Happy Valentine’s Day, readers! We thought we’d bring you some classic fairy tales in the spirit of all things love.
These stories, however, have a bitter twist in their tale. Our ‘Not-so Happily Ever After Fairy Tales – The Real Endings’ is a collection of stories for the lovers of the anti-valentine. You’ll be familiar with these tales and their better-known, rose-tinted versions. So buckle up for mutilated extremities, extreme death by hot iron shoes, and to put it plainly- suicide in the name of love.
A German Cinderella from The Brothers Grimm
Let’s begin with the well-known story of Cinderella. A fairy Godmother transforms poor, mistreated Cinderella, sends her off to the Palace ball where she finds her Prince and falls in love. She leaves her shoe behind on departure, the Prince searches the kingdom, eventually tracks down his love and the pair run off into the sunset. It’s a classic. In this version by the Brothers Grimm, however, the evil stepsisters get exactly what they deserve. When the Prince arrives at the house of Cinderella with the lost shoe, the wicked Stepmother forces both of her daughters, in turn, to chop off various parts of their feet to make them fit inside the shoe. In the bloody attempt to trick the Prince into marrying one of her own, it is to no surprise that her plan fails – especially when they are bleeding from their severed feet. The Prince rejects them both. Cinderella eventually gets her foot into the slipper, and the pair are to be married. On the day of the wedding, the two stepsisters arrive to get in Cinderella’s good books in the hope that she’ll share her fortune. Not-so unfortunately for the ugly pair, their eyes are pecked out by pigeons…
‘And thus, for their wickedness and falsehood, they were punished with blindness as long as they lived.’
Read the full story here:
The Little Mermaid
A Hans Christian Andersen Tale
This sweet story of a mermaid that falls in love with a human prince is a classic fairy tale. Written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837, the story has been adapted the world over, including the famous animated love story from Disney. In Hans Andersen’s version, however, there is not such a happy ending. The irreversible deal that the Little Mermaid makes with the Sea Witch (where she swaps her voice for legs) comes with the deal that she has to make the Prince fall in love and marry her to gain an immortal soul. If she does not succeed, her heart will break, and she will ‘turn into foam on the water’. When she goes on land to find her true love, she fails to win the Prince’s hand in marriage. Little Mermaid has to watch her Prince marry someone else, knowing that the day of the wedding arrives will be her last. Her mersisters catch her before the dawn of the wedding day having made a bargain with the Sea Witch – the Little Mermaid is allowed to return to the ocean if she kills her beloved. They give her an enchanted knife with which has to kill the Prince before sunrise, but if she doesn’t, the spell will work and she’ll turn into sea foam. She goes slightly insane from a broken heart and generally considers this option before bottling it, chucking the knife, and then herself overboard -‘
once more she looked at the prince, with her eyes already dimmed by death, then dashed overboard and fell, her body dissolving into foam.’
The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen – The Golden Age of Illustration Series
Little Red Riding Hood
Le Petit Chaperon Rouge from Charles Perrault.
We all know the story of Little Red Riding Hood. The tale of a little girl who takes some food to her sick Grandmother and meets a wolf on the way. The cunning Wolf beats Red Riding Hood to her Grandmother’s house, where he eats the old lady, dresses up like the Grandmother to trick the little girl, and then ends up eating Red Riding Hood too. In most common children’s versions, the little girl escapes unharmed from the Woolf, whether that’s by being cut out of the Wolf’s stomach by a huntsman, or by her Grandmother that catches the Wolf and disposes of him down a well (In the English version – The True Story of Little Golden Hood). In this version from Charles Perrault, Little Red Riding Hood gets eaten by the Wolf, and then the story ends.
The moral of the story?
‘From this short story easy we discern
What conduct all young people ought to learn.
But above all, young, growing misses fair,
Whose orient rosy blooms begin t’ appear:
Who, beauties in the fragrant spring of age,
With pretty airs young hearts are apt t’ engage.
Ill do they listen to all sorts of tongues,
Since some inchant and lure like Syrens’ songs.
No wonder therefore’ tis, if over-power’d,
So many of them has the Wolf devour’d.
The Wolf, I say, for Wolves too sure there are
Of every sort, and every character.
Some of them mild and gentle-humour’d be,
Of noise and gall, and rancour wholly free;
Who tame, familiar, full of complaisance
Ogle and leer, languish, cajole and glance;
With luring tongues, and language wond’ rous sweet,
Follow young ladies as they walk the street,
Ev’n to their very houses, nay, bedside,
And, artful, tho’ their true designs they hide;
Yet ah! These simpering Wolves! Who does not see
Most dangerous of Wolves indeed they be?’
Read the full fairy tale here:
The German Snow White Tale by the Brothers Grimm
Everyone knows the famous tale of Snow White, but the original German fairy tale has many darker twists and turns than the version we know and love today. This tale of Little Snow White tells the story of a powerless young beauty and the trials and tribulations she goes through after escaping from her evil Stepmother. After MANY close shaves with death- this includes a poisoned comb and the classic poisoned apple, Snow White eventually finds her Prince, and they are to be married (a happy ending for them – yes). As for the Stepmother, when she hears of one more beautiful than her, she arrives at the wedding of Snow White and the Prince, where they are already waiting for her. “And when she saw her she knew her for Snow-white, and could not stir from the place for anger and terror. For they had ready red-hot iron shoes, in which she had to dance until she fell down dead.” Death by hot iron shoes is a pretty brutal one, making quite a sticky ending for the Evil Stepmother. Revenge at its finest.
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