The Three Little Men in the Woods
"The Three Little Men in the Woods" was written by the Brothers Grimm. While when it was written is unknown, they story was collected in 1812.
A man with a daughter marries a woman with a daughter. The stepmother promises the man’s daughter wine and milk but quickly deceives her. The stepmother actually hates her stepdaughter for being beautiful while her own daughter is not. So she sends the girl, in only a paper dress, out to pick strawberries in the middle of winter. While the girl is searching, she comes across a little house with three little men. They invite her into their house, and the girl shares the small bit of food she has with them. Then, she goes outside and finds big, ripe strawberries growing beneath the snow. As she is picking strawberries, the three little men give her three blessings: that she’ll grow more beautiful every day, that every time she speaks a gold piece will fall out of her mouth, and that she will marry a king. When the girl gets home with her new gifts and strawberries, the stepdaughter is crazed with jealousy. She insists for her mother to allow her to go find some strawberries, too. The stepmother finally consents and sends her daughter off with a fur coat and hearty food. The stepdaughter finds the house and the three little men and barges into their home. Then she sits by the fire and refuses to give the men any of her food. When the girl leaves to find strawberries, the three men give her three curses: that she will get uglier every day, that every time she speaks a toad will fall out of her mouth, and that she will die an uncomfortable death. The stepmother, now completely livid, makes the girl rinse yarn in the frozen river. On the way to the river, the girl meets a prince who asks for her hand in marriage. She accepts and one year later a baby boy is born. The stepmother and her daughter then sneak into the palace and throw the queen into a river. She drowns instantly. The stepdaughter poses as the queen. That night the kitchen boy sees a white duck that tells him to find the king and bring him to her. The boy does as he is told and the king cuts off the duck’s head and brings the queen back to life. Then they go and confront the stepdaughter and her mother and convict them of their crimes. The stepmother and stepdaughter are put into a barrel studded with nails and are rolled into the river. Then the king, queen, and their son live happily ever after.
I. Special beginnings
Like many fairy tales, the story starts off with "there once was..."
11. Good character
The protagonist is the man's daughter. She is beautiful and sweet, and she is hated by her stepmother and sister for her beauty.
Iii. Evil character
The stepmother and her daughter are quite evil in the story. They despise the girl for being sweet and pretty. The stepdaughter is extremely jealous of her, and the stepmother starts doing everything in her power "to make her stepdaughter's life a misery" (Grimm 70). On multiple occasions they have attempted to murder the girl. The even succeeded once.
Iv.royalty and/or castle
While rinsing yarn for her stepmother, the girl is whisked away by a king. They get married, and she moves into his castle.
V. Magic use/something magical
The three little men each give the girl a magical gift while she is searching for strawberries. The stepmother wants to know how the girl picked strawberries in winter, and as the girl begins to tell her, "a gold piece [falls] out of her mouth" (Grimm 68).
After being killed the girl must reveal how her stepsister and mother betrayed her. With the help of the king, the girl convicts the pair, and they are executed on the spot.
Vii. Threes or sevens
There is one example of the number three in this story: while searching for strawberries, the girl comes across "three little men, each about as tall as her knee" sitting outside of a small house (Grimm 67).
Connection to Germany
First off, the story is written by the Brothers Grimm, a German pair of authors, and most of their stories take place in Germany. Second, woods and rivers are mentioned multiple times in the story. The Black Forest has many rivers in it, and the temperature can get cold there, too. Third, strawberries grow in Germany. Fourth, Germany has a long history of monarchs and royalty. And finally, there are many palaces in the Black Forest so the king could easily be from one of them.