Isabel Kriegel
April 11, 2000


Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen


The Princess and the Pea, Hans Christian Andersen (Namjoshi's The Princess, p. 5):


There once was a prince in search of a princess. He looked high and low for a real princess, but could not seem to find one. There were princesses around, but there was always something wrong with them. Finally the prince returned home believing there was no real princess for him to marry.

One night there was a terrible storm. A knock at the castle door woke the royal family and the king went to open the door there was a girl, socked from head to toe. And she declared that she was a real princess.

The queen, disbelieving, set up the princess' bedroom with a pea underneath twenty mattresses and twenty comforters. In the morning, the princess was asked how she slept. She replied that it was a miserable night's sleep, something hard had been under the bed and she was black and blue and bruised all over. It was this that made the prince realize that she was indeed a real princess&emdash;no one who wasn't a princess would have felt the pea. So the prince took her to be his wife, for he knew that she was a real princess.


The Emperor's New Clothes, Hans Christian Andersen (Namjoshi's The Lesson, p. 8):

There once was an emperor who cared so greatly for clothes that he paid no attention to anything else around him: not to the soldiers, the city, his family, nothing. One day, two cheats arrived in the emperor's city, claiming that they were weavers who could make the finest clothes imaginable. The colors, the patterns, the fabrics, they were all beautiful, but in addition, these weavers said, the clothes became invisible to anyone who was not fit for the office he held or who was stupid.

The emperor believed these clothes would be the perfect way to find out who was not fit for the positions in his empire, as well as determine the incredibly stupid among them. Immediately the emperor enlisted the cheats to weave him a suit. The cheats set up two large looms, and after the emperor gave them great sums of money, they began to weave imaginary fabric into imaginary clothes.

The emperor, very excited about his new clothes, sent some of his subjects to check the progress of the clothes. One by one, these men inspected the looms, and although the cheats described the patterns and colors on the fabrics, the men saw nothing. Frightened of being seen as incredibly stupid or unfit for their positions, each man reported back to the emperor exactly what they had been told by the cheats.

Finally the day arrived when the emperor was to wear his new clothes in a procession through the city. As the cheats dressed him in front of the mirror, the emperor saw nothing. Fearing that he may not be suited to be the emperor, he raved about the patterns and the colors and the lightweight feel of the suit. All of his subjects, afraid of being discovered, lied along with the emperor and held up handfuls of nothing as the emperor processed through the city.

As the people saw the emperor, parading through the city in his new clothes, they remarked on the beauty and the elaboration of the detail of the fabric, each one afraid the others would find him or her to be stupid. Only one child cried out:

"But he has nothing on!"

And as the emperor heard him and felt the breeze through his new suit he felt as if that were true. Yet he told himself that he must continue on. And so the emperor walked prouder than ever and the subjects held on tighter than ever, and the people watched the emperor wear nothing at all.


Rapunzel, Brothers Grimm (Namjoshi's Rescued p. 87 and The Christening, p. 122):


Once upon a time there was man and a woman who wished for a child. At long last the woman believed that God was to grant their wish. Next door to the couple lived a powerful enchantress, feared by all the world. This enchantress surrounded herself by very high walls within which she cultivated a beautiful garden. The woman, seeing a bed of rampion (rapunzel) in full bloom in the enchantress' garden, could think of having no other food. So, in order to satisfy his wife, the man sneaked over the wall and into the garden to steal the rampion for her. But the more rampion she had, the more rampion the woman craved and her husband repeatedly climbed over the walls and stole from the enchantress. One day, however, the enchantress caught the man climbing over the walls to steal her rampion. Once the man had explained that his wife craved the beautiful rampion, the enchantress cut him a deal: the man could continue to take all the rampion to his wife on the condition that the enchantress would take their child and raise it as her own. In his fear, the man agreed and when his wife gave birth, the enchantress appeared and took the child, whom she named Rapunzel, away.

Rapunzel grew up to be the most beautiful girl, and when she turned twelve the enchantress locked her in a tower deep in the forest which had neither stairs nor doors, simply a little window at the top. If the enchantress wanted to go inside, she called to the window:

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

Let down your golden hair!"

And Rapunzel would drop her long hair, spun like gold, down to the enchantress who would climb to the window and enter the tower.

Two years passed and Rapunzel remained isolated in the tower. One day the king's son chanced to be walking through the forest and heard the beautiful voice of Rapunzel. He wanted to climb up to her, but found no stairs and no door. He was so moved by her singing that he went to the tower each day to listen. Once he saw the enchantress, and hidden, watched her call to Rapunzel:

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

Let down your golden hair!"

The very next day the prince returned to the tower and called up to the window:

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

Let down your golden hair!"

When the prince arrived at the window Rapunzel was surprised to find not the enchantress, but a most handsome young man. The prince declared his love for Rapunzel and the arranged to run away together and marry. The prince visited Rapunzel often without the enchantress noticing until one day when Rapunzel mentioned the prince. In her anger, the enchantress chopped off the long, golden hair and sent Rapunzel away alone into the depths of the forest. The next night when the prince returned to the tower he called:

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

Let down your golden hair!"

The enchantress let down Rapunzel's hair and the prince climbed the tower. Once inside, the enchantress told him Rapunzel's fate and threw the prince from the tower. Thorns broke his fall and pierced his eyes and he wandered blindly around the forest in search of his beloved. After many years, he recognized her beautiful voice, and approached the sound. At once Rapunzel recognized the prince, embraced him and wept with joy. Her tears wet his blind eyes and they cleared, and the prince took Rapunzel to his kingdom where they were joyfully received and lived happily ever after.



Click here for a biography and translations of the works of Hans Christian Andersen

Click here for more information about and translation of the works of the Brothers Grimm


Andersen, Hans Christian. Fairy Tales and Other Stories. London: Oxford University Press, 1914.

The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales. New York: Pantheon Books, 1972.