Kyara Heredia Contrary to popular belief, fairytales are not always child-friendly. Many of the original stories collected by the Grimm brothers, Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm, were filled with violence, sex, and incest. The brothers Grimm were folklorists and linguists and their book Kinder-und Hausmarchen, known as The Grimm’s Fairy Tales, led to the birth of the modern study of folklore. When the original stories are read and compared to modern adaptations for children it is unbelievable how different some stories to the original folktale version. Many are starting to wonder are these stories really appropriate for my children? The now-famous Grimm brothers, Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm (1786-1859), were both the oldest in a family of five sisters and brothers. Their father, Philipp Wilhelm, was a lawyer and town clerk in Hanau, Germany but after his sudden passing in 1796, he left his family with hardships and only their mother to take care of them. Not long after their mother passed in 1808 and they left Jacob to care for his four brothers and one sister. After graduating high school in Kassel the brothers wanted to follow in their father’s footsteps and enrolled and studied law at the University of Marburg intending to enter into civil service. While studying at the University the brothers met Clemens Brentano and Friedrich Karl von Herder. They were the ones who introduced the brothers to folklore and that is what lead them to slowly walk away from following their father’s footsteps by pursuing a career in law and focusing on their new passion, folktales. Even though both brothers enjoyed folklore very much they decided to remain individuals and although in 1805 started to collect folk songs and examine essays, critical in determining the difference between folk literature and other literature. In 1812 published the first version of Kinder-und Hausmärchen (Grimm’s Fairy Tales) In 1814 Wilhelm was working as a secretary at the Elector’s library in Kassel, Germany and it wasn’t until 1816 that Jacob joined him. Around this time in 1816-1818, the brothers released a collection of local and historical legends of Germany called Deutsche Sagen which never gained much appeal from the German people. By this point in their lives, they were not thinking about a career in law anymore. From the years 1830-1837 both Jacob and Wilhelm were hired as professors at Gottingen University but after having protested the constitution by the new Elector of Hanover, they were dismissed from the university along with five others. Then in 1840 both Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were invited to be members of the Academy of the Sciences and that is where they started to work on the German dictionary ( final version was not published until 1961).The beloved fairy tales we know nowadays, for example, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel have very sinister origins. This can be seen in a quote written by Maria Tatar in The Annotated Brothers Grimm, “Historians tell us that fairy tales originated in an age marked by wars, plague, and famine.”, (W.W. Norton, 552). This quote specifically explains why the fairy tales are so wild and chaotic. They were created during a time of chaos, poverty, and death and the stories reflect what the townsfolk struggles and obstacles. Today many different scholars are debating the meaning of these stories. For example, Little Red Riding Hood, originally known as Little Red Cap, was believed by British mythologists that she represented the burning sun in the course of a day, but when it sets out on its westward journey it is engulfed by the darkness of night ( Tartar 39-41). Many psychoanalytic critics find that preposterous and they had their own way of viewing the tale. Some scholars say that when the wolf ate Little Red that action symbolized pregnancy envy by attempting to put living things in his stomach. Also in the end the wolf was killed by stones and many psychoanalytic critics believe that it symbolizes sterility and by that “he” as in the wolf mocks his usurpation of the pregnant woman’s role. Even ideologists from the Third Reich had something to say about The Grimm’s Fairy Tales. They praised the Grimms’ Nursery and Household Tales as an “sacred book” and to them Little Red Riding Hood was the people of Germany as they were terrorized under the suppression of the wolf which symbolized the Jewish people. One very well known fairy tale that has changed a great deal over the years is Snow White. In the Disney version of Snow White she is a young, kind,and beautiful princess who was a friend to all animals. Her evil stepmother grows envious of her beauty and her attention from the young Prince and wants to kill her so that she can be the fairest in the land. The stepmother recruits a huntsman to kill Snow White out of envy. The huntsman takes mercy on her and spares her life and that is when she runs into the dwarf’s home in the woods. The dwarfs come home to find a strange woman in their surprisingly clean home and they invited her to stay with them to be safe from the evil queen. One day, the evil queen comes by disguised as an old woman and gives Snow White a poisonous apple. Snow White bites into it and she falls into a deep sleep. When the dwarfs arrived home and found Snow White