Dark Origins – Hansel and Gretel

My Dark Origins article today features the Grimm’s Fairy Tale, Hansel and Gretel. This tale is already dark and scary but its underlying origins are really quite horrifying.

Writing to be Read

Most people are familiar with the story of Hansel and Gretel, a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm and published in their Grimm’s Fairy Tales in 1812.

In summary, the story goes as follows:

Hansel and Gretel are a brother and sister whose starving parents decide to abandon them in the forest. Hansel overhears his parents plotting and drops pebbles on the path so that he and Gretel can find their way home later. The family’s plight does not improve and a short while later the mother [or stepmother depending on the version] persuades the father to take the children into the forest again and leave them there. This time, Hansel drops a trail of breadcrumbs but the birds eat them and the two children become lost in the forest.

The starving children come across a gingerbread house and they begin to break off bits and eat it…

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15 thoughts on “Dark Origins – Hansel and Gretel

    1. I also reflected on this story, Rebecca. I read Grimm’s at a young age and many of the stories fascinated me. Bluebeard scared me the most and one of my short stories in Spellbound was loosely based around the idea of Bluebeard.

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  1. My older daughter was fascinated by fairy takes, and particularly liked Hansel and Gretel. I never sensed she was afraid if being abandoned though. The story makes a lot of sense in historical context. There will always be hard times, but we should do our best not to make them worse. Starvation is cruel, and leads to more cruelty. (K)

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  2. The stories were frightening, Robbie. I think in the ancient time, it was more common to abandon their children for various reasons. They didn’t have the heart to see the children die and somehow left them for fate. I have a friend whose parents abandoned her sand she was left in an orphanage for five years in Russia under poor condition. She was lucky to be alive and eventually made it to the US.

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    1. I think people had very strong believes in fate and interventions back then. It was a question of necessity I suppose. It all sounds horrific to us though and I am glad to hear your friend survived. Times were very hard in Russia at one point in history.

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