Analysis of 3 Grimm Tales

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Summary: Analysis of 3 of the Grimm Tales for the class, Art of Storytelling (LS 5633) at Texas Woman’s University.
Originally written 29th January 2019
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The Valiant Little Tailor

1. Characters
The main character is a little tailor who likes jam. He is happy, hard working, and fastidious since he insisted on inspecting all the jam, but then only bought a little. He is small in stature and there is nothing special about him. His purpose is only to make clothes, when he surprises himself by killing the flies who eat his jam and bread. Upon his victory he becomes extraordinarily self-confident. His main character trait is self-preservation.

2. Intent (Motive)
After killing the troublesome flies, the tailor wants as many people as possible to know of his victory. He makes himself a girdle (waistcoat) and stitches the words, “7 in one stroke!” onto it. In this way, everyone he meets will know of his brave effort. His overarching motive is self-preservation. He not only wants to live, but he wants to live well and he will use the only tool he has, his mind, to get what he wants. As the story continues, his intent changes from self-preservation to marrying a princess and becoming a king in his own right.

3. Conflicts and Problems
The tailor meets a giant who wants to kill him. The giant, believing that the “7 in one stroke!” are men, gives the little tailor tests to prove his strength. Since the little tailor is only a man, he must use his wits to beat the giant and succeed in not dying. It is the same with every problem he faces. Though the consequences of failure are always death, his traits of self-preservation and intelligence help him with each problem and stay alive. When the tailor is taken in by the king as a mighty warrior, his presence scares the soldiers, so the king presents more problems for the tailor to solve with the reward of the princess as his wife. The final conflict comes from the princess, who having learned that the tailor is only a tailor, wants him killed and arranges for his murder in the middle of the night.

4. Struggles (Plot)
The little tailor has a few struggles. First he has flies wanting his jam, so he kills them. Upon killing the flies, he gets a little full of himself and wants to show off to the town. After making a girdle that states his success, “7 in one blow,” he sets off. His next struggle is meeting a giant who wants to kill him. Luckily, the giant misinterprets the tailors girdle, and thinks that the little man must have killed 7 men. The tailor successfully navigates each of the giant’s challenges and stays alive, eventually scaring the giant and his friends away. Soon after the giants, the tailor is discovered by some soldiers who tell their king of the warrior who can kill “7 in one blow!” The king invites the tailor to be a warrior for him, but the tailors presents frightens the soldiers and so the king tries to get rid of him. The king offers a string of challenges to get rid of the tailor, the reward being the princesses hand in marriage and half the kingdom. Of course, the tailor successfully navigates all of the kings deadly challenges by using his brain and marries the princess, only for her to find out that he really is just a tailor. The princess tries to have the tailor killed, but he is too smart for that and scares off his wouldbe murderers and remains a king for the rest of his life.

5. Details
The details that make this story complete do not come from describing the main character, but rather other’s reactions to him. The tailor besides being small and unassuming does not have many describing features, but it is easy for the reader to imagine fearsome giants, brutal animals, and hardened soldiers. By focusing on the surroundings, the storyteller creates a bright world. The leaving out of character details better allows for the reader to understand from the character’s point of view, rather than as an outside viewer. The ending is satisfying as our unusual hero lands on top, using only his mind.

Frederick and Catherine

1. Character
Frederick and Catherine are a newlywed couple. Catherine is kind-hearted, but rather stupid. She puts an extraordinary effort into everything, but fails at every turn. Frederick is also kind-hearted, but he is much smarter than Catherine and tries to prevent her aloofness from affecting things too badly. He is generally a sport to all her errors.

2. Intent (Motive)
The main goal of the story is to get Catherine and Frederick’s money back from some peddlers who used Catherine’s ignorance to sell her things in exchange for all of the gold that she and Frederick had, which she thought were yellow buttons.

3. Conflicts and Problems
The overarching problem is Catherine’s stupidity. Her misdeeds are the cause of every issue from beginning to end.

