Maybe the name should clue you in. The stories collected by those cheery 19th century brothers German brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm (whose birthday it is today—he’d be 218), were the kind that taught children a lesson. Usually a bloody lesson about the perils of misbehaving. But over time, they’ve become known as “fairy tales,” with all the sweetness such a title implies. The recent NBC show Grimm seems to get the tone right, though: these are stories about things that most definitely go bump in the night.
Here’s how modern audiences might react if regaled afresh—having no knowledge of the centuries-old originals—with three classic children’s tales collected and conjured up in the land of the Grimms.
Scenario: In exchange for filching some plants, a man offers a sorceress his first-born daughter, who’s then locked away in a tower (with no access to a hairdresser). Yes, stealing is bad, but so is using your child as a bargaining chip. Adoption is an option for a reason, and someone who identifies as an enchantress/sorceress/generally malevolent being is not going to be approved as a prospective parent. And seemingly the only way out of this predicament for our poor, trapped girl is to let strange men climb up your hair. And no, that’s not a euphemism. But it could be.
Lesson Learned: Grow your own garden or go to a nursery to acquire your plant needs. Should you be stuck in a tower with hair long enough to reach the ground, cut it off and make a ladder. You don’t need a man to climb up it and “rescue” you.
Scenario: Two orphans, out wandering in the woods, come across a house improbably made out of sweets and owned by a woman who considers child flesh (the crispier the better) a delicacy. “Don’t take candy from strangers” seems applicable here but should be extrapolated to “don’t eat a stranger’s house that’s made out of candy.” It might also behoove you and your sibling to take some sort of wilderness survival class so that your only means of finding your way home is not a trail of crumbs.
Lesson Learned: If it looks too good to be true (e.g. a house made out of candy), it probably is. And while murder should not be your primary goal, it is acceptable to dispose of someone who’s actively trying to cook you alive. But try talking it out first.
Scenario: Girl sent to wander alone through the woods to visit an infirm relative. Does she have a cell phone? How will she call for help when she (inevitably) runs into trouble? And obviously, Red was not indoctrinated with the “Stranger Danger” speech, though perhaps she was thrown off when the “stranger” in question appeared as a talking wolf with a very good sense of direction. It should be noted that the Grimm brothers did tone down the original French ending wherein Red is eaten. But they made sure to recoup the violence in their second go-around with everyone’s red-hooded darling, when she and her grandmother trap and kill the wolf (surely now angering conservationists galore).
Lessons Learned: Don’t talk to strangers, man or beast. Sometimes someone will come save you (hello, Huntsman) and sometimes you’re just going to be wolf chow. Perhaps the next time you should have dear Granny come to you. Or at least employ the buddy system.
What’s your favorite tale from the Grimm Brothers? Let us know in the comments!
Hansel and Gretel: http://www.uncommon-travel-germany.com/
Little Red Riding Hood: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Red_Riding_Hood
Brothers Grimm: www.biography.com
Grimm (television): www.sciencefiction.com