The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales question

are old Fairy Tales really too violent?
Roxanne Roxanne Jun 19, 2011 05:27PM
I have loved Grimms Fairy Tales since I was very young. The wicked witches are so scary, but always lose. The lost children stick together and find their way home. The good adults help the children...AND the bad adults and children learn their lessons.
I've never understood why some think they are too gorey and frightening.

What say you?

Not violent enough.

Honestly, I hate what Disney has done to fairy tales. I stopped watching Disney fairy tales when I saw how they minimized the Little Mermaid's sacrifice for love. That just wasn't right!

They are basically cautionary tales. Even though I read as many as I could, I still made many stupid errors, when it came to love.

As a child, I read all the fairy tales I could get my hands on (which wasn't very many). Now, I have as even foot high book shelf of them. I've collected a lot of the colored fairy tale books (though I haven't read them all) and have books from many countries' versions.

They aren't any more violent than the evening news, video games, some book series, movies and alot of TV shows.

I was introduced to the original versions of the "fairy" tales when I was an adolescent. I'm unscarred. No, I wouldn't say they were too scary. Carry their tradition forward.

Let me ask you this. Too violent for what?

I don't think that the old Grimm stories are to violent, I just think that parents nowadays are softening everything for their kiddies, so the tiniest things would seem huge. Look at Disney channel compared to the Grimm stories. It's ludicrous.

Michelle (last edited May 27, 2013 08:18PM ) May 27, 2013 08:17PM   0 votes
when i was a teenager, so many years ago, travelling home from a day out on a crowded bus i took one of the few empty seats next to an elderly lady. when i took out grimms tales to read she started to chuckle to herself.. we got talking. she was in her 90's and had grown up in germany. she told me how she had grown up being told fairy tales of a sort, a lot darker than today's children's stories and a story telling session would always end with a dark one, a cautionary tale to keep children a little fearful, it helped keep then safe in a very wild world. when she became a teenager she was apprenticed to a storyteller. i can't remember the name she said they were called, she was an old lady who travelled the villages telling ancient tales to children and adults and collecting new stories. she would help take care of the old lady and in return she was taught the tales over and over until she could recite them word for word.

i remember telling her that i enjoyed writing short stories and i had my jotter in my bag (i always did have something to write on with me) so she asked me if i would tell her a story to pass the time. i was embarrassed but how could i turn her down! it was something about some imaginary friends that were all mice! lol! my mother listened and mocked me for days! she told me she held weekly story days at her home, she would tell a tale and the children would all be expected to have written their own tale during the week and take their turn telling. she'd never criticise but would offer gentle pointers and encouragement. i was lucky enough to be invited to join in and it was so wonderful. my world wasn't a very nice place at the time and this was the only escape i was allowed as long as my chores were done. she had something to do with the rudolph steiner school in the uk before her retirement. she had hoped to see me attend the rudolph steiner school, offering to be my sponsor but things did not go to plan. at 16 i found myself having to flee my own home and we lost touch but i never forgot her kindness and her wonderful abilities as a storyteller and how real she could make them feel.

btw i have sore hands so i write all in small.

I used these tales to introduce my kids to the horrors of the world in as gentle a way as possible. In other words, the events in these stories weren't as 'real' and therefore 'immediate' as, say, the evening news. I wanted them to know about death rather thasn be shocked by its existence when they were older kids. I wanted to talk about foolish behavior, evil manipulators, and how things don't work out the way we plan. It worked very well in our family.

Kids LOVE violence. I remember when I was in kindergarten, our kindergarten was named after a WW2 heroine, who was captured, tortured and killed by the nazis. So, when I was about 5, they read a detailed description of the torture to us. I still remember some details.

And look how well I turned out! :-))))

The Grimm tales are absolutely terrifying...and I love them!
Some of them should NOT be read to young children though, and one in particular - for me - is very disturbing - Allerleirauh.
It's about a king who desires to marry his own daughter, as she looks exactly like the dearly departed queen/mother. WTF?

