Carlo Collodi’s ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ is one of the most influential children’s books ever written.
But before it was a world-famous, bestselling novel, the original stories of Pinocchio were published as a serial for ‘Giornale per i Bambini, a weekly Italian periodical for children.
The first issue was released in 1881 and ran for just under four months. But readers adored the little wooden puppet so much that he was resurrected into print the following year, and in 1983, Collodi’s entire story was published as a single book.
This classic Italian tale has been delighting readers young and old ever since. Pinocchio has become an international icon, and his escapades have served as a cautionary tale for millions of children worldwide.
Pinocchio’s Most Interesting Book Characters
There have been numerous adaptations of Carlo Collodi’s famous novel over the years, including, of course, the popular 1940 Walt Disney movie.
But in this post, I’ll be focusing on the most interesting characters as they appear in the original story. And if you’ve only seen the Disney version, you might be surprised at how different some of them are.
So, without further ado, let’s delve into The Adventures of Pinocchio and discover seven fascinating characters that define this classic children’s tale.
This loveable wooden marionette puppet has just one mission; to become a real boy.
He acts like a boy, and thanks to Geppetto’s handiwork, he even kind of looks like one, but no matter how hard he wishes, that alone can’t make him real.
Pinocchio’s defining feature is, of course, his nose. Every time he tells a lie, it grows a little longer, so everyone knows what a mischievous puppet he really is.
Disney’s version of the Pinocchio character is relatively sweet and innocent, but he’s a little edgier in Carlo Collodi’s original tale.
For example, as soon as he can move and talk, Pinocchio laughs in his creator’s face and steals his wig!
He’s irresponsible, unruly, and constantly getting himself into trouble. Even the strictest authority figures can’t control him, and all he wants to do is fool around and play.
But throughout the story, Pinocchio learns many valuable lessons, and with each passing chapter, he becomes a little wiser.
Despite plenty of setbacks along the way, he eventually discovers the value of hard work, honesty, and respect. And when he puts his newfound morals into practice, he gets his ultimate wish; he becomes a real, flesh and blood, human boy.
Mister Geppetto is the talented puppet maker who carved Pinocchio from a single pinewood block.
Despite his reputation for disliking children, he cares for him like a son from the moment he brings his wooden creation to life.
He sometimes loses his temper with Pinocchio, but deep down, Geppetto is a warm-hearted, patient, and kind man, which is just as well given this mischievous puppet’s antics. He never stops trying to teach him right from wrong, and thankfully, in the end, he succeeds.
But things aren’t always easy for Geppetto. He’s an aging man with very little money, and at the start of the story, he’s so poor that he can’t afford a fire to heat his tiny home.
So instead, he compensates by painting a grand fireplace on the wall, stacked with big burning logs and roaring flames. But as realistic as the painting is, it’s not enough to keep him warm in the winter.
Geppetto also struggles with his health, and he’s struck down by various ailments and illnesses over the years. Yet despite his many setbacks, karma is kind to him, and he always bounces back.
The Talking Cricket
The Talking Cricket, or ‘il Grillo Parlante’ in Italian, is very different from Disney’s ‘Jiminy Cricket’ version of the character.
He’s still a source of valuable wisdom for Pinocchio, but he’s much less patient and much more confrontational than his animated counterpart.
In fact, he has a pretty low opinion of Pinocchio at the start of the story, calling him a “ragamuffin, a do-nothing, a vagabond.”
But it’s no wonder The Talking Cricket has a short fuse. He lived happily in Geppetto’s modest home for more than a century before Pinocchio came along and accidentally killed him with a hammer.
Yet death is no match for this cricket, and he reappears as a ghost to continue offering his sage advice.
He pushes Pinocchio to change his ways, insisting he either attends school or gets a job to support his struggling master, Geppetto. He knows that this puppet will never become a real boy without a serious dose of tough love, and he sees it as his duty to provide the moral compass he lacks.
