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.

The Robber Bridegroom by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

The Robber Bridegroom - Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm

This fairy tale is not suitable for children.

Our young maiden is promised to a wealthy man (Nothing new there.) who wants her to visit him. (Reasonable.) He lives in a dark forest. (Nothing good ever happens in forests, especially in dark ones and especially in fairy tales. This is when alarm bells should start ringing.) She enters his lair, encounters an old lady who hides her (their domestic slave?!).


"This had scarcely happened when the godless band came home. They were dragging with them another maiden. They were drunk and paid no attention to her screams and sobs."


The Robber Bridegroom has a happy ending, though. Not for the other maiden; she is poisoned to death, chopped into pieces in preparation for the bandits' stew. The betrothed maiden manages to escape with the old woman and they arrive back home safely.


The Robber Bridegroom

On the wedding day, the wicked robber arrives, unsuspecting. Over some food, the bride recounts a dream she had. This "dream" is what she saw in the lair. How she arrived. How a bird at the entrance of the lair warned her. How she met the old woman. One of the robbers, after they had cut up the beautiful maiden and seasoned her, saw that she was wearing a beautiful ring. However, chopping of the finger to take the jewel of, the finger sprung away and fell right into the maiden's lap, who was hiding. This finger, the maiden had carried with her, she now showed to her betrothed. The cannibal, naturally, tries to escape, but the relatives of the bride stopped him and the robber and his band were executed.


The thing that is unusual about this tale is -- apart from the groom's gastronomical preferences -- is the fact that the maiden is portrayed as a relatively strong, active character. She does not need a man to rescue her and the escape is only successful because she had been smart on her way to the lair. Moreover, she is the one who tricks her betrothed. She did not cry on her father's shoulder and let him sort out his mess - after all, he was the one who betrothed her to the first man who seemed he had a bit of wealth to him. There is no fainting, no sleeping, no princely romance. Take that, patriarchy!


Description & Where to Buy


This work is in the public domain and can be read and downloaded for free to read online or on your e-reader or Kindle at Project Gutenberg. 


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
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