Friday, January 29, 2010

Fairy Tale Fridays: Hansel and Gretel

Special Thanks to my Personal Faery Friend for the Button Art: Ye Olde Faery Shoppe

For the first week's selection of Fairy Tale Fridays, I chose a well-known classic . . . Hansel and Gretel. We all know this one . . . two children get lost in the woods and cannot find their way back home. After long wanderings and extreme hunger, they come across a little house made of sweet treats. Unbeknownst to them, the house is inhabited by a wicked witch that only uses it as a pawn to lure children to feast on!

As I re-visited this story, I truly experienced mixed emotions. We have the horrible step-mother who somehow convinces the father to abandon his children in the woods. Then, we have the witch who has a young cannabilistic desire. On the positive side, there are also siblings who care for each other, stick together, and find a way to survive, despite the large odds against them. The ending is sweet with a reunion of the children with their father and no worries about being poor . . . a true happily ever after.

HOWEVER, this story is truly a dark tale no matter what the ending may be. I mean . . . I truly believe that there are few fathers out there that would so willingly abandon their children to the forest filled with wild animals to "tear them to pieces." Even after the death of the evil step-mother, does he ever go back in search of his children?

Then, we have the evil step-mother . . . why do step-mothers always have to be so evil? Have you ever noticed a pattern highlighting the step-mother as the evil one? I did grow up with The Brady Bunch, so maybe TV has softened this image with Carol Brady as my archetype?!?! :)

Finally, I am also left with a bit of confusion. In my version, the tale ends with . . . "My tale is done, there runs a mouse, whosoever catches it, may make himself a big fur cap out of it." Where did this come from and what is the meaning of it?!?!

Whatever the mixed feelings may be, I still love Hansel and Gretel! There is so much more we can talk about in this story, it really is not doing it justice in my short little ramblings here! I mean you've got whole articles that can be written on such topics as abandonment, resiliency, and family structure, and probably so many more beyond that. What about the issues of German poverty in the 1800's or the common thread of step-motherhood due to deaths in childbirth during that same time. And, the step-mother topic can be explored from the children's point of view to the mother figure herself. I really could go on and on, but I will leave it at that with just a few fun links for those who may be interested in more discussions . . .

Well, that is enough rambling for this week . . .

Next week: Rumpelstiltskin

What are your thoughts about Hansel and Gretel? Be sure to share them in the comments section or by using Mr. Linky below.


  1. Do you know if this story has been retold into a modern day tale? If so, remember the title?

  2. One thing that always occurs to me with stories and tales like this is the huge difference in how it affects you in the different phases of life. When you are a kid you think about the sibling relationship and their cleverness. When you are a parent, you automatically obsess on the terrible actions of all of the adults in the story!

  3. I love this new feature. My version ended with the bit about the mouse, too. I have no idea what that was about.

  4. I love Rachel Isadora's take on this classic. It is fairly new. Cynthia Rylant has a newer version, also!

  5. J. Kaye . . . There are some modern day tales adapted from Hansel and Gretel! I have not read any yet, but I found a list recommended by John Connolly, author of The Book of Lost Things. I will list them below for you . . .

    Pricksongs & Descants ("The Gingerbread House") by Robert Coover
    Happy to Be Here ("My Stepmother,Myself") by Garrison Keillor
    Kissing the Witch ("The Tale of the Cottage") by Emma Donoghue
    Transformations (poem titled "Hansel and Gretel") by Anne Sexton

    How's that for a list for ya?!?

    inthehammockblog . . . Thank you!

    Kristen M. . . . This is so true! I was thinking that when I read it as a child, I was fascinated with the witch's house made out of sweets! Really, how cool would that be?!? :)

    carolsnotebook . . . I'm glad you like it! I'm thinking I read somewhere that The Brothers Grimm did something similar to this last sentence in many of their tales. I am curious to find out and maybe find out the purpose!!

    Peaceful Reader . . . Really?!? I am definitely writing these down to see if my library has copies!! Thanks!

  6. Very intriguing spin on this fairy tale. I love fairy tales, BTW, and have numerous collections devoted to these images (Jim Shore, Disney). But you are right...there's the darkness they conjure, even as they intermingle cheerful moments and spin it all toward a happy ending.

    I like the Psychology Today article. After more then three decades (sounds better, somehow, than thirty years!) in the trenches as a social worker, child abuse often occurred within these complicated family dynamics...if not the step-parent, the mother's boyfriend or father's girlfriend (similar roles) were suspect. However, the child was often playing a part, too; not that that justifies abuse!

    Wow! I'm going to have to come back here every Friday to participate in this meme!

  7. Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow . . . It is so good to have you and I am so glad that you will be participating in the conversations! I see you often in J. Kaye's worlds!! :)

    A social worker? Very admirable in my eyes!! I've worked in the field of counseling for a little while and felt in previous positions that I saw way too much as it was. Probably nothing like what you saw. So very sad, but thankfully, we have great individuals like you willing to battle in those trenches!


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