“Tomorrow I Brew, Today I bake,
and then the child away I’ll take”
When I posted about doing these “Friday Fairytales”, Annette/ Booknerderie requested that I do Rumpelstiltskin, so here you go!
On the Aarne Thompson Scale, Rumpelstiltskin falls under: “500: Supernatural Helpers”
Rumplestiltskin is German in origin, where he is known as “Rumpelstilzchen” and was first “collected” by the Brothers Grimm in 1812.
Original Source: For this week’s tale, I will be referring to Andrew Lang’s Blue Book of Fairy Tales pg. 96 and The Barnes and Nobles Leatherbound Edition of the Brothers Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales pg. 236
There was once a poor miller who, in order to make himself appear more important to the King, he boasted that his beautiful daughter who could spin straw into gold.
The King sees this golden opportunity (OH HO), and tells the Miller to bring his daughter to the palace, where the King proceeds to lock her in a room filled with straw.
He tells her, if she has not spun every piece of straw into gold by the dawn, she will die. (Gee, thanks Dad.)
The daughter begins to cry, knowing there is no way she can spin the straw into gold, when the door opens again and a little man enters. He offers to spin the straw into gold for her if she should offer him a gift- she offers him her necklace.
The next day the King is impressed and wants more. He puts her in a bigger room filled with straw and tells her the same threat. The little man appears again and she offers him her ring in exchange for his task.
The king comes the next day and does exactly the same thing, a bigger room, same threat- except this time he says if she succeeds, he will marry her.
When the little man appears, the daughter tells him she has nothing more to give. So he bargains with her: he will complete the task if, when she is Queen, she will give him her first-born child. The daughter sees no way out of it and agrees with him, thinking “who knows what could happen before that…”
A year later she has had a baby boy and the little man appears. She tries to give him riches instead but he replies “No, a living creature is more dearer to me than all the treasures in the world”. However, he tells her if she can guess his name in three days, she can keep her child.
The Queen sends a messenger to scour the land for any names he can come across. When she sees the little man, she tries “Kasper, Melchior, Belshazzar” but to each one, the man replies “that’s not my name”.
She tries “Sheepshainks, Cruickshanks” (HERMIONE?!) and “Spindleshainks” but none of them were his name (god, why not just try “John” or something).
On the third day, the messenger returns and tells the Queen that he stumbled across a little man outside of a cottage who was dancing around a fire singing: “Tomorrow I brew, To-day I’ll bake, and then the child away I’ll take. For little deems my Royal dame, that Rumpelstiltskin is my name!”
When the little man next appears, she tells him his name. He cries out “Some demon has told you that!”… “and in his rage drove his right foot so far into the ground that it sank up to his waist; then in a passion, he seized his left foot with both hands and tore himself in two”.
Eugh, what a gorey ending to the tale. Imagine the mess she had to clean up. Unless it’s like the demons in Charmed and they conveniently clean up after themselves.
In the 1812 edition, the ending is less gorey and Rumpelstiltskin just throws a temper tantrum and disappears. The final edition from 1852 is where he tears himself in two. Other editions say that when he stomps his foot into the ground, he creates a chasm which he falls into. There is also one, fairly bizarre, ending where he flies out of the window on a cooking ladle. (Yes, this one made me laugh. Upon discussing this with my friend, we decided he should be in the Wacky Races “in a biker jacket with a spinning wheel motif on the back, shades and a customised flying ladle”).
Another version of the poem Rumpelstiltskin is overheard singing goes: “tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll go to the king’s house, nobody knows my name, I’m called Rumpelstiltskin“- I prefer the Grimm’s version as it actually rhymes.
There are multiple variations on this tale across the globe, originating in England, Scotland, Arabic, Russia and even Japan. Interestingly, the name “Rumpelstiltskin” is similar to the word for “poltergeist” or “rumpelgeist” (Rattle Ghost).
I can’t say I’ve read any re-tellings surrounding the tale of Rumpelstiltskin myself, and I suppose since it isn’t the most popular of tales, I was only able to really find one “re-telling” which was not a young children’s book of the original tale.
Rumplestiltskin- Jenni James, which is a re-telling from Rumpelstiltskin’s perspective, giving you a backstory surrounding him.
Could this be classed as a Cautionary Tale? If so, how?
Maybe it could be a tale to warn you against bragging and lying? Since it’s her father’s lie about her “talents” which gets her into this mess in the first place.
Do you think this tale is aimed towards Children, or can it be for Adults as well?
Something about this tale automatically makes me think it is geared towards children. I can’t quite put my finger on how though. Either by using Rumpelstiltskin to put some sort of a name and face to the scary goblin under the bed who will take them if they are naughty- or simply to demonstrate to children why they should never tell porky pies.
Did you notice any interesting patterns or underlying themes in this story?
A lot of this story relies on calling someone’s bluff. The dangers of lying, I suppose?
Is this a tale you would tell your children? If so, which version would you prefer? If not, why not?
Maybe if they were being bratty, I’d tell them this to scare them into thinking if they were naughty, Rumpelstiltskin would come and take them away? (because I’m mean like that)
Readers: Is there a specific tale you would like me to discuss/analyse in the future?
Next Week: I’m going to be delving into the world of Beauty and the Beast– so feel free to read or re-watch your favourite versions of this popular tale and join in some discussions next week!