Somerandom Oh so that's the tale the murder victim in Fables is based off? Thank you! I figured it was some obscure tale, but didn't know the name of it.
Jan 24, 2015 05:51PM

I think they are wonderful. They have so much more meaning then the trash kids read these days. Parents read these and still read these tales to there kids at bed time. they are timeless! and kids learn good morals from these tales as well. I'm a fan of Grimm fairy Tales!

I read lots of the old fairy tales as I grew up. My favorite book was a very old one called Laboulayes Fairy Tales. I still have it, but it's falling apart.
The illustrations are wonderful, and were done by Van d' Argente.
My younger sister was terrified by The Princess And The Goblin, and my older sister by Hansel and Gretel. I just wondered why only the Christian girl could wash the spot out of a white shirt. I still wonder.

As much as I love fairy tales I can never get over the gore.

deleted member (last edited Nov 29, 2012 05:32PM ) Nov 29, 2012 04:56PM   0 votes
Grimm's tales are can be quite gory. I think the basic idea of good vs. evil is commendable, yet, sometimes, the lines between those are blurred. And some stories are rather pointless.

But, they are an interesting part of the past, it's what people used to entertain themselves before television and movies. Actually, compared to modern media, the violence described in them is rather mild.

Many children's writers today tend to underestimate children and coddle them. They can handle a lot more violence than adults give them credit for.

I think some stories are very shocking actually, it's no wonder children grew to fear the dark and old ladies etc after hearing such tales! Also, you think stories are bad? Let me tell you, it's not comforting either to hear that the sweet children's song "ring a roses" was actually based on children who died during the plague and other nursery rhymes also have such a morbid history! You should read "A history of nursery rhymes" it's free on Kindle, but I read my copy from the library 7yrs ago!

By todays standards yes, I can understand why people could see the Grimm Fairtales as being really violent. But I personally see them as a way to teach children life lessons in safety and being cauious.

Roxanne wrote: "I have loved Grimms Fairy Tales since I was very young. The wicked witches are so scary, but always lose. The lost children stick together and find their way home. The good adults help the child..."

One comment I have heard is that they demonize wolves. Yet, a prudent parent will help a child understand that all wolves are not bad, just a all adults are not witches.
I don't think Grimm's Fairy Tales are too violent and certainly not as brutal as some of the tales by Hans Christian Anderson or Charles Dickens. More to say, how violent is Lewis Carroll's red queen running around and yelling "Off with their heads" or the Duchess who says,
"Speak roughly to your little boy
and beat him when he sneezes
he only does it to annoy
because he knows it teases."

I think a child would find that much more disturbing.

As horrible a creature as the wicked witch of the west is in the Wizard of Oz, children still love the movie. Mine begged to watch it even as teen-agers and it didn't seem to affect their mental health.

What is surprising about the book shown here is that the book's author is listed as Jacob and brother Wilhelm is not mentioned.

I've read that Anderson wrote for the adult audience, and his stuff is not so much violent as disturbing... the little match girl chooses to freeze to death rather than take a serious beating from old dad, but we're supposed to be happy for her since she's with God now. yay. the Christmas tree that doesn't quite catch on that it's been chopped down and stuffed in a shed to dry out and die isolated from family and friends, but should be happy since the family looked at it for a few days first. The Grimm boys and Aesop at least put some relevant moral in an entertaining and bracing story line, even if you have to stretch a little to find it. Anderson let the swan come out on top, but you could tell it was going to be maladaptive the whole rest of it's life.

I grew up on Grimms' Fairy Tales. My mom read stories from that book every single night before we went to sleep. This was back in the 1940's. Kids now days do not even know what fairy tales are. The so called-violence in those stores never had any affect on me and my sibblings. We knew they were tales and not true stories. Kids now days do not seem to be able to tell the difference in real and fantasy. Why is this?

I feel that they are no worse than reading your kids Aesops fables, they just have a slightly darker moral. They rev creativity and imagination. I belive these stories are going out of style for the youth of today and that truly dissapoints me. I try to instill that fairytale feel into my boyfriends daughter threw the telling of those tales and creating new ones when we walk threw the park or take nature hikes. She seems to enjoy it and has not soaked in any bad habits or resentment towards me (her soon to be stepmother)for being her stepmother, like so many in those stories do.
i am now done with my rant :)

I love the Grimm stories, but I was surprised to find out (after years of Disney) that they are so much darker than I'd ever known. Cinderella and Rapunzel leap to mind (with foot carving, eye pecking, and eyes being gauged out and scratched.)