But The Talking Cricket also has a softer side. He regularly comes to Pinocchio’s rescue when his misguided antics go wrong, and towards the end of the story, when Pinocchio and Geppetto have nowhere to live, he invites them to stay with him in his home.
The Fairy with Turquoise Hair
The Fairy with Turquoise Hair, or ‘The Fairy’ for short, is a kind-hearted forest-dwelling spirit.
She first appears in the story when she rescues Pinocchio from a tree, where he’s been strung up and left for dead by the Fox and the Cat.
Despite Pinocchio’s rebellious ways, she quickly forms a bond with him, and eventually, she adopts him as her son.
The Fairy is a wise and encouraging role model, and she assures Pinocchio that if he changes his ways and learns how to behave properly, he will indeed become a real boy.
And in the end, her promise is fulfilled. Pinocchio grows to love and cherish the Fairy, and he sacrifices his hard-earned savings to help her when she’s sick.
This selfless act marks the moment that Pinocchio earns his conscience and finally takes on his human form.
Candlewick’s real name is Romeo, but his tall and lanky stature earned him his famous nickname.
As Pinocchio’s unruly best friend, he does his best to lead the puppet astray. He’s by far the most mischievous student in their class and is always on the lookout for trouble.
Candlewick couldn’t care less about morals and good behaviour, and he has no interest in helping Pinocchio to become a real boy. In fact, he often holds him back.
It was Candlewick who convinced Pinocchio to leave his father and go with him to Toyland, a place with no rules, where young boys do nothing but play and play.
But his selfish nature comes back to haunt him. After months of revelry in Toyland, both he and Pinocchio turn into donkeys overnight.
Eventually, Pinocchio returns to his familiar wooden form, but Candlewick isn’t so lucky. He’s forced to live out the rest of his days working tirelessly on an isolated farm, where he eventually dies of exhaustion.
The Fox and the Cat
The Fox and the Cat are a pair of conniving con men who get their kicks from lying, stealing, and cheating.
The Fox is sharp and cunning, and he uses his intelligence to plot a whole host of wicked schemes. But the Cat is much more dim-witted, and he eagerly follows his friend’s orders without question.
We first meet these notorious antagonists when they cheat Pinocchio out of his hard-earned gold coins by pretending to be disabled. Later, they attack him and steal the rest of his money, and when Pinocchio fights back, they hang him from a tree and leave him for dead.
But by the end of the story, this pair of criminals eventually get their comeuppance. Pinocchio finds them in a sorry state, begging for spare change. The Fox is lame, and the Cat is blind, and this time, they’re far too weak to lie and cheat their way out of trouble.
They shamelessly ask Pinocchio for help, but he has no pity left. And so, he waves goodbye to his adversaries, knowing they got exactly what they deserve.
The Terrible Dogfish
The Terrible Dogfish gets his name from the Italian ‘Il terribile Pesce-cane,’ meaning ‘The Terrible Shark.’
But whatever species he is, he truly is terrifying. Soaring five stories high and over a kilometre in length, this massive sea monster is the most feared creature in the ocean.
The Terrible Dogfish first appears when he swallows up Geppetto, who thankfully manages to bypass his many rows of giant teeth. But once inside the belly of the beast, he’s trapped there for two long and harrowing years.
Later in the story, Pinocchio endures the same fate as Geppetto. After escaping his life as a circus donkey and changing back into his puppet form, he finds himself in the open ocean, where he’s swallowed up by The Terrible Dogfish.
Inside the creature, he discovers Geppetto, who has been surviving on nothing but ocean debris from passing ships.
In a moment of bravery, Pinocchio rescues his father, carrying him through the body of The Terrible Dogfish, out of the creature’s giant teeth-laden mouth, and all the way to the safety of the shore.
Carlo Collodi’s ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ is one of the most iconic stories ever told. And despite being more than a century old, it’s still captivating readers of all ages to this day.
Have you read the original Pinocchio story? If so, who is your favourite character? Let me know in the comments below!