Rumpelstilskin – What Does This Fairy Tale Really Mean?


Today we explore the deeper meaning of the fairy tale Rumpelstilskin according to the Brothers Grimm.

A miller claims of his beautiful daughter that she can spin straw into gold and wants to marry her off to the king. The king sends for the daughter and gives her the task of spinning a chamber full of straw into gold overnight, otherwise she must die. The miller’s daughter is desperate until a little man appears, offers her help in exchange for her collar and spins the straw into gold for her. On the second night the same thing happens again, this time for the price of a ring. The king then promises the girl marriage if she can spin another chamber full of straw into gold. This time the male demands her first child from the miller’s daughter, which she finally agrees too.

After the wedding and the birth of the first child, the male demands the promised reward. The miller’s daughter offers him all the riches of the kingdom, but the male demands her child. Softened by her tears, he gives her three days to guess his name. If she knows it on the third night, she will be allowed to keep the child. On the first night, the queen tries all the names she knows, but without success. On the second night, she tries unsuccessfully with names she has asked her subjects for. The next day she learns from a messenger that a little man lives in a small house far away, who dances and sings around a fire at night:

Today I bake, tomorrow I brew,
the day after tomorrow I’ll fetch the queen’s child;
Oh, how good it is that no one knows
that my name is Rumpelstiltskin!

The queen first asks whether Rumpelstilzchen’s name is “Kunz” or “Hinz”, and only then gives the correct name that has been handed down. Thus she solves the riddle, and Rumpelstilzchen tears himself apart with rage with the words:

“The devil told you that!”

Robin’s interpretation:
It’s about someone who is something other than he or she pretends to be. In truth, this someone is something evil – in the oldest surviving version, after being unmasked, the person turns into a bat and flutters out through the open window into the night sky.

“Today I bake, tomorrow I brew, the day after tomorrow I fetch the child from the queen.” The ogre prepares a feast (presumably for trolls), with the child as the main course.

The fairy tale is a warning for children not to go with strangers.

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