4. Struggles (Plot)
Frederick must leave his new wife, Catherine, for the day to go work in the fields. Before he leaves he asks her if she would prepare dinner for him because he will be hungry once he is home. Catherine tries her best, but when she leaves the steak on the stove, the dog steals it. When she goes to run after the dog, she leave the ale pouring out of the barrel, draining it. To clean up the enormous mess, she dumps all of the meal they had on to the floor, but accidently soaks up the ale from the pitcher as well! Frederick is understanding, but thinks he had better bury their money, telling Catherine they are only yellow buttons, so she won’t lose all of that as well as their food. The next day he is out again and some peddlers come by. She tells them she only has yellow buttons and they happily take her money and leave her with a lot of good, none of which she needs. Frederick is upset by the peddlers, and seeks to get their money back. On the way Catherine loses more things, butter and cheese. Frederick sends her home to lock the door and get more food. She locks the back door and brings the front door with her, along with some nuts and vinegar. Fredrick is bemused by his wife’s thinking and insists she carry the door. They finally come upon the peddlers and from up in a tree they watch them. Catherine is feeling tired from carrying so much, so she drops the nuts and the peddlers think it’s hailing. She drops the vinegar and they think it’s dew. Finally the door is just too much and she throws it down scaring the peddlers who leave behind all the money.

5. Details
Since the characters are only given personality traits, not physical descriptions, these characters can look however the reader imagines. What really stuck out to me is Frederick’s personality. His good-natured bewilderment at his wife’s actions are so charming that I could fully imaging their whole courtship being the same. Even the setting wasn’t described. There was a hill, but that was only necessary for plot, so that the cheese could have something to roll down. So, for this tale it comes down to character interaction. How does Catherine react to her mistakes? She takes no blame, but keeps trying to think of solutions. How does Frederick react to his wife’s mistakes? He laughs and works to fix the errors. Nothing is so bad. Even in the case of all their money being gone, they are still happy and work hard together. Their relationship shines through and makes this story fun and engaging.

The Wedding of Mrs. Fox: First Story

1. Character
Mr. Fox is sly and distrustful, but he is good at playing dead.

2. Intent
The goal for Mr. Fox is to find if his wife, Mrs. Fox is unfaithful.

3. Conflicts and Problems
Once Mr. Fox is playing dead, many suitors come to court Mrs. Fox. The conflict lies in whether or not Mrs. Fox will return the favor of any of her suitors, or if she will remain faithful to her husband.

4. Struggles (Plot)
Mr. Fox does not believe his wife to be faithful, so he decides to test her love for him. He plays dead and Mrs. Fox sets to mourning. Soon suitors come knocking. Mrs. Fox remains locked in her room and Miss. Cat answers the door. Mrs. Fox cannot help but compare the new suitors to her deceased husband, and asks of each one if they have nine beautiful tales like Mr. Fox. All of the other suitors have fewer tales and so Mrs. Fox has Miss. Cat turn them away. Finally a young fox with nine tails arrives. When Miss. Cat tells Mrs. Fox about the young fox, Mrs. Fox has Miss. Cat throw out the body of her husband so that she can marry the young fox. When it is time for the wedding, Mr. Fox gets up and scares everyone away.

5. Details
The details in this story are pretty slim, but some of the dialogue is given in rhyme which would be fun with children. If the story is told often, children could learn the rhymes and say them with the storyteller, making for an interesting experience. The sparseness of details could actually be helpful with this story. It could be a fun game to tell the story and then have a conversations about why Mr. Fox is behaving this way. I think it could also be an engaging activity to fill in the missing details as the story is being told, working with the audience to build a new story with each telling.

Works Cited
Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. “Frederick and Catherine.” Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Project Gutenberg, 2001, pp. 104–108.
Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. “The Valiant Little Tailor.” Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Project Gutenberg, 2001, pp. 62–68.
Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. “The Wedding of Mrs. Fox: First Story.” Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Project Gutenberg, 2001, pp. 201–203.

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