5 Creepy Facts About Your Fave Fairy Tales That Will Ruin Your Childhood

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In Grimm's fairytales, the evil Queen was way more terrifying.

If there are three words my mother never wants to hear in her life again, it would be The Little Mermaid.

Apparently, I was once an obsessive nutter and played the tale on TV twenty fives times in a day. Everyday.

Now, I feel sorry for my mother but at least she knew I was going to grow up passionate.

That said, you would think I’d know every inch of that fairytale like the back of my hand.

I did too. Except I grew up and learned fairytales aren’t all that they seem.

And it turns out, The Little Mermaid was quite the nasty tale.

5 creepy original fairy tales you may want to do a double take on

1. Snow White really was poisoned to death (RIP)

Snow White’s real story is as gruesome as it gets. First written by The brothers Grimm in 1812, her story was actually based off a real person named Margarete von Waldeck. Disney may have left out some details like Margerete’s brother hiring small children to work in his copper mine. With such extreme labour conditions, the children usually developed deformities, eventually leading people to call them dwarves. 

Opposing her romance with the Spanish prince Philip II, the King of Spain arranged for Margarete’s assassination pronto. There was no apple involved, but she definitely had a permanent ending there.

Oh and aside from this, in Grimm’s fairytale itself, the evil Queen was way more terrifying. Simply because she was no step-mother, but Snow White’s real mom. One of a kind too, since she really fancied eating Snow White’s liver and lungs for dinner. But it’s cool though, evil mom queen eventually dies a horrid death: she ends up being forced into burning iron shoes and dances to her death in them. Peachy.

Creepy original fairytales

The dwarfs warn Snow White, Illustration from Sneewittchen, Scholz,Franz Jüttner

2. The Little Mermaid: The seaweed isn’t always greener on the other side

So what do we know about Disney’s version? Ariel’s a mermaid that falls in love with some prince. She just wants some bloody legs so she can run on the beach or something(other things?) with him. To do this, she approaches a real nasty octopus witch named Ursula who steals Ariel’s voice in return for sprouting the mermaid two healthy legs. Things end very well with some notes of drama in between. The unredacted version, however, sees Ariel quite dead and turned into sea foam. She wasn’t able to fulfill her vow to the sea witch of actually killing the prince. I know, I’ve much improved on summarising skills as a grown-up. If only I could get over PTSD from Little Mermaid’s real deal.

 

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Hans Christian Anderson, had a whole other play in mind for dear Ariel. Who should actually have been named Edvard Collin. See Christian wrote the The Little Mermaid story as a love letter to his unattainable male crush at the time. He wrote the letter in 1936 having heard Edvard was engaged to another woman. Sadly, he was never able to act on his desire. Somewhat reminiscent To the Little Mermaid’s plight no? Except I imagine “her” much better now as male with fin attached.

3. Cinderella lost more than her shoe

Few storytellers could equate with the talent of France’s Charles Perrault. The tale of Cinderella is easily found in every child’s favourite memories growing up. If only they knew the hidden messages Mr Perrault craftily hid in it. We could leave those innocent memories alone, but there’s no fun living a lie. The Grimm brothers also took the liberty to rewrite Cinderella after.

Perrault’s Cinderella is loosely related to the life of a once Greek woman named Rhodopis. In short, she was sold as a slave and forced to sexually satisfy her master, Pharoah Ahmose II, at all times. Yeah, douches existed in all eras apparently. His fairytale though, does grant her a happy ending married off to royalty. With the Grimms, they preferred to have Cinderella’s  limbs chopped off by her step-sisters. Sheesh.

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4. Hansel and Gretel were a deadly pair

Even as a child Hansel and Gretel’s story always gave me chills. It’s hard for a foodie to come to terms with a magic house made of food that turns against you. Just awful. For The Grimm brothers, awful was never enough. Their version involves a lot more blood and slitting of throats by the children themselves–to a woman that helps them in the story. 

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It’s been debated upon that Hansel and Gretel’s tale was reflective of the great famine afflicting most of continental Europe in the 14th century. Parents would desert their kids and slaughter their cattle to seek refuge from the suffering. But let’s just all instead remember the moral of the story : don’t wander off and get lost in the woods. At whatever age.

5. Rapunzel could have used some sex ed

In the original version of Rapunzel’s tale by the Grimm brothers, the lady is quite the seductress. She only has to let down her hair, many times a week and before she knows it, winds up very pregnant. Sadly, the witch who put her up there in the first place is in no way amused. The father aka prince, winds up with broken bones and pierced eyes for daring to love another. As for Rapunzel, her punishment is severe: the witch banishes her to a life of desperate poverty. But fret not, there’s a happy ending here somewhere. The Grimm brothers sure did have a wicked sense of humour.

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Rapunzel’s historical origins may actually give you goosebumps. The tale stems from an old Christian tale. A pagan merchant has his daughter locked up in a tower to keep her from her suitor. She then converts to Christianity which sees her beheaded by her father for heresy. Seen after as a martyr, Saint Barbara is revered by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Isn’t growing up just the most amazing thing? How’s all of that for thinkpiece fodder.

If only our parents knew what they were really reading us at bedtime. Now, we just have to rest easy knowing our best stories were in fact creepy original fairy tales.

 

Lead image credits: Hilary Mckay’s Fairy Tales, Illustrations by Sarah Gibb

Written by

Sabrena Jefri