- Hansel and Gretel
Infobox Folk tale
Folk_Tale_Name = Hansel and Gretel
Image_Caption = Artwork by
Arthur Rackham, 1909
Aarne-Thompson Grouping = 327A
Published_In = "
Grimm's Fairy Tales"
Related = "The Lost Children"
"Hansel and Gretel" ( _de. "Hänsel und Gretel") is a
fairy taleof Germanic origin, adapted by the Brothers Grimmand earlier by Giambattista Basile.
Hansel and Gretel are the children of a poor woodcutter. Fearing starvation, the woodcutter's wife (variably called the children's mother or stepmother) convinces him to lead the children into the forest and abandon them there. Hansel and Gretel hear her plan and gather white pebbles to leave themselves a trail home. After their return, their mother convinces the woodcutter to abandon them again due to food shortages; this time however, they can only leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Unfortunately, the various animals of the woods eat their trail of breadcrumbs, causing Hansel and Gretel to become lost. (The story up to this point is identical to
Perrault's "Le Petit Poucet".)
Lost in the forest, they find a house made of ginger bread and candies, with sugar windows. Unable to resist, they begin to eat it. The inhabitant of the house, an old woman, invites them in and prepares a feast for them. The table is covered with candy, nuts, pancakes and other sweets. The woman, however, is a witch who has built the house to entice children to her, so that she may fatten and eat them. She locks Hansel in a cage, and makes Gretel her servant. While she prepares to cook Hansel, she orders Gretel to fetch her candies and fats to force feed Hansel. Unable to do anything, Gretel weeps bitterly and does as she is told. In the cage, Hansel finds a thin bone from his meals. When the witch tells Hansel to stick out his finger (so she can tell if he is fat enough to eat), he deceives her by sticking out the bone instead. The woman has poor eyesight and is very old, and thus cannot see that Hansel's "finger" is actually a bone. Days pass by, but the witch cannot perceive how fat Hansel is getting. She gets frustrated and decides to eat him anyway, "be he fat or lean." She tells Gretel to climb into an oven to be sure it is ready to bake, but Gretel guesses that the witch intends to bake her, and tricks the witch into climbing into the oven, closing it behind her.
Taking jewels from the witch's house, the children set off for home to be reunited with their father. After reuniting with their father and finding out that their stepmother has died, they all live happily ever after.
The tale from the Brothers Grimm was meant to be a pleasant fable for middle-class consumers of the 19th century; the original however was probably an admonishment of the hardships of medieval life. [George Gordon Coulton (1989). "The Medieval Village". [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN048626002X&id=wzfs3HLiDjUC&pg=RA5-PA326&lpg=RA5-PA326&ots=lnBqR8-U4s&dq=middle+ages+famine+hansel+gretel&sig=75Dsrr1Kc5ui8Vjwsc_WWxmxkbo Page 326] ] Because of episodes of
famine, war, plague and other reasons, abandoning children in the woods to die or fend for themselves was not unknown, in particular during the crisis of the Late Middle Ages. Many critics have posited that the tale likely stemmed from historical instances of abandonment caused by famine; see the works of Jack Zipesand Maria Tatarfor example, [Maria Tatar, "The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales", p49, ISBN 0-691-06722-8] with the obvious message of not accepting the seeming generosity of strangers.
