The Grimm Brothers’ fairytales:
Love as the engine of the story
Grimm Brothers’ Fairytales are one of the most famous and popular fairytales all around the world. These tales deal with an enormous range of, not only characters, such kings, queens, peasants, animals, or servants for instances, but also themes, like gender, love, or family among others. In this work we are going to focus our discussion on the different use of love the Grimm Brothers made on several of his tales and how it influence the decisions the characters make in the course of the story.
The first in which we can analyze this issue is The Girl without Hands. In this tale, love plays an essential role in the development of the story: the first time we can observe that is after the deal between the devil and the miller by which the devil will make the miller rich if the latter promise the former which is standing behind his mill. When the miller’s wife is told that deal she becomes terrified because the deal involves her beloved daughter. Later on we can see love as a particular bond between the miller and his daughter: When the devil comes, he ordered the miller to cut off his daughter’s hands in order to be able to take her with him. As we can see in the website from the University of Pittsburg The Grimm Brothers' Children's and Household Tales (Grimms' Fairy Tales), the miller approaches her daughter and apologizes by saying that “My child, if I do not chop off both of your hands, then the devil will take me away, and in my fear I have promised him to do this. Help me in my need, and forgive me of the evil that I am going to do to you." (Ashliman) Somehow, the miller is asking his daughter to forgive him because, with all the pain of his heart, he is not strong enough to face the devil and has to cut off her hands. Once they defeated the devil, the miller promises her daughter to take great care of her as long as she lives, to what she replies: “I cannot remain here. I will go away. Compassionate people will give me as much as I need” (Ashliman). We can evaluate her words as the reaction of a daughter that has not feel the love of her parents, or may be not as much as she would have imagine.
After walking a long time leaving behind his home, she finds a royal garden with trees of beautiful fruits inside. However, the garden is surrounded by water and she cannot enter, so she decides to pray for food because she was starving. Answering his praying, an angel appears to help her reaching those trees to feed herself. However, the gardener is looking after the garden and tells the owner of the garden- the king- everything. As a result, thinking the girl is a spirit they decide to come the next night with a priest, who asks the girl whether or not she is a spirit, to which the girl rejected. As a consequence, the king decides “He took her home with him to his royal castle, and because she was so beautiful and pure he loved her with all his heart, had silver hands made for her, and took her as his wife” (Ashliman). Again, we find that love is the trigger factor of events.
In the end of the story, after overcoming the continuous obstacles the devil set to our couple, the king finally finds his missing wife and son in a house deep in the forest. Nevertheless, she has recovered her and the king doubts whether or not they are his family indeed. At that moment, the angel appears with the silver hands and the king realizes they are his family and claimed that “"A heavy stone has fallen from my heart" (Ashliman). This concluding sentence of the Grimm Brothers is a very good example of importance of love in their fairytales: after all the troubles the king and the queen have suffered because of the devil, the king is relieved because when he succeeds in the search of his beloved wife and son. Therefore, Grimm Brothers use love, Pablo Peláez Galán
Grimm Brothers’ Tales Assignment
not only as the trigger of the events, but also as the reason to not surrender, and it is presented as the bond between a daughter and her parents, and as true feeling that motivates ones efforts, a force that makes you believe even when there is no hope and lead you to success. Another tales in which we can analyze this theme are The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear, The Riddle, and The Twelve Brothers among others. In the first one, love appears almost at the end of the story and is presented in two different ways: on the one hand, we have love as a reward the king gives the boy for overcoming the fears of the haunted house. On the other hand, the boy’s wife decides to scare his husband and to teach him what fear is in order to stop him complaining constantly. We can consider she makes her decision because she love him so much that she wants him to stop complaining and focus on her. If we analyze The Riddle we see that again loved is presented as a reward, in that case, to the man that could ask the princess a riddle she could not solve in three days. The tale says that “he [the prince] was blinded by her great beauty and was willing to risk his life for it” (Ashliman). Thereby, is the prince that, because of the princess’ beauty, falls in love with her and is capable of risking his life just for love. By the end of that tale we discover that the princess tries to cheat the prince by making the princess speak in dreams the answer for the riddle, so the Grimm Brothers are showing as also the fears of the princess to fail and marry a stranger. Finally, in The Twelve Brothers, we find again love presented as a strong bound between relatives. In that case, it is the love that the twelve brothers and their sister feel for each other which made them fight for each other, risking their lives. At first the twelve brothers have to run away because of the birth of their sister, which arouse hate among them to her sister. Despite this feeling, when they finally meet her, they change their minds, and as it is said in the tale, “They all rejoiced, falling around her neck and kissing her, and they loved her with all their hearts” (Ashliman). And that love lead, on the one hand the sister to speak no words for seven years and be condemned to death to break the curse that turned her brothers into ravens, and on the other hand the twelve brothers to free her sister from the fire who were killing her. As we can see, the Grimm Brothers use different approaches when dealing with that feeling: depending of the story and how they want the events to develop, the use this feeling to make their characters make a decision and make the readers both identify ourselves with the characters and understand the motivation that lead them to do what they do or reject their conduct because of the way the present love in the story.
Pablo Peláez Galán
Grimm Brothers’ Tales Assignment
Ashliman, D. L. The Grimm Brothers’ Children’s and Household Tales (Grimms’ Fairytales). University of Pittsburgh, 1998-2013. Web. 14 October 2013
Pablo Peláez Galán