They're all beautifully written, but dark. Perfect for kids with a healthy imagination - better nightmare fodder than the crap that's on TV nowadays. You've got The Girl Without Hands (don't make deals with the devil), The Juniper Tree (excellently nasty - great evil stepmother tale), Allerleirauh (incest) - all are well written!

I think Grimm is fine for both adults and children - there are lessons to be learned and they are wonderful stories!

Roxanne wrote: "I have loved Grimms Fairy Tales since I was very young. The wicked witches are so scary, but always lose. The lost children stick together and find their way home. The good adults help the child..."
I personally do not think they are violent at all... I was read them when little and then I read them on my own too. I read them now to my granchildren..Everyone knows they are just that tales and that real life isn't like that...My kids grew up watching Tom and Jerry cartoons but they knew they couldn't go around hitting each other with clubs. I think some of the video games out there now are way worse.

Fairy tales have more truth than you think.

I love fairy tales but I do think some of them are a little dark for young kids. Personally, I don't think five year olds should hear stories about:

Women cutting apart their feet
Child favoritism
Parents sacrificing their children for random servants
A princess who wants her husband to kill himself when she dies
A man sitting underground waiting to die
Eyes getting stabbed out
Child abandonment
Cruel and unusual punishment

I think fairy tales are wonderful for older children. Disneyfied fairy tales are great for little kids. But I wouldn't recommend reading your kid The Three Snake Leaves before bed.

I think that, as a child, you don't think about the violence in any detail. It's like watching Tom and Jerry - Tom gets hit by the iron and his face becomes iron-shaped, but then he's chasing Jerry again and it's all okay. It's only when you get older that you realise just how much it would hurt to cut off your toes to squeeze them into small shoes.

Emily (last edited Jan 07, 2015 12:31PM ) Jan 07, 2015 12:27PM   0 votes
I think they were written to keep children from misbehaving and out of dangerous situations by using fictitious, violent characters and imagery to make them understand the consequences of certain actions.
And I think the way that Disney has skewed the stories so much that (almost) everyone lives "happily ever after" completely changes the reason that these stories were written!

In this day and age, I do not believe that they are as violent as they were once perceived. With all of the violence that we have in the media, movies and video games, these tales are not that violent at all...

Having studied them, I can say that I don't think they are. When they were told as folk tales, before the Grimm brothers collected them and sanitised them a little (but not to the extent Disney has), children and adults would sit together whilst the tales were told.

As stated, they reflected the reality that people lived. I hate the happily ever after endings. I quite enjoyed reading about the witch in Snow White dancing in red hot shoes until she died. But now? all those juicy bits are left out in some versions. Jack Zipes has the best translation that doesn't eradicate those juicy pieces. I knew the originals as a child and I'm unscarred.

And given what kids can access online these days? I'd say a few gory fairy tales are fine. And literature is always best read in its unexpurgated form anyway.

In real Grimm Reaper stories , witches dont always loose. In fact , children sometimes die and no it is not too violent and I enjoyed the lessons.

I grew up on these fairy tales,never had a nightmare, and actually learned a few things about right and wrong,good and evil.
What's more, they are tales that get richer with the re-telling.These are stories I will tell my grandchildren, and hopefully, they will read them as I did.

I enjoyed reading both Grimm and Andersen. I do recall some extremely violent and disturbing moments in Grimm's Fairy tales. The one that always comes to mind is The Robber Bridegroom in which a group of men get a girl drunk, take her into a house where she is then raped and chopped into pieces. Another that just sounded creepy was The Goose Girl in which a girl has daily conversations with a severed horse's head.

You could say there is certain violence in the stories, but in the end, they were told by people who meant mostly to scare their children off and make them be afraid of going into the forest alone because "wicked witches" lived there (for instance). Otherwise they are just stories of good and bad, in which the good wins in the end. I think it is not important how or why the stories were written or if there is violence in them or not. In the end it all comes down to how you interpret the story and how you explain it to your child.

