Hansel and Gretel

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Illustration by Arthur Rackham, 1909

"Hansel and Gretel" (German: Hânsel und Grethel) is a fairy tale from Germany. The Brothers Grimm heard it from Dortchen Wild in Cassel and published it in their Children's and Household Tales in 1812. The Grimms revised the tale over the years. They gave the children names, changed the mother to a stepmother, and introduced Christian motifs. Their final version is dated 1857. The tale has been adapted to many media, most notably the opera Hänsel und Gretel (1893) by Engelbert Humperdinck. A stop-motion animated movie based on the opera was made in the 1950s.

Story[change | change source]

Hansel and Gretel are a young brother and sister who learn their parents intend to abandon them in the forest. They find their way home by leaving a trail of pebbles. One day however, their parents succeed. The children wander the forest and come upon a house made of cake and candy. It belongs to an old woman who makes the children prisoners. She intends to eat them and prepares the oven. Gretel outwits her. She pushes the old woman into the oven and slams the door.

References[change | change source]

  • Opie, Iona and Peter. 1974. The Classic Fairy Tales. Oxford UP. pp. 236-7.
  • Tatar, Maria. 2002. The Annoted Classic Fairy Tales. Norton. pp. 44-5.
  • Zipes, Jack (Ed.) 2002. The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales. Norton. pp. 225-6.