|Illustration by Rui Tenreiro|
|Illustration by Pietari Posti|
ALSO read "So much depends on a pretty heroine".
I don’t think any person is being dishonest here and certainly no promise is broken. The parties knew well the terms and conditions before entering into the “deals”. To me, they all play by the mutually agreed rules. Rumpelstiltskin and the stranger have no one but themselves to blame for being outsmarted.
And your title says “Fairy tales teach us to be bad”- Must fairy tales be didactic? Or it’s just there to reflect life? To make fun for the poor people and stir up imaginations a bit out of the daily hardship.
The Grimme brothers were bought up by their mother under difficult circumstances- so they tend to be fond of those tales in which women are more sophisticated? cunning? The women characters in the tales are just tricky but not really too deceitful. They have to do whatever they could do to survive and save their family. Are they that bad in this sense?
Haha. I don’t know what u’ll say about it. You’re free now? Congrats!
The Miller is symbol of the Masculine family authority figure, The King is the symbol of the masculine Social authority figure. The daughter is symbolic of the Feminine in a subservient position to both of the Masculine figures.
The Miller tells the King that his daughter can turn straw into gold. This is magical creativity. And the greedy King puts the daughter to the test. She is locked in a room at night with straw and if it is not turned into gold, she dies. This shows how the feminine is held responsible for the lie of her father.
The Necklace and Ring symbolize the daughter’s personal possessions as aspects of herself which by having been worn by her, have been infused with her being. Also both are round in form which is symbolic of the feminine. Rumpelstiltskin wants connection to the Feminine, but also wants her first born child when she has nothing else to give her. The child is the creative manifestation that comes from women.
He then changes the bargain. If she can guess his name, he will let her keep her child.
In Jungian Psychology there is the idea of the inner Feminine side in men, called the “Anima”, and the inner Masculine side in women, called the “Animus”.
This may seem like a strange idea, but if you consider that what makes a women feminine is to a large extent her hormones, especially Estrogen. And for men the same hold true of their masculinity being a function of Testosterone.
But Women also have Testosterone, and men have Estrogen as well. In old age when men and women go through menopause, women often take on characteristics of men, and vice versa because of the change in hormone levels. This does not prove the existence of the Anima and Animus I admit, but it is suggestive.
This is what happens with the Miller’s daughter. She is locked in a room with the command to do the impossible, or she will die. This sounds pretty overwhelming to me. Then magically there appears this little man who can save her with his magical creativity.
The final part of the story concerns his name, Rumpelstiltskin. We as humans rely on names. In many magical traditions, to know the name of something is to have power over it. But knowing the true name of someone or something also implies having a deeper connection.
Thus Rumpelstiltskin needs for the daughter to find his true name so that he can be in good relationship with her. If she cannot get his name, then he will have power over her.
Men having power over women has been the pattern of patriarchal society for a long time. When his name is revealed, the spell of being dominant over the daughter is broken, and Rumpelstiltskin splits into two parts.
This is an interesting ending because it says to me that the Masculine has lost some power, but true equality has not been reached. I think for that to happen the creative power of Rumpelstiltskin has to be integrated into the Feminine.
I choose to interpret this story in a symbolic manner, like a dream or poetry. This does not mean other ways of seeing a fairy tale are invalid. It’s just my way of seeing fairy tales.