The basic plot of all the variations are as follows.
- The hero, usually Jack, acquires magic 'beans' from trading a family possession
- These 'beans' are planted or used, and they then grow into a 'tree'
- Jack steals 3 items from the main antagonist, found at the top of the 'tree'.
- Jack cuts down or removes the 'tree' and lives happily ever after.
- Don't judge a book by its cover
- Greediness can lead to unexpected consequences
- Listen to your parents
- Compromise and working together is often the best solution
This story first appeared in a collection of children stories after being passed down orally for generations. It could be considered as a standard story that teaches about responsibility, greed, and listening to your parents. The story changed with the requirements of the time period, however the basic plot remained the same.