The Violent and Weird Side of Grimm's Fairy Tales: Part Five

In this installment of our Grimm series, at least one of the fairy tales outlined is pretty sick and twisted. However, for the heck of it, I've thrown in one that is humorous and one that is just plain daffy. Each still has its own special brand of Grimm gruesomeness, though. They never disappoint in that area.

The Old Man and His Grandson

The Old Man and His Grandson is not so much about an old man and his grandson as it is the story of how the grandfather's treatment influences the child. In the very first paragraph, his son and his daughter-in-law neglect the old man because he cannot eat neatly enough in his old age. They seat him away from the dinner table and feed him less than he requires.

This quite short story ends with the man's grandson playing on the floor. Upon being asked what he is doing, the boy replies that he is building a trough for his parents to eat out of when they get old. The parents immediately begin treating the old man better. This is humorous in some ways, but it is a Grimm way to get the point across.

The Little Peasant

In a town where only The Little Peasant is poor, he tricks a cowherd into taking a fake cow out to pasture. When the cowherd fails to bring it back, the title character convinces the authorities that the cowherd lost his cow, thus gaining himself a cow as recompense. Later, he takes shelter from a storm with a woman who is kind enough to give him bread, cheese and shelter. The woman has a guest over for a feast of a dinner, but has to hide it and her male guest when her husband arrives unexpectedly. The Little Peasant tells the husband of the hidden food and guest, thus gaining himself monetary payment and a bit of the feast.

The other peasants in this town of mostly rich peasants suspect The Little Peasant is doing something devious, as he is becoming more prosperous. He is convicted on no evidence and sentenced to death by being placed in a barrel full of holes and rolled into the water. He tricks a shepherd into the barrel instead and then steals the shepherd's sheep. He then convinces the entire town to go into the water, where everyone drowns.  The moral here? Everyone is greedy and murderous?

Frederick and Catherine

The moral of this Grimm fairy tale appears to be that being an idiot pays off. Frederick and Catherine are newlyweds. Frederick quickly realizes that Catherine's weak mental faculties are costing him food and money. Long story short, they wind up chasing down some thieves after Catherine loses all of Frederick's money. Catherine is carrying the door to their house, as Frederick asked her to lock the door and she reasoned that he wanted to protect the door. She drops the door on the thieves from a tree when it gets too heavy. They run off. Fred and Cathy get their money back. Problems solved by a certifiable housewife.

Shelly Barclay