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 . . .
- Hansel and Gretel by The Brothers Grimm: One version of this classic tale.
- Hansel and Gretel Comparisons: Different versions of the tale are compared (1812 & 1857).
- Re-Thinking Hansel and Gretel: A short article that appears at Psychology Today examining the step-mother issue.
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.