Hansel and Gretel

-Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm


            Hansel and Gretel are the children of a poor woodcutter. Fearing starvation, the woodcutter's wife (variably called the children's mother or stepmother) convinces him to lead the children into the forest and abandon them there. Hansel and Gretel hear her plan and gather white pebbles to leave themselves a trail home. After their return, their mother convinces the woodcutter to abandon them again due to food shortage; this time however, they can only leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Unfortunately, the various animals of the woods eat their trail of breadcrumbs, causing Hansel and Gretel to become lost.

            Lost in the forest, they find a house made of ginger bread and candies, with sugar windows. Unable to resist, they begin to eat it. The inhabitant of the house, an old woman, invites them in and prepares a feast for them. The table is covered with candy, nuts, pancakes and other sweets. The woman, however, is a witch who has built the house to attract children to her, so that she may fatten and eat them. She locks Hansel in a cage and makes Gretel her servant. While she prepares to cook Hansel, she orders Gretel to fetch her candies and fats to feed Hansel. Unable to do anything, Gretel weeps bitterly and does as she is told. In the cage, Hansel finds a thin bone from his meals. When the witch tells Hansel to stick out his finger (so she can tell if he is fat enough to eat), he deceives her by sticking out the bone instead. The woman has poor eyesight and is very old, and she cannot see that Hansel's "finger" is actually a bone. Days pass by, but the witch can't perceive how fat Hansel is getting. She gets frustrated and decides to eat him anyway, "be he fat or lean." She tells Gretel to climb into an oven to be sure it is ready to bake, but Gretel guesses that the witch intends to bake her, and tricks the witch into climbing into the oven, closing it behind her.

            Taking jewels from the witch's house, the children set out for home to be reunited with their father. After reuniting with their father and finding out that their stepmother has died, they all live happily ever after.

  1. How could Hansel and Gretel escape from the hand of the wicked witch in the story “Hansel and Gretel”? What did they bring in their house? Or
  2. How did Hansel and Gretel free themselves form the witch? (2060)

Because of the poverty an old man left his children in the jungle. He was forced to leave his children by his wife though he was unwilling to do so. When the old man left his children in the jungle they wept and cried a lot. They tried to walk home but they couldn’t reach the edge of the jungle instead they lost themselves in the dense groove of the forest. They were hungry and exhausted. They slept soon and when they got up in the next morning they saw a beautiful bird. The bird led them to a beautiful house.

The house was made of chocolates and sweets. The windows were made of sugar. They were happy to see the dream world in front of them. But to their great surprise, an old woman came from the house. She was the wicked witch of that jungle. Her eyes were red like burning coal and her hand thin with long nails on her fingers. She prepared good food for Hansel and Gretel and gave them good bed to sleep.

The witch wanted to eat them so she kept Hansel in a iron cell and gave him good food to make him fat. After many days she found that the boy didn’t grow fat so she decided to eat both the kids. Gretel knew the secret plan of the wicked witch. Gretel trapped her inside the oven when she was being trained by the witch. The witch died crying the great pain inside the big woven.

Gretel freed Hansel from the cage and they became happy finding the safe and healthy. They went inside the gingerbread house and found some old boxes. They opened them and found then full of pearls, diamonds, and gold. They collected the treasure as much as they could. Hansel stuffed his pockets and Gretel filled her apron with that wealth. They became very happy and remembered their parents.

They came home walking all day and a night.  A white duck helped them to cross the brook. When they arrived in their home their father became happy. He found what they had brought with them.

  1. Why was the father not quite willing to accept his wife’s proposal to leave the children in the forest?

He was the original father of the children though the mother was their step-mother. The mother hated the her step-children and always wanted to leave them in the jungle. It may not be her sole wish because she was also compelled by the greatest famine in that area. So, she had to leave them to keep herself alive.

So, the wife proposed her husband to leave the children in the forest but the father was quite unwilling to leave. He was sure that they would die in the jungle if he left them. So, because of his love he was quite unwilling to leave the children in the forest.

  1. How did the witch receive the two children in their first night at the witch’s house? (2059)

In the first night of the children’s visit the witch received them well. She welcome them cordially from the core of her heart. She gave them the best food they ever imagined to have. She poured her whole heart to serve them as if she was their grandmother. She made them feel at home. They ate up to the brim that night because they were ever so hungry. The hidden intention of the old witch was to prepare them her own meal after somoe days. So, not to make them suspicious about all these things she welcomed in such a way on the first night.

  1. What do the bird and the expense of water symbolize in the fairy tale “ Hansel and Gretel”? (2057)

Definitely the bird has a symbolic meaning here in this story. The bird here symbolize a bridge which leads them to the house of the witch. It also plays a role of connector between a situation to the other. The bird also helps them to cross the river and provides them the freedom. Ultimately, bird has become a symbol of passage from one situation to the other.

The expense of water symbolizes the unexpected dangers of life which are inevitable. It also signifies hindrance and problems in the story. The charaters have to face such situation to get their destination. They also symbolize the test of the endurance of the characters during the difficult times.

  1. Briefly narrate the story of Hansel and Gretel. (2066)
  2. Narrate the story of Hansel and Gretel. (2066)

See the summary in the beginning of this lesson.

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