I bet you think you know this story. You don’t. The real one’s much more gory. The sex and violence was toned down when the Brothers Grimm made a children’s edit, but the original stories can still shock today.
Rapunzel gets pregnant after a ‘merry time’ with the Prince, complaining to her mother that her clothes are getting too tight and she doesn’t know why. Hans Dumm also impregnates a Princess and as soon as The Frog King turns into a handsome Prince the Princess whisks him off to her bed! Little Red Riding Hood was originally intended as a warning story but Freud interpreted it as showing Red Riding Hood losing her virginity – at the time the story was written it was said that a girl who had sex had: “seen the Wolf”.
#2 Mutilation & Cannibalism
Things get a lot darker in The Juniper Tree where a woman cooks her stepson and serves it up to his father. In Snow White the huntsman is told deliver her lungs and liver to the Queen. But it gets worse. The Girl Without Hands had her hands chopped off by her own father and in the Robber Bridegroom a gang of bandits hunt and kill women for fun. In Hansel & Gretel the witch has Hansel in a cage and is fattening him up to eat. Most gory of all is a scene in the original Cinderella where the ugly stepsisters slice off their toes to force their feet into the glass slipper. They only get rumbled when the Prince sees blood pouring from the shoe.
#3 Murder & Suicide
Removed from the children’s edit for reasons that will soon become obvious, the original book had a tale called: Children Played at Slaughtering. In this jolly game, one child plays a pig and the other a butcher. The butcher slits the pig’s throat while another child catches his blood in a bowl. The happy ending here? The mother stabs her son in the heart. Things are just as brutal in the tale of Rumpelstiltskin where he gets so angry that he rips himself to pieces.
Perhaps most troubling of all is All-Kinds-of-Fur where a man promises his dying wife that he will only remarry if his new bride is as beautiful as her. Unfortunately, the only female who fits the bill is his daughter – so she has to make a sharp exit and hide in the wilderness to escape his amorous clutches.
#5 Truly Grim ‘Happy Endings’
Even the ‘happy endings’ are bloody: Cinderella’s ugly sisters have their eyes pecked out by birds and end up living as blind and lame beggars. Hansel & Gretel escape when Gretel pushes the witch into her own oven, yet when they get home their parents try to get rid of them again. The happy ending to the original Snow White is particularly nasty – the evil Queen is forced to dance in a pair of iron shoes which have been heated on burning coals until she eventually collapses and dies.
And they all lived happily ever after.