For Iona and Peter Opie, the tale reads as a legend imperfectly recollected. For example, a gap occurs in the narrative between the wife's entrance into the forbidden chamber and Bluebeard's unexpected return, a time when her house guests vanish without explanation, and Bluebeard's willingness to wait a quarter of an hour before slaying his wife is out of character and poorly excused. Although no earlier retelling of the story has been discovered, it may be assumed one existed.
The fatal effects of feminine curiosity have long been the subject of story and legend. Lot's wife, Pandora, and Psyche are all examples of mythic stories where women's curiosity is punished by dire consequences. In an illustrated account of the Bluebeard story by Walter Crane, when the wife is shown making her way towards the forbidden room, there is behind her a tapestry of the serpent enticing Eve into eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
In addition, hidden or forbidden chambers were not unknown in pre-Perrault literature. In Basile's Pentamerone, the tale "The Three Crowns" tells of a Princess Marchetta entering a room after being forbidden by an ogress, and in The Arabian Nights Prince Agib is given a hundred keys to a hundred doors but forbidden to enter the golden door, which he does, with terrible consequences. In the story of Prince Agib, the motive is clear: the forbidden door is a test. However, in "Bluebeard", the motive is less clear. It is not explained why Bluebeard would give a key to his wife that will reveal his horrific marital past. In an Indian story, an ogress looks after a prince while disguised as a beautiful woman and tells him not to enter the tower, pit or kitchen, which will reveal her. In the tower, an old man who has been tied up by her reveals who she is, in the pit are the bones of her victims, and the kitchen contains three magical balls which the prince uses to escape the ogress, with the final one a fire is caused which the Ogress runs into and in which she burns to death.