In the first editions of the Grimms' collection, there was no stepmother; the mother persuaded the father to abandon their own children. This change, as in "
Snow White", appears to be a deliberate toning down of the unpleasantness, for children. [Maria Tatar, p 45, "The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales", ISBN 0-393-05163-3]
That the mother or stepmother happens to die when the children have killed the witch has suggested to many commentators that the mother or stepmother and the witch are, in fact, the same woman, or at least that an identity between them is strongly hinted at. [Max Lüthi, "Once Upon A Time: On the Nature of Fairy Tales", p 64, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., New York, 1970] Indeed, a Russian folk tale exists in which the evil stepmother (also the wife of a poor woodcutter) asks her hated stepdaughter to go into the forest to borrow a light from her sister, who turns out to be
Baba Yaga- who, though her house is anything but enticing, is also a cannibalistic witch. Besides the stories highlighting the endangering the children - and indeed their cleverness - they have in common a preoccupation with food: the stepmother to avoid hunger, and the witch with her house built of food and her desire to eat the children. [Maria Tatar, p 57, "The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales", ISBN 0-393-05163-3]
The tale is
Aarne-Thompsontype 327A. [Heidi Anne Heine, " [http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/hanselgretel/other.html Tales Similar to Hansel And Gretel] "] Another tale of this type is "The Lost Children". [Paul Delarue, "The Borzoi Book of French Folk-Tales", p 365, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York 1956] Although they are not classified under this type, the Brothers Grimm identified the French " Finette Cendron" and " Hop o' My Thumb" as parallels to the story. [Maria Tatar, "The Annotated Brothers Grimm", p 72 ISBN 0-393-05848-4] The basic elements are found in tales throughout the world, although their simplicity makes it hard to tell whether a given instance is a borrowing or an independent invention. [ Stith Thompson, "The Folktale", p 36-7, University of California Press, Berkeley Los Angeles London, 1977] At the end everyone lives happily ever after.
Engelbert Humperdinckwrote an 1893 opera, "Hänsel und Gretel", based on the fairy tale.
A Book of Witches" (1966), by Ruth Manning-Sanders.Fact|date=December 2007
*The novel "The Magic Circle" by the author "
Donna Jo Napoli".(1995)Fact|date=December 2007
*The "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" episode Gingerbread features Hansel and Gretel as a
demonwho takes the form of two dead children in order to destroy peaceful communities through paranoia and witchhunts (according to the episode, some stories and fairy tales come from real events).
Terry Pratchett's " Wyrd Sisters", Nanny Oggand Granny Weatherwaxdiscuss one of Granny's predecessors, Black Aliss. Nanny Ogg tells Magrat that she was "shoved into her own oven by a couple of kids". A similar reference is made in the earlier ' The Light Fantastic" with a witch called Goodie Whitlow Fact|date=December 2007
*Hansel and the witch (called Frau Totenkinder, translating to Ms. Dead children or 'Killer of Children') both appear as characters in the
comic bookseries "Fables", written by Bill Willingham, which was first published in 2003. Gretel also appears but only in flashbacks.Fact|date=December 2007 Hansel is portrayed as a monster whose hatred of witches led him to lead much of the witch burning craze of the 17th century. A hatred made worse by the fact that due to the rules of Fabletown the witch has been forgiven and he cannot act aginst her. Worse his sister eventually comes to view magic not as evil but as a tool and allows the witch to teach her it. On learning this Hansel murders his sister and attempts to cover the matter up. This fails and he is forced from Fabletown, he then returns to the fable homelands joins the adversarys forces and becomes high inquisitor.Hansel dresses as a sterotypical 17th century puritan and much of his activities and dialogue indicate that his is probably of this faith.
Junko Mizunodid Hansel and Gretel as the second part of her "fractured fairy tales" manga stories.Fact|date=December 2007
Trial by Journal" by Kate Kliseis inspired by the Hansel and Gretel tale. The main character Lily Watson recalls how she and Perry Keet once played Hansel and Gretel in a school play. Priscilla the Gorilla begins to paint pictures of scenes in Hansel and Gretel, one being a picture of a candy house saying "LAW Remember me". Believing that Perry is somehow trying to communicate to her beyond the grave, Lily leaves an advertisement in the newspaper saying something along the lines of, "Hansel, are you trying to contact me? Gretel."Fact|date=December 2007
* In South Korea, a film, "Hansel and Gretel" is due to be released on December 28. It was based on the film, although changed to horror.Fact|date=December 2007
* In Portuguese, the children are named João (John) and Maria (Mary).