I loved the grimm fairy tales because they always had a moral, real life doesn't always have happy endings like the disney films or all the singing aswell.

Emily Ann (last edited Feb 26, 2013 06:15AM ) Feb 26, 2013 06:15AM   0 votes
There good not too violent.

Depending on which author you are reading Hans Christian Anderson or the Brothers Grimm. I myself enjoy both and when my daughter was 3 months old (she is 16 now) I started to read them to her. These early stories led to the love reading books.

I think the old fashion fairy tales are really for a older audience- due to society, aka, Disney, there are considering children's stories but sometimes there way to weird!

In response to Joyce's point about "being trapped in a situation where one has to face the evil", I think that having to face the evil is part of the *point*. In real life, people end up in situations where they have no choice but to face the issue or person in question all the time - that's what the tales are talking about. Remember, originally these tales were told to people of all ages, not just children. It's only in the past couple hundred years that we've relegated them to the nursery. In doing so, perhaps we've lost part of what the original purpose was, since the issue of "if they're too scary" comes up so frequently.

It really depends on what edition you are reading. If you are reading the first edition the fairy tales are a lot more violent and dark. There is a lot of death, teenage pregnancy, incest and torture. But the Grimm brothers themselves - well actually only Wilhelm, Jacob was strongly against it - began to soften the fairy tales with each new edition. By the end of edition nine - the last edition while they where still alive - you were hardly able to recognize the original tales.

It's easy to see how someone can be shocked by the violence that's in the original tales since we have been so often seen these stories in a "cleansed" version (such as the Disney versions). We know these stoeies, we just don't know the original versions of these stories.

I considered some of them too violent and disturbing for bedtime with my kids. So I started making up alternative bits for the nasty bits. Then my daughter started asking for the same stories over and over, as kids do, and I had to make the same changes the same way every time, so I eventually wrote the altered text into the margins. I wish I knew where that book got to; it would be fun to show my grown up children how I "fixed" their stories!

I never really thought they were too violent or anything. I know back when they were written it was the norm to have children's stories be scary, there is one called Goblin Market, I forget the author right now, but it's about a girl who eats fruit from goblins and ends up dying because its all she craves and can't get more. But it was also a story of staying away from strangers if you look at it that way. When you consider half the stuff ids watch today I don't think the Grimm Brothers or Andersen are too violent or well grim.

Somerandom (last edited Nov 04, 2012 03:14AM ) Nov 04, 2012 03:14AM   0 votes
I don't think they are too violent. Kids love that stuff. Heck, most of my favorite childhood TV shows/books were freaking violent. Loved every minute of it.
I say, toughen them kids up. lol!

Not if you read it when you're older! Yes they are too violent but I think that is good, since it doesn't lose the realistic side of it.

Not half as much as the Bible, and still many children are put into obligation to read it in its original (read not 'for kids') form.

Carolina Morales I'd rather allow them to read its original version by the time they're 15 or above. It would also prevent the 'worshipping' you cleverly mentioned abo ...more
Jan 26, 2015 01:31AM

oh,the seawitch does take the little mermaid's voice in exchange for her legs...then she can get her legs back if she kills the prince...she chooses not to kill him, then floats into the great etherial oneness... LOVE the story... the choices we make, eh?

Fairy Tales were often written in the same way as all of Hamlets play--they became a way to express opinions without retribution--This simple form of rebellion has been seen as recently as the slave days when suffering Africans were forced into labor by the british; the women would weave their culture, history and stories as well as their hopes and dreams of freedom into blankets or quilts--Fairy Tales send messages that other sufferers can relate to

I think it's worth mentioning that the Grimm stories are sanitised versions of earlier fairy tales. Charles Perrault had (I believe) the first written fairy tales, and the ending to Red Riding Hood, for example, shows the difference. Both versions of the tale may be violent, but Perrault's doesn't even have a happy ending.

I've heard that the earlier fairy tales that were told, rather than written, were even worse. Some might even have had sexual elements. But then, they weren't originally children's stories.

But going back to your original question, I think the Grimm fairy tales are generally appropriate for children--perhaps depending on age. Some kids might be scared of some stories, but if that's the case then you can just avoid those particular ones.

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