This week has a mix of stories that just got into my top 10 favorite Grimm tales and the ones that made no sense.
In today’s episode:
- The Little Old Lady
- The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs
- The Louse and the Flea
- The Girl Without Hands
- Clever Hans
I’m afraid I will spoil every other tale for you. The first one is very short and it’s hard to get to the point without telling too much. The third and fifth tales were one of the WTF-just-happened tales and even though I will tell you what happened, maybe you should just read them and tell me that they actually do make sense.
The Little Old Lady
Let’s start with a rather peaceful tale from the “Children’s legends” section. The old lady is a story of a woman who lived for very long and had seen many of her friends and family die. When the last person she loved passed away she was very depressed. One day when she was walking through town she heard church bells calling for mass. She was surprised because it wasn’t the time for it.
When she goes into the church she sees everyone who she loved and cared for and who passed away. She also sees a scene of something that might have happened if some of those people haven’t died when they did.
From that moment on she understands that their lives were meant to end as they did and that otherwise they might’ve suffered horribly. Whatever happened to them before was actually a better fate.
Yes, it’s still sad, we all miss people we’ve lost at some point in our lives, but maybe that was actually meant to happen.
Moral: Life goes on as it was meant to and if death takes someone there have to be a reason for that.
The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs
This is a story of a boy who was born in a caul. Because of that he was foretold to marry king’s daughter at the age of 14. Unfortunately king heard this prediction and the idea of his beloved daughter marrying some peasant’s son was repulsive to him. He decided to get rid of the poor boy [let’s call the boy Fred].
King decided to talk Fred’s parents into letting him take the boy, so he could grow up in the palace. They agreed and gave their newborn child to the king. But instead of bringing the boy to his new home, King put Fred in a box and threw him into the river in hope of killing him.
But the boy indeed was lucky and instead of drowning he was saved by miller family who decided to raise him as their own child.
When Fred was almost 14 the king found out that the boy still lives. Plotting for boy’s death again, the king decided to send Fred to the castle with a sealed message to the queen. The message said that the boy must be killed immediately after delivering the message.
Fred’s luck hit again and not only he wasn’t killed, but he was actually engaged to the king’s daughter now. How? Well, that you will have to read to find out. And what about the devil’s hair? Well, to postpone the wedding (possibly forever) king decided to give Fred an impossible to complete a task – to bring him 3 golden hair from the devil’s head.
Yes, there’s a lot of luck in this tale, but it’s a good one. True, it does talk about destiny, but it’s not the first one and most likely – not the last one either. The king was an evil man, who wanted to kill an innocent child because of some prophecy. He actually brought all of this to himself. Who knows if any of these things would happen if he hasn’t intervened. Maybe the boy would marry some other princess in some other land. Or maybe he wouldn’t marry anyone at all.
Interesting fact: This story supposedly inspired Tolkien while writing Beren and Luthien tale.
Moral: Fate can be a tricky thing, so beware what you do because you might be bringing your own demise. Also – luck is good and all, but you should always help your luck a bit, listen to good advice, help others to help yourself.
The Louse and the Flea
It’s weird story time! It starts with a louse and a flea living together and one of them being burnt and the other one starting to weep. The rest of the story is pretty much summed up in this little poem:
The little louse has burnt herself,
The little flea is weeping,
The little door is creaking,
The little broom is sweeping,
The little cart is running,
The little ash-heap is burning,
The little tree is shaking itself.
The little girl broke her jug and the little lake flooded everything and everyone… Yea that part was mine, but it fits.
Really, please help me with this one!
Moral: … I’ve got nothing…
Although I might go with the Hitchhikers Guide Through The Galaxy and say: “Don’t panic!” And remember to take your towel. But I don’t think that will work.
The Girl Without Hands
The story starts with a poor miller who makes a deal with the devil. The only thing the devil wants in return for the riches is whatever is in miller’s backyard. The miller thinks that there’s only an old fruit tree there, so he makes a deal and goes back home to bring his family the good news.
The problem is just this day miller’s daughter [Kate] decided to go to the backyard and from now on she belongs to the devil.
When the devil comes back to claim his reward and wants to take Kate with him he’s unable to touch her. The girl kept herself sinless and clean throughout all her life. Devil prohibits her to wash, thinking that the dirt on her hands will allow him to take her. When that also doesn’t work he tells Kate’s father to chop off her hands. Poor girl allows her father to do that. With her hands all bloody devil is close to taking her, but Kate starts to weep and her tears clean her enough to stay untouchable for the evil. Devil gets really angry and promises to go back to her when the world changes her heart to evil.
And so the story goes. Poor girl wanders around the world, trying to live on her own, receiving divine help, even stealing king’s heart due to her beauty and yet still fearing the devil will come back for her.
Read or listen to this story to find out exactly how it goes. I really liked this one. The first one I heard it, or at least I heard an adaptation of the story, was in 2013 through BBC broadcast. I didn’t know the story before and I had no idea it was based on Grimm fairy tales, although I have to admit I should’ve thought of that because of all the brutality ;).
The BBC dramatization is called “Kneehigh’s The Wild Bride“. I really liked it, it’s well made. It doesn’t go exactly as the Grimm tale, but I think it’s actually better, kind of wilder and it has pretty good music. I listened to it twice – in 2013 and in February this year. I’m guessing it will be a while before they’ll put it online again, but I can recommend even buying it if you can because it’s really good.
Moral: Be a good person and Devil won’t be able to touch you.
Anyway, this story is about Hans. I have no idea why it’s called Clever Hans, maybe it’s an irony? That would make sense.
Hans goes on a walk to visit Gretel. When he gets there she asks him if he has something for her. He says he doesn’t, but he will take something from her if she wants to give him. So she gives him a needle and Hans puts the needle in a haystack and goes back home. His mother tells him he did wrong and next time he should put the needle in his sleeve.
The next day when Hans visits Gretel she gives him a knife and Hans, following his mother advice, puts the knife in his sleeve.
I’ll stop the story here because it just goes on like this with few items Gretel gives to Hans, some new advice from the mother and some new idiotic things Hans does. Maybe he was mentally retarded and whatever someone told him to do with one thing, he though he has to do the same with everything? How else could anyone explain his deeds? You can’t be that stupid, can you?
And the ending! OMG, that’s when he really shows his stupidity. Yes, I will tell you how it ends. You can stop reading right now and move to the moral or question kitty section. Since Hans mistreats Gretel, his mother gives him the advice to cast his adoring eyes at her. What Hans does is he takes this advice literally, he gouges the eyes of the whole livestock and throws them at Gretel. Obviously the poor girl runs away and the story concludes with the sentence saying this way how Hans lost his bride.
Poor girl, but at least she was lucky enough to run away from this marriage. Can you imagine living with a man like that for the rest of your life?
Moral: Don’t be so freaking stupid! Stop and think before you’ll do something.
Unless Hans actually wanted Gretel to hate him in this case – well done!
Please tell me you’ve read Louse and the Flea and Clever Hans and that you have some kind of explanation for them? I would really like to know what was the point of these two tales.