Monday, 14 April 2008


As for the second part, I'd like to narrate the story of Rumpelstilzchen and tell some thoughts to the story of my own.

(English version below)

Es war einmal ein Müller, der war arm, aber er hatte eine schöne Tochter. Und es traf sich, daß er mit dem König zu sprechen kam und ihm sagte: »ich habe eine Tochter, die weiß die Kunst, Stroh in Gold zu verwandeln.« Da ließ der König die Müllerstochter alsogleich kommen, und befahl ihr, eine ganze Kammer voll Stroh in einer Nacht in Gold zu verwandeln, und könne sie es nicht, so müsse sie sterben. Sie wurde in die Kammer eingesperrt, saß da und weinte, denn sie wußte um ihr Leben keinen Rath, wie das Stroh zu Gold werden sollte. Da trat auf einmal ein klein Männlein zu ihr, das sprach: »was giebst du mir, daß ich alles zu Gold mache?« Sie that ihr Halsband ab und gabs dem Männlein, und es that, wie es versprochen hatte. Am andern Morgen fand der König die ganze Kammer voll Gold; aber sein Herz wurde dadurch nur noch begieriger, und er ließ die Müllerstochter in eine andere, noch größere Kammer voll Stroh thun, das sollte sie auch zu Gold machen. Und das Männlein kam wieder, sie gab ihm ihren Ring von der Hand, und alles wurde wieder zu Gold. Der König aber hieß sie die dritte Nacht wieder in eine dritte Kammer sperren, die war noch größer als die beiden ersten und ganz voll Stroh, »und wenn dir das auch gelingt, sollst du meine Gemahlin werden.« Da kam das Männlein und sagte: »ich will es noch einmal thun, aber du mußt mir das erste Kind versprechen, das du mit dem König bekommst.« Sie versprach es in der Noth, und wie nun der König auch dieses Stroh in Gold verwandelt sah, nahm er die schöne Müllerstochter zu seiner Gemahlin.

Bald darauf kam die Königin ins Wochenbett, da trat das Männlein vor die Königin und forderte das versprochene Kind. Die Königin aber bat, was sie konnte und bot dem Männchen alle Reichthümer an, wenn es ihr ihr Kind lassen wollte, allein alles war vergebens. Endlich sagte es: »in drei Tagen komm ich wieder und hole das Kind, wenn du aber dann meinen Namen weißt, so sollst du das Kind behalten!«

Da sann die Königin den ersten und zweiten Tag, was doch das Männchen für einen Namen hätte, konnte sich aber nicht besinnen, und ward ganz betrübt. Am dritten Tag aber kam der König von der Jagd heim und erzählte ihr: ich bin vorgestern auf der Jagd gewesen, und als ich tief in den dunkelen Wald kam, war da ein kleines Haus und vor dem Haus war ein gar zu lächerliches Männchen, das sprang als auf einem Bein davor herum, und schrie:

»heute back ich, morgen brau ich,
übermorgen hohl ich der Frau Königin ihr Kind,
ach wie gut ist, daß niemand weiß,
daß ich Rumpelstilzchen heiß!«

Wie die Königin das hörte, ward sie ganz froh und als das gefährliche Männlein kam, frug es: Frau Königin, wie heiß ich? — »heißest du Conrad?« — Nein. — »Heißest du Heinrich?« — Nein.

Heißt du etwa Rumpelstilzchen?

Das hat dir der Teufel gesagt! schrie das Männchen, lief zornig fort und kam nimmermehr wieder.


By the side of a wood, in a country a long way off, ran a fine stream of water; and upon the stream there stood a mill. The miller's house was close by, and the miller, you must know, had a very beautiful daughter. She was, moreover, very shrewd and clever; and the miller was so proud of her, that he one day told the king of the land, who used to come and hunt in the wood, that his daughter could spin gold out of straw. Now this king was very fond of money; and when he heard the miller's boast his greediness was raised, and he sent for the girl to be brought before him. Then he led her to a chamber in his palace where there was a great heap of straw, and gave her a spinning-wheel, and said, 'All this must be spun into gold before morning, as you love your life.' It was in vain that the poor maiden said that it was only a silly boast of her father, for that she could do no such thing as spin straw into gold: the chamber door was locked, and she was left alone.

She sat down in one corner of the room, and began to bewail her hard fate; when on a sudden the door opened, and a droll-looking little man hobbled in, and said, 'Good morrow to you, my good lass; what are you weeping for?' 'Alas!' said she, 'I must spin this straw into gold, and I know not how.' 'What will you give me,' said the hobgoblin, 'to do it for you?' 'My necklace,' replied the maiden. He took her at her word, and sat himself down to the wheel, and whistled and sang:

'Round about, round about,
Lo and behold!
Reel away, reel away,
Straw into gold!'

And round about the wheel went merrily; the work was quickly done, and the straw was all spun into gold.

When the king came and saw this, he was greatly astonished and pleased; but his heart grew still more greedy of gain, and he shut up the poor miller's daughter again with a fresh task. Then she knew not what to do, and sat down once more to weep; but the dwarf soon opened the door, and said, 'What will you give me to do your task?' 'The ring on my finger,' said she. So her little friend took the ring, and began to work at the wheel again, and whistled and sang:

'Round about, round about,
Lo and behold!
Reel away, reel away,
Straw into gold!'

till, long before morning, all was done again.

