Most fairy-tale aficionados have a static view of their favorite stories. That is, indeed, part of the glory which these tales hold…the fact that they are timeless, forever remaining fond memories of unforgettable stories that had been repeated to them from a young age. In both the oral and written traditions, these stories perpetuated themselves and became fixtures upon the cultures of which they have taken hold. For most people, the idea of these classics ever having been different not only seems odd, but also shakes the foundations of their childhood memories.
However, stories are dynamic and ever-changing. What a follower of the aforementioned school-of-though fails to think about is why these stories would have been changed. Sometimes fairy tales change because the person recalling the story has a bad memory, while other times they are deliberately altered by a rewriter. Often times with rewrites, the story is changed so that it is relevant to both the modern times and the life history of the new author. Hansel and Gretel, the classic German fairy tale, is certainly no exception to this trend of changing fairy tales.
One of the most famous written versions of Hansel and Gretel (although not the original) is from the early 19th century. This edition was written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the German fairy-tale-writing duo more commonly known as “Brothers Grimm” (Ashliman). The story is about a young boy and girl, brother and sister, named Hansel and Gretel respectively. They lived at the edge of a great forest under the supervision of their father (a poor woodcutter) and their stepmother. The family was very poor and running low on food…soo...
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... by a common plot, slight changes changed the entire idea the story was trying to portray. The two different versions created two different images in the minds of readers/opera fans. Hansel and Gretel, like many other tales, has evolved and changed over time. Whether for reasons rooted in principle or simply out of practicality, fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel will be changed by new writers or orators. This, however, in no way detracts from their timelessness.
Ashliman, D.L. Grimm Brothers’ Home Page. 02 Sep. 2002. University of Pittsburgh Website. 21 Jan. 2004.
Brothers Grimm. “Hansel and Gretel.” The Classic Fairy Tales. Ed. Maria Tatar. New York: W.W. Norton, 1999. 179-90.
Engelbert Humperdinck. n.d. First Coast Opera. 21 Jan. 2004
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