The Issue With Rumpelstiltskin

quill and qwerty


I have a heck of a time typing “Rumpelstiltskin” – the “ltsk” combo in the middle is really hard to get, as no other word I can think of has that sound sequence in English. For some reason, the German “Rumpelstilzchen” flows much easier from the fingers.

However, that’s not the main issue with this fairy tale. The real problem, I decided on re-reading it yesterday, is that the beautiful miller’s daughter (that’s the beautiful daughter of the miller, not the daughter of the beautiful miller – there’s English grammatical ambiguity for you) is screwed coming and going.

I used to like “Rumpelstilzchen” when I was a child. It has an ending that I always found quite satisfying: The nasty manipulative gnome is found out, and in his fury at being thwarted he tears himself in half. Happily Ever After, The End. It never occurred to me that…

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Author: quillandqwerty

writer, editor, maker of things

One thought on “The Issue With Rumpelstiltskin”

  1. Yes! It’s so difficult for our modern mindset to imagine “being a queen” as reward enough for putting up with a man who was threatening you with death if you didn’t meet his unreasonable demand (I mean, the miller made the boast; if anyone was to be threatened with death it ought to have been him), and who only married you because you made him wealthy. Because, for us, a non-ruling queen is just as powerless and at the mercy of the greedy king as the simple miller’s daughter. But you’re also right that the child skips over the practical aspect of it and gets to the heart of the story–that the miller’s daughter becomes a queen AND outwits the evil dwarf. (well, she doesn’t outwit him, the messenger does, but she sent the messenger, so technically I guess she wins) I still would like to see her get the best of the king as well, though!


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