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A Twist in the Tale

by George McDonald

You might not recognize some plot elements of early versions of these famous fairy tales.

  • Cinderella (Aschenputtel) In the Grimm version, there is no fairy godmother. It is the beautiful tree she planted on her mother's grave that comes to her aid in attending the ball. Cinderella is a passive heroine, rescued from a life of drudgery by the handsome prince.
  • Hansel and Gretel (Hänsel und Gretel) Early versions of the story were sanitized to make it more child-friendly, with the evil mother being changed to a stepmother, thus creating the evil-stepmother trope.
  • Little Red Riding Hood (Rotkäppchen) In the French oral version, the hunter doesn't save Little Red Riding Hood from the Big Bad Wolf -- she distracts the predatory beast herself by performing a striptease, and then escapes. The Grimms sanitized the tale into a warning to children not to stray from the approved path.
  • Rapunzel In early versions of this tale, Rapunzel asks why her dress is getting so tight, thus naively revealing to her wicked stepmother that she is pregnant following a dalliance with the prince.

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