Grimm's Fairy Tales - Tales that are Very Grim, Indeed
Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, also known as The Brothers Grimm, are well known for their folk and fairy tales. You may think you know these fairy tales. They have been rewritten and made into movies for children many times over the years. But the original stories of the Grimm brothers did not come with helpful animals or happy endings.
Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm and Wilhelm Karl Grimm were born in 1785 and 1786 respectively, in Germany. They were two of nine children, three of which died as infants. When Jacob was fifteen and Wilhelm fourteen, their father died and two years later, their grandfather died as well. Their mother had to work hard to support the family. The two brothers were very close as children and remained so for their entire lives.
The brothers were inspired by a professor while attending the University of Marburg. They began to study past cultures, in particular folk tales and legends. The brothers interviewed peasants and villagers and collected their stories in a volume titled, "Tales of Children and Home" in 1812. They offered notes on the origins of the stories as well as variations in versions. Jacob and Wilhelm continued to collaborate on the German tales and published two more volumes.
Later in life, they began to study old languages and how they affected the German language. They both became professors at the University of Gottingen and later were fired from their jobs for participating in a political protest. They spent the last years of their lives working on a definitive dictionary of German, including word origins. The final work was finished by future generations and totaled sixteen large volumes.
The folk tales and fairy tales that the brothers collected have them listed as authors, but they actually simply collected them and recorded them. What is surprising is that the original stories are not what you might expect. Cinderella, for example, does not quite follow the story many of us have become familiar with from children's picture books and movies. The stepmother and stepsisters are even more horrible, if you can believe it! And Cinderella did not have a fairy godmother. It was a bird in a tree over her mother's grave that helped her. The ball was a festival and lasted for three days. Cinderella lost her shoe on the third day and it was gold, not glass. Then things get a little gruesome. When the stepsisters try on the shoe, they actually cut off pieces of their feet to make them fit. It's the blood that cues the prince that he has the wrong maidens each time. At Cinderella's wedding, pigeons pecked out the eyes of the evil stepsisters.
Is that the story that you recognize? What would you say if I told you that at the end of Snow White, the wicked queen is forced to put on hot iron slippers and dance until she died? If you are looking for REAL fairy tales with dark twists, check out what The Brothers Grimm really wrote!