three time's a charm

Dan Goodman dsgood at VISI.COM
Wed Jan 14 17:38:12 UTC 2004

Laurence Horn wrote:
> There's also the fact that in fairy tales, folk tales, and other
> traditional literature (written and oral), the third choice is the
> right one.  Also in songs, jokes, etc. (the punch line comes on the
> third part or in the third stanza).  There's an essay by Freud called
> something like "The Theme of the Three Caskets" (the title alluding
> to Portia's forced choice between gold, silver, and (I believe) lead
> in "Merchant of Venice" on which suitor she would marry), where he
> connects this with some of the other tales and legends involving an
> incorrect A and B and a correct C.  (There's also Goldilocks, for
> example (the third bowl/chair/bed) and the Big Bad Wolf (the third
> method of house construction).)  Freud, of course, attributes a deep
> psychic significance to the number 3, but I forget which.
Lewis Carroll, "The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony in Eight Fits," 1876.
"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true."

"Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy
action."   (Attributed to the movie Goldfinger.)

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