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Creepy Original Fairy Tales By the Brothers Grimm, Like Little Red Riding Hood
Fairy Tales or Gory Tales?
When one hears the words "Fairy Tale", what images pop into one's mind? A cheery and singing Cinderella, a beautiful and brave mermaid with her happy sea-companions, maybe a little girl in a red cape that fights off an attacking and sly wolf? Such wonderful, positive images usually flood children's imaginations when the words "Fairy Tale" are uttered. Disturbingly though, Fairy Tales in their original form, even the tales written and told by the Brothers Grimm, were in all actuality quite morbid and frightening stories. So to whom can we attribute the majority of these terrifyingly, gory fairy tales? Well, my pointer finger is directed towards the famous and world-renowned, Brothers Grimm.
Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm were born and raised in Hanau, Germany, in the early eighteenth century. In fact, the brothers resided in Hanau until the days they both passed. Both Jakob and Wilhelm were considered knowledgeable scholars and knew quite a few languages, fluently. Writing and studying were their passions, which were displayed in their well-known collection of "fairy tales". These "fairy tales", as we refer to them now, were actually folkloric tales that were told by German villagers and forest-dwellers. Some of these tales were widely known throughout Germany at that time, others were merely almost-forgotten tales from the past. Whatever decade or century these tales originated, the Brothers Grimm felt compelled to document them, as rawly and eloquently as possible. Interestingly, the area of Hanau consists of thickly wooded areas and strangely beautiful landscapes...so it is easy for one to imagine how these dark and twisted tales came to fruition.
The irony in these "fairy tales", so written by the Brothers Grimm, in their genuine forms do not seem like sweet or cute "fairy tales" at all, in fact most of them do not have a "happily ever after" ending. When examined in their most original form, these tales are more like morbid, horror stories, to be exact! To begin our journey into the hair-raising world of the Brothers Grimm, we meet a young girl now known as Little Red Riding Hood...
The Original "Little Red-Riding Hood"
We meet a little girl whose nickname is "Little Red-Cap", as her beloved grandmother had made her a coat with a red cap and called her "Little Red-Cap" ever since. Today she is referred to as "Little Red Riding Hood", and there is even a movie that has been created based on this tale (you can view the trailer at the bottom right). Anyway, Little Red-Cap was ordered by her mother to take a basket full of goodies (bread and wine) to her ill grandmother, a few miles off, within the dense German woods. Little Red-cap accepts her mother's pleas with happiness and heads out on the path to her grandmother's cottage.
On the way to her grandmother's cottage in the wood, a lowly and nasty wolf approaches Little Red-cap and asks her where she is heading. Little Red-cap (weirdly enough) answers the wolf (with no obvious regard for her own safety), and spills the whole story of her journey. She even tells the wolf EXACTLY where her grandmother lives. Smart Girl. So the wolf, being extremely hungry and animalistic (wow, shocker!), decides to distract Little Red-cap by showing her a field of flowers...my how her grandmother would love a bouquet of flowers on her nightstand! And so Little Red-cap decides to pick wildflowers for her poor and beloved granny, while the plotting, ravenous canine devises an evil plan to eat her granny and eventually make minced-meat of Little Red-cap, as well.
Upon completing her flower-picking duties, Little Red-Cap continues on the beaten path to her granny's remote cottage in the Hanau forest. The innocent little girl finally reaches granny's front door and knocks. Unknowingly, Little Red-Cap's grandmother has already been eaten by the wolf, who had arrived hours before Little Red-cap and had time to prepare for his next feast. He had cleverly disguised himself as Little Red-Cap's granny. (Now on a side note, I don't quite understand why the wolf would go to such great lengths to have a meal of this little girl...obviously she was stupid enough to talk to a wolf in the forest and listen to his suggestions for picking flowers...why does he feel he needs to lure her into her granny's cottage? Why didn't he just eat her in the woods and then go to her granny's cottage and eat her granny, too? Maybe that wouldn't have been enough fun?)
Little Red-Cap welcomes herself into Granny's house, as Granny encourages her to come in because she cannot get out of bed to open the door herself. Little Red-Cap feels somewhat strangely at this point, as if her instincts are finally starting to kick in, but she walks over to her Granny's bedside for a visit, anyway. The young girl notices that her Granny does not appear the same as usual, with her cap pulled far down over her face. This is where the questioning ensues:
"Oh, grandmother! What big ears you have!"
"The better to hear you with, my child," replies her Granny.
"Oh, Grandmother! What big eyes you have!"
"The better to see you with, my dear."
"Oh, Grandmother! What big hands you have!"
"The better to hug you with."
"Oh, but Grandmother! What big teeth you have!"
"The better to eat you with!"
And with that, the wolf lunged at Little Red-Cap, devouring her whole.
Now, in many of the Little Red-Riding Hood versions that I have come across, Little Red-Riding Hood escapes the wolf, as she realizes that he is playing a nasty trick on her. I have also heard versions where a nearby hunter rescues her, after he hears the little girl's helpless screams.
