Gitta's Literary Escapades

Just another reader taking on (modern) classics, best-sellers, award-winners, non-fiction, and (guilty pleasure) chicklit armed with common sense, a brain and feminism.
SPOILER ALERT!

Sweetheart Roland by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Sweetheart Roland - Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm

This fairy-tale is not suitable for children.

The Brother Grimm's fairy tales are in the public domain and can be read online and downloaded to your e-reader or Kindle from Project Gutenberg for free (see links below).

 

You know you're stepmother is evil when she's willing to... chop your head off with an axe just so that her own daughter can have your... apron. When did asking become no longer an option? It's an apron after all.

 

Luckily our maiden overhears the plan and switches position with her stepsister in the bed they share or otherwise the story would end here. The maiden, naturally, can't stay and flees with her sweetheart Roland. But before they take of, the nameless maiden takes her stepmothers magic wand and leaves behind three blood drops. The girl and Roland manage to get far, far away.

 

Meanwhile in the morning, the talking blood drops quite literally guide the stepmother to her beheaded child who is lying in a pool of her own blood. In a rage, the stepmother puts on a great pair of boots that allow her to walk multiple miles per step (I'd personally like a pair, that would allow me to catch up with people who have been walking for, let's say, eight hours in just eight easy steps). So the head-start they had, the hours of walking all evening was all in vain because the wicked witchy woman catches up with them in minutes.

 

The Plot

Warning: Spoilers.

Just before the catches the love birds, the girl changes Roland into a pool and herself into a duck. The stepmother tries to lure the duck - by feeding it breadcrumbs - for hours but eventually has to go home. Apparently a duck is too much of a challenge for a witch. They walk again all evening and in the morning the girl turns Roland into a fiddler and herself into a flower. The witch's morning stroll brings her back to the couple and she wants to pick the flower. Roland begins to play the fiddle which forces the witch to dance herself to death.

Now it's time for the wedding. Roland goes to his father to make the appropriate arrangements and the girl offers to turn herself into a red landmark and wait for Roland to return. Roland, devoted as he is his fiancé completely forgets all about her as soon as he sees the next pretty thing. As a landmark, what do you have to live for? So, the magic continues as she changes herself into a flower hoping to be trampled to death. But, a shepherd finds her so pretty that he plucks her and takes her home. Whilst the shepherd is out of the house, our maiden finds nothing better to do than to clean and cook for him every day. The shepherd finds this slightly odd, oddly enough and finds out that he has not been housing a flower, but a maiden. Her cleaning and cooking must have impressed him, for he asks her to marry him. Still hung up on Roland, she refuses, but since she has no purpose in life now that Roland has abandoned her, she agrees to continue to cook and clean for the shepherd.

But moving on is not an option for our maiden, because tradition decrees that all girls need to sing at weddings. And if it's tradition... So, the sad girl goes to Roland's wedding and sings. Roland recognising her voice and the hold his bride had over him was suddenly gone. He dumps her, wants to get back together with the maiden and they highjack the wedding and get married. The end.

 

I would never read this to my future children and not because of the violence it contains. The moral of Sweetheart Roland is basically that if you wait long enough for your man to return - provided you meanwhile work on your housewife skills - will pay of in the end. Marriage is the only thing important to the girl, who has not even earned a name. If that doesn't happen, you are encouraged to enter into domestic servitude under a man with whom you have a Platonic relationship, because fidelity is everything and a girl should never move on with her life, marry the shepherd and try to find some happiness in life. I am very glad that the feminists have created a world in which women have a name, a voice and actively make decisions that are for their own good and not passively wait around for prince charming to wise up. This particular fairy-tale, in my opinion, therefore, should not belong on a modern children's reading list.

 

 

Description & Where to Buy

 

First published: 1812
Original title: Der Liebste Roland (in Kinder- und Hausmärchen)
Author: Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm
Edition: Online at Project Gutenberg
Pages: 24
Read: 5 May 2013
ISBN: N/A
   
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