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Brown 1

Sierra Brown
Karen Hiday
ENGL 202
23 February 2015
Grimm Fairy Tales
I chose to research the Grimm Brothers fairy tales. These tales were pretty new to me. I
had only heard of a few of them. I knew that they were different than any other of the fairy tales.
Through my research, I learned a lot about the Grimm Brothers, the origin of their tales, and the
influence on those who view them.
Jacob Grimm was born in 1785 and Wilhelm in 1786. The Grimm brothers were German.
Jacob and Wilhelm are known for the fairy tales and folklore. They collected many stories in the
19th century and made many other stories popular. Some of these stories include, Cinderella,
The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, and Snow White.
Together, the Grimm brothers collected and published tales. While attending University, the
Grimm brothers became curious about German folklore. This curiosity led them to collect many
German tales throughout the course of their lives. The brothers worked in a library as librarians.
The job didnt pay much, but being in the library gave them a lot of time to research and publish
their books. (Brothers Grimm) In 1812, Jacob and Wilhelm published their first book of tales.
There were many editions of their book. Between 1812 and 1864, the book was published a total
of 17 times. In the 1812 volume, there were 86 tales. The second volume added 70. There were
170 tales in the expanded second edition that was published in 1819. With each edition of the
book, there were many changes. The last book, seventh edition, held 211 tales. They were

Grimm Fairy Tales

published in the years 1812, 1815,1819, 1822,1837,1840,1843,1850, and 1857. These books all
contained very extensive illustrations. The Grimm brothers did not illustrate their books. The
books were illustrated by Philipp Grot Johann and Robert Leinweber.(Grimms) The brothers
goal was to preserve fairy tales. They did not mean to become famous or entertainers. This was
accidental. (Brothers Grimm: Fairy Tales, History, Facts, and More)
The Grimm brothers would refer to their first volumes as Childrens Tales, they were
often criticized for this. They were criticized because the scholarly tales were not appropriate for
children. These stories often contained sexual references. This can be seen first hand in the first
edition of Rapunzel when she asks why her dress was tight around her belly and having visits
with the prince. Much of the sexual references were removed and some of the violence was
increased. The most violent parts of many of the tales take place when the villain is being
punished. The Grimm brothers published a specific version of the book for children to read. This
edition contained 50 tales. There were a total of ten editions of the small edition for child readers
between 1825 and 1858.
The Grimm Fairytales were very influential and the influence was widespread. During
World War II, the books were praised and could even be considered a founding work of Western
culture. Adolf Hitler used the tales as an example to show that you should seek marriage partners
of the same race. Because Adolf Hitler felt so strongly about them, the Allied forces actually
warned against them. Other collectors were influenced by the Grimm brothers. They were
inspired to collect their own tales. (Grimms)
The Grimm tales were the second most popular book in the 20th century in Germany. The
first was the Bible. The popularity of the tales was increasing. While collecting and researching,
the Grimm brothers created a model for the science of folklore. This set standards for future

Grimm Fairy Tales

stories and analysis of legends. The influence of the tales spread when Walt Disney released
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. This specific tale shows good over evil and
innocence over oppression. (Brothers Grimm) Many Grimm tales, such as Hansel and Gretel
and Little Red Riding Hood have become very popular in modern childrens literature. These
stories are featured in coloring books, cartoons, and shows. Some of the other Grimm Tales did
not maintain their popularity. They are often considered too gruesome. Although it is disputed,
the Grimm stories continue to remain popular all over the world. Educators debated teaching
Grimm tales in schools in the twentieth century. They were torn because of the gruesome stories
include brutality and violence. This led to some of the grimmest stories being sanitized. It is
believed by some educators that children should not be exposed to cruelty in any form. They
believed that stories that contained cruelty could pose more harm than good. (Brothers Grimm) It
is still believed that it is not necessary for tales to have happy endings. An article, No more
happy endings, states One way of understanding the fairy tale is to see it as dramatizing the
human confrontation with nature and the impenetrability of destiny. (Williams) I feel that this
is a great way to understand fairy tales
As I read the Grimm brothers fairytales, I realized most of them are very gruesome and
often graphic. Many have signs of death, murder, harm, sexuality, and often evil ideas. Most
would be considered R-rated. Until they were edited and sanitized, I do not believe they were
specifically suitable for children. I do, however, believe that we can learn from the tales of the
Grimm brothers. These tales, their writers, and their collectors shared much knowledge with
those who read and study them. When Walt Disney adapted them, they were cleaned up, or
sanitized. When this happened, the tales were made suitable for children. This allowed them to

Grimm Fairy Tales

be studied and ready by a larger number of people. This also made it so that the children could
learn the lessons of the tales without being subjected to the horrific ideas of the original tales.
Reading through these tales was very entertaining and kind of creepy at the same time.
They shocked me. I learned that fairy tales do not have to have happy endings. They do not have
to be all rainbows and butterflies. They can have these things, but it is not completely necessary.

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Works Cited

"Brothers Grimm: Fairy Tales, History, Facts, and More." Brothers Grimm: Fairy Tales, History,
Facts and More. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2015
"Brothers Grimm." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.
"Grimms' Fairy Tales." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.
Williams, Rowan. No More Happy Endings. New Statesman (2014): 90-92. Academic Search
Premier. Web. 20 Feb 2015