For the Fairy Tale Summer I decided (and obviously asked if it was okay, so thanks for letting me do this!) to translate (or rather let translate: Thanks Cupric for helping out here!) the Blog posts by Sebastian “Sofian” Wiedemeier I told you about in the beginning. If you prefer reading it in German check out Sofian’s original post: Das eigentliche Ende Deutscher Märchen [Teil 1]. But let’s begin:
The True Ending of Fairy Tales
The first thing to notice when you engage in Fairy Tales is that they’re originally not meant to be instructional stories for children. They were stories told by adults, often bloodier and more gruesome than today’s horror movies. The Brothers Grimm were the first to rewrite them for their second collection into more child-friendly versions. Hence I’d like to tell you in this first part two endings of Fairy Tales as they were told by the Brothers Grimm.
This story is one of the lesser-known by the Brothers Grimm; more known should be the story about Princess Donkeyskin from the french collection.
In this story the beautiful, dying Queen urges her king to promise her only to remarry if the bride-to-be would be more beautiful than herself.
After searching in vain for a while his gaze falls upon his own daughter, indeed more beautiful than is late wife. But his daughter is unwilling and asks a fairy for help.
When the king is – against expectations – able to fulfill her requests (a dress each in the color of the sun, the moon and the weather, as well as the skin of an gold defecating donkey) the princess flees, disguised as a vagabond, dressed in the skin which leads to her being called just that: Donkeyskin.
She does the dirty work at a dairy farm but secretly clothes herself in one of her dresses every Sunday.
Of course she gets discovered by a prince and the two end up together. Thus she escapes the king (and the incest-marriage).
The version of the Brothers Grimm, even if already watered down, ends quite differently. The starting position’s the same, up to the point of the princess fleeing. Again with her three dresses but this time she takes three golden items and a coat of more than a thousand kinds of fur as well.
Dressed as a vagabond, more animal than human visually, she gets picked up by the king’s hunters and has to work, incognito, in the castle’s kitchen.
She cooks and has to take her father’s boots off (who throws them at her every single time) while living with the other servants.
When a festivity arises she prettifies herself to toady up to the king who still doesn’t recognize her.
So she cooks him a soup and puts one of the golden items in it for him to finally identify her.
The father asks for the cook of that particular soup because of the high quality but she submissively answers that she’s only good enough to get boots thrown at her. This repeats itself twice with the remaining objects and dresses until the king finally recognizes his daughter-bride.
They marry, quite cheeryly, and remain happily ever after.
What does this story showcase? Well, it shows us a woman who struggles against the shameful sin at first but goes back to her father-groom because of the humiliation and worsening of her life conditions (in contrast to her french counterpart who escapes). She kisses up to him which sounds in my opinion more like Stockholm-Syndrom than an instructional story. The victim (the daughter) becomes the co-perpetrator and relegates herself to the fringe of society by breaking a taboo.
But what does that tell us?
Well, on one hand that incest and sexually motivated abuse aren’t phenomena of modern times. Apparently they were known and evaluated accordingly before – contrary to what modern media would like us to believe. On the other hand it shows us that only the right kind of excuse were needed. The king had promised it to his dying queen and if only the daughter matched the promised specifications – why not?
Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood)
More or less everybody knows the story about the Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. Today’s end is such that the good Hunter kills it. Sometimes he shoots him, other times an ending gets told where he drowns in a well because of the stones in his stomach. Grandma, Little Red Riding Hood and the Hunter eat in the meanwhile and live happily ever after.
That being the children-friendly version should be clear to everyone, right?
But the original story’s essentially different here as well. Little Red Riding Hood meets the wolf and allows him to take her off the path so he can reach the grandmother. But, in contrary to the popular version, he doesn’t just eat her neck and crop – that’d be too simple. Instead he butchers her like an animal, makes her bleed to death and makes minced meat out of her remains to finally cook them into stew.
So when Little Red Riding Hood arrives he serves her the stew which makes her happily, and unbeknownst to her, eat her own grandmother.
Afterwards he persuades her to undress and lie, in the nude, next to the wolf who’s still dressed as her grandma. Depending on the versions he then proceeds to rape her before eating her up.
Another Fairy Tale originally not intended for children. Still, it combines two widespread kinds of fear. On the one side the wolf as a place-holder for the role of the seducer and on the other the fear of those who lead a damsel astray to steal her virginity. The story showcases in a dramatic way what happens if innocent girls listen to sweet talk and allow themselves to be influenced by it.
Little Red Riding Hood puts the burden of cannibalism on herself, loses her virginity through rape before getting murdered and thus – at least in the beliefs of pre-modern times – is condemned to hell.
All this makes Little Red Riding Hood more of an horror story to tell young girls while sitting in front of the fireplace than a story for children.
What’s your overall opinion on them? Do you know a fairy-tale which ending was alternated in a similar way?
Sofian blogs about writing and other things that come along with it. He also has a keen eye for Fairy Tales. His second part of the true endings will be translated as well – and if we’re lucky, he’ll manage to write a third part for the Märchensommer as well. 🙂