However, none of these endings actually make up the original ending of this "fairy tale". The true ending goes like this (warning: this is where the tale gets really disturbing):
After the wolf had had his fill of Grandmother and young girl, he fell into a very deep sleep in the Grandmother's bed. Snoring very loudly, the wolf attracted the attention of a passing hunter. The hunter thought that the snores were the old woman (grandmother) and so he decided to pay her a visit to see if she was in need of anything. Upon entering the home, the hunter spotted the wolf with a bulging belly lying in the old lady's bed. With an arrow pointed at the wolf, the hunter stopped himself and thought that the old woman might still be alive in the wolf's stomach.
With this thought, the hunter took out a pair of scissors and began cutting the sleeping wolf's stomach open. Little Red-Cap and her Grandmother were then pulled from the belly of the beast by the hunter's helpful hands, still alive! Then they decided to fill the wolf's stomach with heavy stones. When he awakened, he could not move and fell dead.
The three then lived happily ever after, and Little Red-Cap learned her lesson...never talk to wolves.
Little bit different from the Little Red-Riding Hood Tale that is now told around the world, huh? Well, the Brothers Grimm began recording local German folklore out of an effort to preserve the old stories; they did not anticipate that their stories would become so popular amongst children. Because of the ever-increasing popularity amongst young readers, the Grimm Brother's writing was edited to fare innocently for such young eyes and ears. The story told to you above is based on a 1914 translation, found on National Geographic's website.
Now that we have met and heard the gorey story of Little Red-Cap, how about I introduce you to the adolescent girl with ultra-long locks?
Trailer for Red Riding Hood
Update: Red Riding Hood Movie Review
Not long after I wrote this hub, I went to the movie theaters for a cinematic adventure - Red Riding Hood. I have to say that it was exactly what I expected it to be...romantic and action-filled (in most parts). Some of the parts had a tendency to drag on and left you wondering, when is th action coming? But most of the movie is really quite entertaining, and I was shocked to see some glimpses of the original Red Riding Cap Fairy tale (as I wrote about above)...especially towards the end of the movie.
The scenery is absolutely breathtaking in Red Riding Hood, with white-capped mountains and thick forests. The town is nestled among these mountainous forests and the people are quite charming, in a Medieval sort of way. The main character, Amanda Seyfried, was absolutely perfect for this role. She had an innocent, yet sexy quality with her snow-white pale face and long blonde locks. Amanda's love interest in this movie is straight-up eye candy!
I would watch this movie again, given the chance...probably for the mere fact that I love this type of movie - werewolves, medieval settings, and romance. If you like Twilight and True Blood, you will most likely enjoy this movie, too. I would rate is a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.
Once upon a time, there was a man and woman who were married and lived in a state of desire. They had long desired to have a child. Where this couple lived, if they were to peer out of their back window, a beautiful garden could be seen (which was apparently their neighbor's garden). Their neighbor who owned this illustrious garden was actually a powerful enchantress, and she had built a very tall wall around the entire garden to keep intruders and thieves out.
The wife gazed out her window one fine day and noticed the most beautifully green patch of rampion (a.k.a. rapunzel) that she had ever laid eyes on. Her stomach rumbled and she yearned to have a taste of this rampion. She pined away many days afterward, if she could only have one taste of that beautiful plant. The husband came to his wife and noticed that she was looking quite ill and pale. He asked her what was ailing her and she told him that she must have some of this rampion or else she may die. (A bit dramatic, don't you think?)
The magic must have taken hold of her. The husband, being very in love with his wife, decided to climb over the tall wall and fetch his wife some of the forbidden rampion. He took it back to his hungry wife, and she made a salad with it and enjoyed it more than words could say. She enjoyed it so very much so that she asked him to fetch her more, the very next day. So, the husband climbed over the wall in the very same spot as the day before. But this time, he landed on the soft grass and stood up to see the enchantress standing right before his eyes. The enchantress questioned the husband immediately as to why he was such a thief...why was he stealing her rampion? He explained to her that his wife so yearned for it and he begged her for her mercy. The powerful enchantress softened a little bit and decided to let the man have his share of rampion, if he would agree to give her his newborn daughter. The enchantress promised to take good care of the daughter, as if she was her very own. Fearfully the husband agreed to the deal and when his wife gave birth, the enchantress fulfilled her end of the bargain and took the child away.
The innocent baby girl was kept in a room at the top of a tower, in the middle of the Enchantress' garden. The child grew into a beautiful teenager, with the longest hair anyone could have ever imagined! Her hair was so long that the Enchantress would ask her to throw it down, so that the Enchantress to use the hair as a rope to climb up and into the girl's room at the top of the tower. The girl's name was Rapunzel, for the Enchantress named her after the very plant that her mother sacrificed her to have.
So at this point, I feel pretty sad for the little girl, in the fact that she has been locked up by herself in the top of this tower, with her only company being the Enchantress. She never even got to spend any time with her biological parents. So far though, the tale is not too terrifying or disturbing; however, we are getting to the gory stuff...don't you worry!
