We grew up reading these stories. They were part of our childhood and a lesson to all. They taught lessons of morality, be it Cinderella through her modesty, Snow white with her bravery, or Hansel and Gretel, whose adventures taught us the consequences of being greedy.
The original versions, however, had mutilation, bloodshed, cannibalism, and other horrific things included in their storylines. Over the years, various editions that followed were either censored or edited to make them suitable for children. The bloodshed and the violence present in the original stories were minimized or largely removed.
This article will bring to you the tales as originally written and published, including the often gruesome details.
This is by far the most read, and the most popular of all the fairy tales. One of the better-known versions is by Charles Perrault who wrote this story, as narrated to him by storytellers. He added certain elements like the pumpkin, glass slippers, and the animal servants. In the Brothers Grimm’s version Aschenputtel’s, or Cinderella’s father, is alive and a silent witness to the mistreatment of his child. He even conducts the ball thrice at his palace. Cinderella isn’t that miserable in the original story; she knows magic and successfully attends the ball, wearing a grander gown and a different pair of slippers like gold and silk each time. The extent of the stepsisters’ and their mother’s cruelty remains the same. The mother instructs the sisters to “Cut a piece off your heel; when you are a queen you will never have to go on foot.” In this version, the fairy godmother is replaced by a magical hazel tree and a pair of wish granting white birds. They inform the Prince about the bloody slippers and even pluck out the sisters eyes, completely blinding them in the process.
- THE LITTLE MERMAID
A tale of love and its ability to overcome any obstacle, it is a story of a mermaid Ariel who turns into a human to marry a handsome prince Eric. This is the version that most of you have grown up hearing.Written by a Danish author, this one is a story about selflessness. The mermaid agrees to turn into a human and endure the sufferings, thus living a much shorter life and tolerating every step, equivalent to “treading upon knife blades”, even risking turning to foam if the Prince rejects her. She gives up her family, her whole identity, only for love. The Prince, however, marries someone else, breaking the mermaid’s heart. To turn back into a mermaid she must kill the Prince, “when his warm blood bathes her feet they will grow together and become a fish tail.” However, she chooses not to do so. A story about selfless love with a depressing ending indeed.
- GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS
In the original version written by Eleanor Mure, there is no such character as Goldilocks. Instead, it features an Old woman who, out of curiosity and on discovering that nobody is home, enters the bear’s house and drinks their milk (not porridge), sits in their chair, and sleeps in their bed. Upon being discovered by the bears, they try to kill her by setting her on fire, and subsequently drowning her. On failing in both, they impale her on the steeple of St. Paul’s church.
Over the years, a lot has been changed; the story’s protagonist, the name of the bears and, of course, the ending. Instead of being killed, Goldilocks runs away, giving the story a happy ending.
- SLEEPING BEAUTY
Originally titled “Sun, Moon, and Talia”, it was written by Basile of Naples. The beauty’s name was Talia who goes into a comatose state not due to a curse, but a prophesy. The kiss of a prince isn’t what wakes her up, rather it is the sucking of the splinter from her finger by her child. She is raped while in an unconscious state and gives birth to two kids(Sun and Moon).
The gruesome part isn’t over yet, though. Later the king returns to confess everything to Talia and they somehow bond. The king’s wife discovers the king’s acts. She tricks Talia into sending her children over to the palace and orders the cook to kill and cook the children, and feed them to the King. Don’t worry, he doesn’t eat them. The cook instead grows a heart and hides the children, cooking the lamb instead. The story ends with the queen being burned alive, and the King and Talia live with their kids happily ever after. At least this one has a happy ending, however twisted.
- LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD
The origins of this tale remain a mystery. The most widely know and read version is by Charles Perrault. This, unlike its altered Brothers Grimm version, has a not-so-happy ending. The wolf after eating the girl’s grandmother cuts her up and stores her meat and her blood in the fridge. Later he feeds the very same meat to the girl, all the while pretending to be her grandmother. He convinces her to strip naked and climb into bed with him, where he eats her up. The story has no savior, what Charles wanted to convey was, “From this story one learns that children, especially young lasses, do very wrong to listen to strangers. Alas! Who does not know that these wolves are of all such creatures the most dangerous!” The version was retold by the Grimm brothers who altered the ending. The wolf in the original version was an allegory for men as well as pedophiles.
Many of the above-mentioned stories were not originally written for children. Many changes were made as to not offend any religious group. Last year, the very first edition of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm was translated in English by Jack Zipes. He believes that the original stories have “stunning narratives precisely because they are so blunt and unpretentious”. Nothing can beat the original.