is 1100 words.)