Many grew up hearing the tale of Hansel and Gretel and the candy cottage they discover in the woods. The story comes from Germany and was written down by the Brothers’ Grimm. The tale shows how resourceful children can be and what they will do to stay alive. The story also tells how the brothers see witches and stepmothers.
A Trail of Breadcrumbs
Hansel and Gretel were siblings that lived with their woodcutter father and stepmother. A drought had hit the land making food scarce. The stepmother suggests that they take the children into the woods and leave them to be torn apart by the animals. Hansel filled his pockets with white peddles and left a trail for them to follow once the sun had set.
They soon return home to their father’s joy. A few weeks pass, and they were hit with another drought making the stepmother suggest the forest once again. This time locking the door to prevent Hansel from collecting the stones.
The next day Hansel made a trail of breadcrumbs from the piece of bread that was supposed to be his dinner but when night fell it was discovered that birds had eaten the bread. Lost, they wandered the woods until they discovered a small cottage made from sweets. The house belongs to a blind witch who lured children into her home to bake and eat them.
Lessons of the Tale
The children survive their journey through the forest and the witch’s cottage through cunning and determination to survive. Hansel creates paths of stone and breadcrumbs to find a safe path home after being stranded in the forest.
While in the witch’s cottage, he uses a bone when the witch feels his finger to see how fat he has become, and Gretel tricks the witch into the oven. Most would feel horrified about killing a person, but we are forced to do immoral things when faced with death. Gretel knew that in the end it was either kill the witch or die herself.
Modern Take on the Tale
A modern paranormal horror movie was created called Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters. The movie gives a gritter version of the fable showing Hansel and Gretel hunting down witches and killing them for a living.
The characters were also mentioned in the show Once Upon A Time, were Gretel was a student of Mother Gothel. She was later killed by Drucilla when competing for the final spot in the witch’s circle.
The fable tells a simple tale of two children trying to return home but there is a deeper message to the tale. The Brothers’ Grimm were known to have a more symbolic meaning to their fables to teach the reader a lesson. The tale focuses on breadcrumbs which can be reflected in life through our memories and actions. We leave notes to remind ourselves of what we have forgotten hoping that these small reminders will return us home.
Now, shush, I’m trying to read.