Since I started writing Timeless Fairy Tales, I have longed for the day that I get to attack Rumpelstiltskin, because the original fairy tale is cray-cray and I have always wanted to smack the heroine.
The story goes like this. An idiotic miller tells his King (no clues how the two came to be chatting, we’re just told the miller does this) that his daughter has the ability to spin straw into gold. What. First of all, what could possibly inspire a person to tell such an obvious falsehood, and secondly, WHY would he tell the King this, because the King is obviously NUTS. King Crazy summons the poor girl, shuts her up in a room filled with straw, and tells her to spin it all into gold in one night, or he’ll have her killed the following morning. Stable this King is not.
Now either the miller’s daughter is smart and refrains from telling King Crazy that her father was lying because she knows it’s going to get her killed, or she has the same intelligence level as her father and went along with it because…I don’t know. So the girl sits in the room and cries. It is then that an imp-like creature–or a little man depending on the version–mysteriously enters this locked and guarded room, and offers to spin all the straw into gold in exchange for the girl’s necklace. She agrees, and the little guy does manual labor for her all night. In the morning the King sees the straw-turned-to-gold, and tells the girl she better do it again, sticking her in an even bigger room of straw, or he will kill her.
Again the little dude shows up when the miller’s daughter starts crying. This time he offers to spin all the straw into gold for her gold ring. (Where the miller’s daughter is getting all this bling is not explained.) Instead of asking how he got in and requesting that he would help her escape, the girl agrees, and the little dude saves her–without being thanked or named, might I add. Two things that I would think someone in the same position as the miller’s daughter would feel to be vitally important. But is King Crazy satisfied with two rooms full of gold? Nope. So he tosses her in a third room with the same threat, only this time he promises he’ll marry her if she does it again. (Because marrying the guy who commonly threatens to kill you would be such a treat.)
This time when the little imp-man shows up, the miller’s daughter has no more bling. So, naturally, the next thing the little man asks for is her firstborn daughter. Talk about a jump in price. Truthfully, I think this was his terrible attempt to hit on her. I mean come on, what VILLAIN would do manual labor for a chick for three nights? If he wanted a baby for some nefarious reason I’m sure he could have plucked one off the streets. But no, instead he chooses to trade enough gold to outfit a kingdom to get a chance at swiping the firstborn child of the miller’s daughter.
The miller’s daughter is too oblivious to notice she is being courted, or she has the same parenting instincts as her father, and agrees to the trade. The straw is spun into gold, and the next day King Crazy is satisfied with all the gold and marries the miller’s daughter. (Oddly she doesn’t fight him or run away.)
For an unexplained reason, King Crazy finally ceases with the death threats. Time passes, and the miller’s daughter–who is now the queen–gives birth. The little-imp-man shows up, asking for the queen to hand the child over–probably intending to save the poor thing from its homicidal father and twit of a mother. The queen begs the little man to reconsider the bargain, offering up all the wealth she has, aka all-the-wealth-imp-man-spun-for-King-Crazy. Imp-man refuses, but he softens up and tells her that if she can guess his name within three days, she can keep the baby. Guess she should have made it a bigger priority to send him a thank you, huh?
Apparently imp-man hangs around the palace (probably attempting to further hit on the queen) so he can tell the queen if she guesses incorrectly. The queen spends the first two days coming up with names, but sadly none of these names belong to imp-man. In the last few hours the queen wigs out because it appears that she’s going to lose her child. She sends out a messenger who stumbles upon imp-man, singing a song that his name is Rumpelstiltskin.
Let’s pause here for a moment. Imp-man was most assuredly at the palace, otherwise the queen wouldn’t know she was guessing incorrectly if he wasn’t there to tell her so. How did imp-man go from the palace, to being out in the wilds in the mountains, singing about his name? This is a guy who is sneaky enough to break into a locked, guarded room and spin straw into gold. Do you really think he couldn’t hide the truth of his name? I’m telling you, he’s totally sweet on the idiot of a queen.
Anyway, the messenger goes back and tells the queen what he heard. When imp-man/Rumpelstiltskin tells her the three days are up, the queen is feigns ignorance for a little while before declaring imp-man’s name to be Rumpelstiltskin.
At this point the versions differ on what happens. In the Grimm brother’s original 1812 story imp-man runs away and is never seen again. In a re-released version in 1857 he tears himself in half. In the oral version of the story that the Grimm brothers based their story off, imp-man flies way on a cooking ladle.
What I find most confusing about the story is this: the short little guy, who saves the miller’s daughter from
her father’s stupidity, herself, the King’s threat is the villain. The King who threatened to kill the miller’s daughter? He’s the hero, I guess, because he gets the girl. Or we could say the miller’s daughter/the queen was the hero…but she lies to King Crazy, delegates her work to imp-man, and then essentially stiffs him. Some hero.
Don’t let my abundant sarcasm fool you, I am a big fan of the fairy tale! I also believe it has hidden depths to it that I hope to shed some light on in my next post. Until then, Champions!