on the ground, they chase the evil queen up to the top of a mountain and lightning struck it and no one ever saw the queen again. The dwarves are very sad and put Snow White into a glass coffin and kept watch on her night and day until the prince finds her and wakes her up with true love’s kiss and they live happily ever after. Snow White in The Grimm’s Fairy Tales has the same outline of the story, but the contents are very different. Snow White’s mother is watching snowflakes fall while she is sewing at her window and she pricks her finger on the needle. three drops of blood fell into the snow and she wondered to herself ” If only I had a child as white as snow as red as blood and as black as this frame”. Soon after that she had a baby girl and they called her Snow White. The Queen’s little girl grows up and becomes more beautiful than the queen herself and she becomes very envious and hates her daughter Snow White. The jealousy in her heart made her very angry and she called for a Huntsman to take her into the woods and stab her to death and for proof of Snow White’s death, he was supposed to bring back her liver and long so the queen can eat them. Just like in the Disney story The Huntsman took pity on Snow White and let her run off into the woods, but unlike Disney in the Grimm story he leaves her and thinks that she will be eaten by the wild animals anyway so he didn’t have to kill her. Since the Huntsman didn’t kill Snow White he still had to bring back liver and lungs for the queen to eat so he killed a wild boar and the queen ate its liver and lungs. Snow White was all alone and afraid in the forest until she saw the cottage of the seven doors, but instead of cleaning the house, she ate a few vegetables and a little bit of bread from each plate and drink a drop of wine from each little glass and went to sleep in the seventh bed. The dwarves let her stay in their home, but the next day the queen asked the mirror who is the most beautiful and the mirror said that Snow White was still the most beautiful. The evil queen was very upset that Snow White was still alive, so she disguised herself as a old peddler woman and then went to the dwarfs house to sell Snow White bodice laces. The queen returned to the house two more times and attempted to kill Snow White, each of the times she failed except for the last time when Snow White choked on a piece of the apple and died. The dwarfs made Snow White a glass coffin, and put her in there because she did not look like a dead person and she still looks like she was living. When the young prince came by the dwarfs house he was only seeking shelter, but then he saw Snow White and was taken aback by her beauty and ask the dwarfs to sell him the coffin of Snow White. The dwarves did not initially give him the coffin, but he kept pleading, and they took pity on him and gave it to him. The prince brought it back to the castle and he had to have the coffin next to him at all times, having the servants carry it around all day. One day, a servant was joking with Snow White’s body and set her upright and hit her in the back with his hand . The piece of apple that Snow White choked on flew out of her throat and she came back to life. Their wedding was the next day and Snow White’s mother went to the wedding because she heard of a young queen that was more beautiful than her. When she arrived, she realized that the young queen was Snow White. While at the wedding they put on a pair of iron shoes on Snow White’s mother that were glowing and radiating heat and made her dance until she died. The ending to both stories are very different and we can see why Disney adapted it to the extent that they did. If Snow White and many other stories were not changed to be child friendly, I believe that we would not have the fairy tales that we love today. Bruno Bettelheim writes the “our greatest need and most difficult achievement is to find meaning in our lives” and I believe that this quote can apply to many fairy tales and to many of us. When this quote is applied directly to the story of Snow White we can see that Snow White’s mother is that person in the story that is trying to find meaning in her life. This is shown by the way that she strives to be the most beautiful in the land and the lengths that she goes to get there. Work Cited Smith, Wendy. Happily Ever After: The Folk Tales Gathered by the Brothers Grimm Not Only Enchant Us; They Record the Hardships European Families Endured for Centuries.American Scholar; Winter 2013, Vol. 82 Issue 1, web.a.ebscohost.com/lrc/detail/detail?vid=0=2c0bddc5-3782-43f9-bb42-99808f5c4069%40sessionmgr4010=JnNpdGU9bHJjLWxpdmU%3d#AN=84304420=lfh.Russell, David L. “GRIMM, Jacob/GRIMM, Wilhelm.” Continuum Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature, web.a.ebscohost.com/lrc/detail/detail?vid=0&[email protected]&bdata=JnNpdGU9bHJjLWxpdmU=#AN=18765939&db=lfh.Tatar, Maria. The Hard Facts of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. University Press, 2003. Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment: the Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales. Vintage Books, 2010. Denecke, Ludwig. “Brothers Grimm.” Britannica School, school.eb.com/levels/high/article/Brothers-Grimm/38131. Ashliman, D. L. “Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts.” www.pitt.edu/~dash/folktexts.html.