* There is a
Looney Tunesversion of the story, where almost every character (except Hansel and Gretel themselves) is astonished after hearing the name "Hansel".Fact|date=April 2008
* The American
Industrial metalband Hanzel und Gretyltakes a false-Germanic name from the history to identify themselves as pseudo-German.
Germany, there is a foundation set up to help abused children called the [http://www.haensel-gretel.de 'Hänsel+Gretel' foundation] . German cross country skier Claudia Künzeldonated her 4 x 5 km relay gold medal from the 2002 Winter Olympicsin Salt Lake Cityto benefit the foundation in the summer of 2007. [FIS Newsflash 135. July 11, 2007]
* On "
The Simpsons" episode BABF21 from season 12, Treehouse of Horror XI, the segment titled "Scary Tales Can Come True" features the family involved in a parody of various fairy tales, including Hansel and Gretel (as portrayed by Bart and Lisa, respectively).
* In "
The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy", Billy and Mandy turn Pinocchiointo a wooden seat which the evil witch of Hansel and Gretel sits on (and breaks due to her weight).Fact|date=December 2007
* This book is referred to throughout the film version of "
I, Robot".Fact|date=December 2007
* In the film "
Wes Craven's New Nightmare" the story is told and is sort of used subtly throughout.Fact|date=December 2007
* In the third season of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", episode "Gingerbread", the story is attributed to a demon who thrives on discord. It creates hysteria by pretending to be two children (named Hans and Greta) murdered by witches, causing the community to destroy itself. It manifests every 50 years.Fact|date=December 2007
America's Next Top Modelcontestant Sara Albert posed as Gretel in an episode of America's Next Top Model, Cycle 6.
animeseries " Black Lagoon", there is a brief appearance by two Romanian orphans who call themselves Hansel and Gretel.
* In the
mangaseries Ludwig Revolution, Ludwig's stepbrother Julius hires Hansel and Gretel to assassinate Ludwig after Little Red Riding Hoodfails.
* In the first season of "
Sex and the City", episode The Baby Shower, after seeing spoiled children and hearing their screaming all day, Miranda is convinced that the witch in Hansel and Gretel is misunderstood.
* Chris Hansell (the popular UK guitarist, polo player, cookery book author) changed his name to Chris Thorr Grimm Gretel in 2007 (see more below).
* As at April 2008, Chris TG Gretel is reported in the UK media to be putting the finishing touches to his rock opera re-imagining of the story, entitled "Gretel and Hansel Rebooted".
* On 1 July 2008 Chris TG Gretel released a statement regarding his re-imagining of the story ("Gretel and Hansel Rebooted". His production company intends staging the production in December 2008 (dates/venue TBC). Significantly, some key plot teasers have been released; Gretel and Hansel face a magical wizard called Dor in the enchanted forest of Nose. A new character called Hawk appears in a vital sub-plot. By his own words, "dark human themes of greed, lust and hatred are explored - in some quite considerable depth and detail".
*In the video game,
We Love Katamarithere is a level in which, the character must roll up sweets for Hansel and Gretel. (They have a choice between a meadow or a Gingerbread House.)
Robot Chicken, the story is retold such that the old woman suggestively says: "I look forward to having you for dinner." Hansel cries " double entendre!" and forces her into the hot oven.
*In the third season of the popular television series
Supernatural, brothers Sam and Dean Winchester deal with the vengeful spirit of a comatose girl recreating the original Grimm's fairytales, one of which happens to be the story of Hansel and Gretel.
Vasilissa the Beautiful
*The Golden Stag
* [http://ibiblio.org/gutenberg/etext01/grimm10.txt Project Gutenberg e-text]
* [http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/hanselgretel/index.html SurLaLune Fairy Tale Pages: The Annotated Hansel and Gretel] . Includes an annotated version, literary history, public domain artwork, modern analysis, bibliography and book gallery.
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