The Brothers Grimm – Grimm’s Fairy Tales

★★★

Title: Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Author: The Brothers Grimm
Language: English (Originally German)
Publication details: London: Wordsworth Classics, 1993. (First published 1812)
Pages: 272

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My ponderings:

I love fairy tales. The further away I’m whisked away from the realities of the world, the better! I’m sure everyone is familiar with Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which consists of a variety of Disney trademarked favorites such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow-white and Rapunzel; and some lesser known stories such as The Table, The Ass and The Stick (I assure you it is an entirely decent story).

As this book consisted of short stories, it made for a quick and light read. What the stories lacked in depth, they made up for in entertainment value. Most tales are familiar, seeing as how Grimm’s Fairy Tales made up a good part of my reading diet when I was younger (the child friendly version, that is) and also thanks to Disney.

Still, it was nice to read the unabridged version of familiar childhood stories, which made one think “Man, children in the 1800s were hardcore.” I mean, seriously, there are a lot of creative mutilations and deaths in this book. If Disney kept the stories to the original, Disney princess animations would have a graphic content level of Felidae (a highly recommended watch, by the way. Just has an eensy bit of nightmare fuel. You’ve been warned).

In the story, The Goose Girl, the evil waiting-woman was sentenced to be:

“…put naked into a cask, studded inside with sharp nails, and be dragged along in it by two white horses from street to street, until she be dead.”

She’s not the only one to go this way too! There are a variety of other creative mutilations awaiting each “wicked” and “evil” character. Pick your poison, as it were.

Most people know the horror story that is the original Cinderella. In order to fit their feet into her glass shoe, one of the stepsisters cut off a toe from each foot, while the other, a heel. The prince realized that they weren’t Cinderella when he saw them bleeding from the shoe. Gotta give him points for perception. After the real Cinderella was discovered, pigeons came down and pecked out the eyes of the stepsisters, so that they were blind and hobbled for the rest of their lives while Cinderella lived happily ever after.

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How darling!

Now as sweet as this fairy tale ending is, it makes me pose the question: “How is it that the bad guys in Cinderella get more violent comeuppances than the bad guys in superhero movies?” Seriously heroes, your bad guys did way worse than keeping a girl as their housemaid.

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I’m looking at you, Bats.

I guess it’s because heroes have a sense of morals, the whole “If I did that, I’d be just like you” thing, whereas Fairy Tale world operates in a much more cutthroat manner: “You cross me, and I’ll put you in a crate filled with nails and drag you across the road. Bitch.”

It’s actually quite laudable really, if not absolutely terrifying at the same time.

Speaking of shallow morals, the Brothers Grimm’s Fairy Tale world seems to have a hierarchy as follows:

  • Pretty people
  • Royalty
  • Everyone else
  • Stepmothersreally

The pretty people being at the top is actually quite an accurate representation of the real world, it’s just how much it’s repeatedly brought to the forefront that makes me stop reading for a moment and go, “Really?”

There are a great many moments when the prince finds his true love and expresses his happiness at how pretty she is; or how they knew that she must be the one, for she was not only kind, but also beautiful; or how everyone was happy because she was indeed beautiful etc, etc.

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Everyone in the kingdom to the protagonist.

I truly have nothing against beauty, by all means, be smart, talented, kind and beautiful! It’s just worded in such a way that it implies that if the girl wasn’t beautiful, she wouldn’t be half as great. Since the story often starts with noting how beautiful the girl is, we can safely assume that if not for her beauty, the tale wouldn’t even be about her in the first place.

Oh geez, I just found the perfect example:

“A widow had two daughters; one was pretty and industrious, the other was ugly and lazy.”

Who will end up with a happily ever after? The answer might shock you!*

One thing’s for sure, Disney sure kept true to the “pretty protagonist” aspect of the book. I get it though, it’s Hollywood. People want to see pretty people – it’s just how it goes.

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You can’t tell me that they’re not pretty and HOLY CRAP MULAN what did you do to yourself??

Shallow morals, Mary Sue characters and true love solving everything would usually turn me way off a book, but given the age of the book and the fact that it was written for children, I forgive it (mostly the age factor though, because there are a lot of good children books out there. The bar has been raised).

Grimm’s Fairy Tales is just a classic among classics. Did I enjoy reading it? Yes! Although some stories were really nonsensical, and some were actually kinda boring, most of them were entertaining enough to make up for it. Taking into consideration that the Brothers Grimm were the original creators of so many fairy tale stories we hear and love today, gotta give them credit where credit is due. Not that it matters, since they’re dead, but y’know respect the masters.

I do find it interesting to note that if one were to seriously analyze the morals of this book, they would find them to be 101% screwed up.

Ooh, interesting side note: I recently played The Wolf Among Us by Telltale Games and felt oddly proud to know the character of Prudent Hans, a lesser-known character in Grimm’s Fairy Tales. He’s the one that threw a pair of sheep’s eyes at his wife. Yeah…pretty sure “prudent” is just an euphemism. The Wolf Among Us is so good, 10/10 would play again.

*Just kidding, it won’t.
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