The king was greatly delighted to see all this glittering treasure; but still he had not enough: so he took the miller's daughter to a yet larger heap, and said, 'All this must be spun tonight; and if it is, you shall be my queen.' As soon as she was alone that dwarf came in, and said, 'What will you give me to spin gold for you this third time?' 'I have nothing left,' said she. 'Then say you will give me,' said the little man, 'the first little child that you may have when you are queen.' 'That may never be,' thought the miller's daughter: and as she knew no other way to get her task done, she said she would do what he asked. Round went the wheel again to the old song, and the manikin once more spun the heap into gold. The king came in the morning, and, finding all he wanted, was forced to keep his word; so he married the miller's daughter, and she really became queen.

At the birth of her first little child she was very glad, and forgot the dwarf, and what she had said. But one day he came into her room, where she was sitting playing with her baby, and put her in mind of it. Then she grieved sorely at her misfortune, and said she would give him all the wealth of the kingdom if he would let her off, but in vain; till at last her tears softened him, and he said, 'I will give you three days' grace, and if during that time you tell me my name, you shall keep your child.'

Now the queen lay awake all night, thinking of all the odd names that she had ever heard; and she sent messengers all over the land to find out new ones. The next day the little man came, and she began with TIMOTHY, ICHABOD, BENJAMIN, JEREMIAH, and all the names she could remember; but to all and each of them he said, 'Madam, that is not my name.'

The second day she began with all the comical names she could hear of, BANDY-LEGS, HUNCHBACK, CROOK-SHANKS, and so on; but the little gentleman still said to every one of them, 'Madam, that is not my name.'

The third day one of the messengers came back, and said, 'I have travelled two days without hearing of any other names; but yesterday, as I was climbing a high hill, among the trees of the forest where the fox and the hare bid each other good night, I saw a little hut; and before the hut burnt a fire; and round about the fire a funny little dwarf was dancing upon one leg, and singing:

'"Merrily the feast I'll make.
Today I'll brew, tomorrow bake;
Merrily I'll dance and sing,
For next day will a stranger bring.
Little does my lady dream
Rumpelstiltskin is my name!"'

When the queen heard this she jumped for joy, and as soon as her little friend came she sat down upon her throne, and called all her court round to enjoy the fun; and the nurse stood by her side with the baby in her arms, as if it was quite ready to be given up. Then the little man began to chuckle at the thought of having the poor child, to take home with him to his hut in the woods; and he cried out, 'Now, lady, what is my name?' 'Is it JOHN?' asked she. 'No, madam!' 'Is it TOM?' 'No, madam!' 'Is it JEMMY?' 'It is not.' 'Can your name be RUMPELSTILTSKIN?' said the lady slyly. 'Some witch told you that!--some witch told you that!' cried the little man, and dashed his right foot in a rage so deep into the floor, that he was forced to lay hold of it with both hands to pull it out.

Then he made the best of his way off, while the nurse laughed and the baby crowed; and all the court jeered at him for having had so much trouble for nothing, and said, 'We wish you a very good morning, and a merry feast, Mr RUMPELSTILTSKIN!'


Something very interesting I noticed, is that the only "good" or at least honest character in the story is... Rumpelstilzchen. If you think about it, that father boasts with his daughter and puts her life in mortal danger by that. The king exploits the girl as far as he can and seems greedy and cold hearted threatening to kill the girl, if she can not make gold for him. The girl itself might be the victim, but she still promises out of her own free will her first born child as a queen to the dwarf. He lack of imagination can be no excuse here. Also once she got hold of the dwarf's real name, she starts playing with the dwarf, naming some wrong names first and then inocently speaks his real name in a picking tone. Finally when the name of Rumpelstilzchen is revealed the whole court laughs about the dwarfs and makes pranks on him.
On the other side, Rumpelstilzchen works his ass of three times to save the life of the miller's daughter. He spins straw into gold for what? A necklace and a ring, which both are a lot less worth than a pile of straw spun into gold.
Actually the dwarf seems pretty good minded and it would not be unlikely that he wants the first born (after she has become queen!) to raise that child as his own. Why? Because it might become king or queen later being the firstborn and the land would have a ruler, which was raised by the dwarf. Maybe Rumpelstilzchen even has some utopic ideals about a society where everyone is equal, which he intends to teach to the child hoping it would later incorporate and realize them as a ruler. Yet what compromises his demise is not his malevolence but on the contrary his kind kindheartedness. In spite of the promise the miller's daughter made, he has pity with her and gives her a chance to keep her child.

In my eyes this story is so much more. If you see it like that, it tells you how good hearted people, altruistically intending to make the world a better place and helping without demanding much, are always misunderstood and exploited and eventually laughed at by the society conform people.

That is what our kind has to learn to deal with :) And who knows what the original author had in mind composing the fairy tale.


Leslie P. Polzer said...

The German version is a bit terse, especially when compared to the English one. I wouldn't tell it that way orally :)

I think you're drawing more conclusions from the text than it gives away. While I rougly agree with your analysis of the persons involved, I'd be careful of attributing too much to the text, especially concerning the quite complicated field of social interaction.

It's also a blanket statement IMHO to say that “the good always lose”. On a broad scale this might seem so, but on an individual level we can often experience very deep displays of kindheartedness.


Vilwarin said...

thx for all the comments Leslie!

hehe I deliberately took a little bit more out of the text than it gives, only to show that a different view on the story is not unlikely. Of course giving Rumpelstilzchen the attributes of someone of the enlightenment (Aufklaerung) is a lot of arbitrary interpretation.

About the good one always loosing, that is not what I was trying to say or rather make the fairy tale say. Yet every such person will most probably face such situations in her/his life and should be prepared to deal with them and not break under them. Hopefully those encounters are overshadowed by "experiences of very deep displays of kindheartedness" :)