Fairy Tale of the Week:
“Rumpelstiltskin” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
One of my favorites, yay!
There was a miller who had a beautiful daughter, but not much else. He had to see the King once, and–wanting to impress the King or something–he told the King that his daughter could spin straw into gold. The King was like, “Hmm, that’s an interesting talent. Bring her to me and we’ll see what she can do.”
So, the miller’s daughter was taken to the King and he put her in a room full of straw with a spinning wheel and locked her in overnight, telling her that if she couldn’t spin it all into gold by morning, she was dead.
Obviously, the miller’s daughter was distraught and started to cry.
But wait! A little man opened the door and came inside. He asked her why she was so upset, and the girl explained. The man asked her what she would give him if he spun the straw into gold for her, and she offered him her necklace. He sat down before the wheel and spun all the straw to gold.
The next morning, the King was surprised, but very pleased with his room full of gold, but he was a greedy man. So, he had the girl locked in a larger room full of straw the next night, telling her once more that she had to spin it all into gold by morning or die.
Again, she wept over her predicament, and again, the little imp appeared and asked her what she would give him if he performed the task for her. She offered him her ring and he went to work.
The King was delighted at what he found the next morning, but wanted more. So, he put the miller’s daughter into an even larger room and told her if she could spin all the straw in that room to gold, he would make her his Queen.
When she was alone that night, the little man came to her again and asked what she would give him. She had nothing left to give, but he suggested that–if she became Queen–she give him her firstborn child. Desperate, and probably not feeling certain that would actually become Queen, she agreed to the imp’s terms. He spun all the straw to gold for her once more.
The King kept his word, and the miller’s daughter became Queen.
A year later, she’d forgotten the little man and she had a child. But the little man had not forgotten their bargain, and he came to collect. The Queen was desperate to get out of the deal and offered him riches, but he declined and told her something alive was worth more to him than any treasure. When she cried, he pitied her. He gave her three days to get out of giving him the child. If, within that time, she discovered his name, she could keep her baby.
The Queen thought of every name she could and sent someone out to find even more names. When the imp returned the next day, she said all the names, but to each he replied, “That is not my name.” She did the same thing the second day, but with the same results.
On the third day, the messenger returned and told her he hadn’t found any new names in the villages, but in the forest, he’d come upon a small house with a fire burning in front of it and a small man was jumping around that fire and shouting. Within the lines he was shouting, he named himself.
The Queen was very happy to hear this name, and when the imp returned and asked her if she knew his name, she at first continued with common names. But then, she said, “Perhaps your name is Rumpelstiltskin?”
The little imp was enraged and accused her of getting his name from the devil. In his anger, he thrust one of his legs deep into the ground. In his efforts to free himself, he pulled so hard on his leg that he tore himself in two.
Rating and thoughts:
5 out of 5 stars because I have always loved this fairytale. I remember reading and re-reading it when I was really young, and I had several different versions of the story. I loved them all.
In other media:
I know I’ve seen more than the ones I’m listing, like an episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog, and that animated…I think…fairy tales show that was on back in the ’90s, and probably a lot more. Rumpelstiltskin is one of those tales that has inspired a lot of media, from characters in movies and TV shows, to songs and poetry and novels and probably some video game characters. But these are the ones I remember best.
- There was a musical version of the story from 1987 that I watched probably 50 times when I was a kid, and I would love to get it on DVD or something because I remember it being one of my absolute favorite movies. I probably drove my family crazy with it for a while.
- Then, in 1995, there was a B-horror movie, which I remember also enjoying, but I don’t remember much about it except I think Rumpel ended up on a motorcycle at some point. That’s another one I’d love to re-watch.
- I think he was kind of a character in one of the Shrek movies, or maybe there was an antagonist based on him?
- He also made an appearance in Happily N’Ever After (or the sequel, maybe), but I haven’t seen those in a while so I’m not sure how prominent his role was.
- There was an episode of Grimm (“Nameless”) in which a Wessen was named Trinket Lipslums, which is an anagram of his name. I really liked that episode, probably because I caught on right away that it was Rumpel inspired.
- And, finally, Once Upon a Time. I could probably write a huge blog post about Rumpel and all the crossovers with other fairy tales that happened in that show. This Rumpel is my favorite Rumpel, and I have a lot of feelings about The Dark One. I love this show, and I love Rumpel’s deals.
Rumpelstiltskin is really a “Be careful what you wish for” kind of story, and is probably the foundation of why I am very wary of making deals 😛