When the girl was about fourteen years old, the prince of the country was riding in the woods nearby Rapunzel's prison-tower. As he rode by, he heard a beautiful song emanating from the top of this tower. He went home that night totally bewitched by the girl's song and the next day he travelled back to the tower, for he had to meet the girl who carried such a gorgeous voice. Before he reached the tower, he noticed an old enchantress standing at the bottom, who called out to the top of the tower, "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!". With that, a rope of golden yellow hair fell from the tower's top window. The enchantress grabbed on and climbed up. After the enchantress left the tower, the prince climbed over the garden wall and approached the tower. He called out the exact same words as the enchantress had called out, and the hair fell before him. The prince climbed up the rope of hair, enthused to meet the beautiful young girl.
When he reached the top, Rapunzel was frightened and shocked...for she had never even met a man in her entire life! He eased her fears and she fell in love with him instantly and promised him her hand in marriage...if she could only get down from the tower. The prince and his new fiancée devised a plan for her to escape the tower, but next day, the girl foolishly told the Enchantress about her new beau. The Enchantress flew into a rage and cut off all of Rapunzel's golden tresses and took her to a desert...and abandoned her. Rapunzel was in sheer misery...having lost her dignity and her love, all in one day. Wickedly, the enchantress returned to the tower, with Rapunzel's hair in hand. The prince came to take his new bride away, but when he climbed the gold locks he found the evil enchantress waiting there for him, totally enraged. She told him that Rapunzel was dead and so the prince jumped from the top of the tower and landed in a bush of thorns. The thorns pierced his eyes so that he could not see.
The prince wandered through the forest for many days and nights, blind and miserable. However, this is where the story takes a happy turn. One day, the prince heard a beautiful and familiar voice coming towards him and he realized that it was his beloved! They fell upon one another, and Rapunzel's tears dripped onto the prince's blind eyes. The tears were magical and cured him of his blindness. He could see again! The prince and his newly-found wife returned to his castle and lived happily ever after.
There...see? That one was a bit gory but it did turn out pretty well in the end. At least there was no cutting open wild animals with scissors, right? Still, if I was to tell my daughter about the prince's eyes being pierced by thorns...that might be a little bit frightening to her. This is probably the very reason that the story of Rapunzel has been edited and softened to fit the plight of a happy children's story. Take for instance Disney's new movie, Tangled. This is loosely based on the story originally recorded by the Brothers Grimm...minus the bloody, pierced eyes of the depressed prince...thank goodness!
Disney's Tangled Trailer
Cinderella is a very well-known classic fairy tale by today's standards. We have seen Cinderella as a Disney cartoon character and also played on the big screen by Drew Barrymore in Ever After. We have been told the story as little kids and tell the story to our children. Not many people realize how bloody the original Cinderella tale was. Once again, written by the intelligent, yet creepy, Brothers Grimm.
The story is much like the one told today, minus a few gory details. Of course Cinderella's mother passes away, and not a year later, her father remarries. The woman moves in toting along her two wicked daughters, who in the original tale are beautiful (not ugly as portrayed in the more modern versions) yet very spoiled and cruel to others. They are especially cruel to Cinderella, for whatever reason. They dress her in rags and send her to do a servant's work around the house and property. Cinderella is befriended by a magical animals, who in general have her back in the original and modern versions of this tale.
A special note comes from the royal palace, stating that a ball will be thrown, in order to find the prince a suitable wife. As predictable, the wicked stepsisters and stepmother do not allow Cinderella to go to the ball but Cinderella is able to go anyway with the assistance of her magical friends. Her night at the ball is the same as the modern versions tell, she dances with the prince and he falls madly in love with her; when she leaves the ball, her beautiful shoe is left behind her. The prince finds it and swears that he will find the woman whose foot fits into the tiny shoe.
The prince rides around town, searching aimlessly for his love. One day he happens upon Cinderella's house, to visit the women of the home and test to see if one of them could be his lost love. The sisters, having larger feet than Cinderella, try to fit into the tiny shoe to no avail. So, one of the sisters tells the other to "cut off your heel because when you are queen you will have no need for walking." The sister did just that! She cuts off her heel and fits her foot into the small slipper and the prince begins to leave the house with her; however, Cinderella's magical bird friends give the bleeding sister away.
The prince returns to the home, to drop off the sister with the bloody foot, and finds Cinderella. Cinderella's foot fits perfectly into her beautiful slipper, and she and the prince get married. While leaving the church after the wedding, the two sisters' eyes get pecked out by nearby birds, as their punishment for being so evil and cruel in life. Lovely ending, hmmm?
I can see why the mutilated-heel and pecked-out-eye scenes were cleverly edited out of the original yarn of Cinderella...a bit disturbing for young children, specifically little girls. Once again, the original folkloric tale of Cinderella demonstrates a darker side to the phrase "fairy tales."
Which do you feel is the most creepy fairy tale?
© 2011 Nicole Canfield