GRIMM’S COMPLETE FAIRY TALES: Tales 9-12
#9 THE TWELVE BROTHERS
Suppose you were the father of twelve sons, and you really wanted a daughter. How should you honor the daughter’s birth and spoil her? Well, the obvious choice would be to commission twelve caskets to be built and ready so that you can kill all twelve of your sons, making way for your daughter to be the heir of everything. Seriously. I’m only nine tales in at this point and its almost as if the Grimms are writing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Terrible Parent. At least it ends with a creative punishment for one of the evil parents in the story: “The wicked stepmother was taken before the judge, and put into a barrel filled with boiling oil and venomous snakes, and died an evil death.”
#10 THE PACK OF RAGAMUFFINS
This tale is basically the equivalent of The Hangover with farm animals. A cock and a hen eat too many nuts, decide to build a carriage out of the nutshells, beat up a duck together and force him to pull the carriage, pick up a pin and a needle as hitchhikers, beg an innkeeper to let them stay for the night, eat his eggs, hide the needle in his chair cushion and the pin in his hand towel, and then hightail it without paying a dime. All we’re missing here is someone stealing Mike Tyson’s tiger.
#11 LITTLE BROTHER AND LITTLE SISTER
What is it with Kings or princes insisting on marrying these women they find in weird situations? Listen up royals, there’s a few things to consider: One, consent. Duh. Second, you don’t know this girl and she sure doesn’t know you. At least take her on a date so you can see if the two of you have chemistry, you know? Third, especially in fairy tale land, you don’t know what kind of magical madness is going on in this woman’s life. For instance, she could have a brother that’s been turned into a deer by a literal babbling brook, and/or she might get suffocated and replaced by her evil witch stepmother before being unceremoniously resurrected. Look before you leap, bro.
So there’s more than a few things here that differ from the classic TV and movie representations of Rapunzel, but there’s a particular detail of this tale that struck me: Did you know that the name Rapunzel comes from Campanula rapunculus, which is a type of leafy plant you can eat? Why is that important, you ask? Well, it was Rapunzel’s mother’s desire to eat some of this plant from an enchantress’s garden. Mom sends her husband to steal it, he gets caught in the act, and the parents’ price for the dinner is to give the enchantress their first born daughter to raise as her own. That’s right folks: Rapunzel’s mom sold her out for a salad. A SALAD.