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The Revolution of Brothers Grimm

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Little Red Riding Hood

Traveling in the Forest.

Traveling in the Forest.

Modernization of Brothers Grimm

Our modern media has turned back to stories of folklore with shows like Grimm, Once Upon a Time, and movies like Snow White and the Huntsman, Maleficent, and Into the Woods. Romanticism, which has been described as the literary response to revolution in the 1800s, gave rise to traditional folk stories. The most popular were probably those collected by two Germanic brothers, Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm.

The Brothers Grimm

A Painting of the Brothers Grimm

A Painting of the Brothers Grimm

Medieval Origins

The two brothers got a reputation for collecting these stories from peasants. However, many of these stories were actually from the middle class. Despite Walt Disney popularizing these tales into children's films, most of the stories were not intended for children. Scholars believe that these stories originated from the medieval period, coming from writers such as Straporato and Borraccio. These stories were modified and rewritten by the Brothers Grimm. In 1813, the Brothers Grimm published Children and Household Tales. Now, these stories of folklore are being modified and even rewritten in today's society.

A Collection of Fairy Tales

A book of the Brothers Grimm

A book of the Brothers Grimm

Cultural Resistance

One of the main goals of the Brothers Grimm, as theorized by scholar Maria Tator, was to have a "literary resistance" of the German people during a time of French occupation. A model of methodology for collecting and preserving folklore was established by the Brothers Grimm that was followed by writers throughout Europe during periods of time in which their country of origin was under occupation of a neighboring culture or country. The United States is not under foreign occupation. However, we have entered into war in the Middle East after terrorist attacks were made upon our country. The revival of folklore and the methodology that was established by the Brothers Grimm is still being used today by American society in an attempt to preserve our culture.

Quiz on the History of the Brothers Grimm

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What was Romanticism once described as?
    • a relationship between a man and a woman
    • the literary response to revolution
    • romance novels in general
  2. What were the full names of the Grimm brothers?
    • Yates Ludwig Grimm and Christoff Carl Grimm
    • Ludwig Earl Grimm and William Earl Grimm
    • Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm
  3. What was the country of origin of the Grimm brothers?
    • France
    • Germany
    • England
  4. The stories by the Brothers Grimm were originally intended for what age?
    • Adults
    • Children
    • Teenagers
  5. The main goal of the Brothers Grimm as theorized by Maria Tator was what?
    • to provide entertainment
    • to obtain fame and fortune
    • to provide literary resistance during occupation

Answer Key

  1. the literary response to revolution
  2. Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm
  3. Germany
  4. Adults
  5. to provide literary resistance during occupation

Grave Sites of the Brothers Grimm

They two brothers are still revered.

They two brothers are still revered.

A Modern Version of Snow White

Differences Among the Three Versions

There are many differences in the three versions of the story of Snow White as told through out centuries. In the version by Brothers Grimm, the mother of Snow White wishes for, "a child as white as snow, as red as blood, and as black as the wood of the window frame". In the modernized version, Snow White and the Huntsman, Snow White's mother wishes for, " a daughter as white as snow with lips as red as blood, hair as black as raven's wings, and a heart as strong and defiant as the rose". In the modernized version there was at least some emphasis on the content of her character and not just her physical appearance.

In the original Grimm version, Snow White appears to be really helpless when she keeps succumbing to the Wicked Queen. There are three different occasions where the Wicked Queen tries to kill Snow White. She succumbs to every one of them. In the Disney version, there is only one attempt at killing her. In the modern movie, Snow White is not so helpless at all. She only is tricked into eating the apple once and eventually is the one who kills the wicked Queen.

Also, in the Disney version, the dwarfs are the ones who go after the Queen when she falls to her death. In the original version, the Queen is killed by a group of people when she is forced to wear iron hot shoes and dance until she dies. In the modernized version, the Queen is killed by Snow White who leads an army into battle to conquer her.

In the original version by Brothers Grimm Snow White coughs up the apple that she ate and that breaks the spell. It was not until the Walt Disney version, that she is saved by true love's kiss. In the modernized version, "Snow White and the Huntsman" it is actually the Huntsman who kisses her and reverses the spell.

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The biggest difference between the modernized version, Snow White and the Huntsman, and the two prior versions is that, in the newest version, there is a huge war in which the kingdom is overtaken by an invading army. Snow White is no longer the helpless damsel in distress and even leads troops into battle to conquer the occupying Queen and her reign over the kingdom.

Snow White Fighting the Battle

Best Version


Differences Between the Three Versions

The main difference between Little Briar Rose by the brothers Grimm and Sleeping Beauty is that in the original story there were no evil fairies. There were thirteen wise women. It wasn't until the story was modified that the main fairy, "Maleficent" was created.

One of the main differences between Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent is that, in Sleeping Beauty, the main character is Princess Aurora and the hero in the story is Prince Phillip. That is, the story has both a main character and a hero but they are two different people. In the movie Maleficent, both the main character and the heroine are Maleficent.

One of the other differences is that in the movie Maleficent there is war between the Moors and the human civilization the same as we are experiencing war and clash of two civilizations today.

In both prior versions of the story Aurora appeared totally helpless. She was entirely at the mercy of the knight in shining armor. That is, she was dependent. In the more modern movie Maleficent, both Maleficent and Aurora portrayed more human like emotions, were more complex characters, and were neither one dependent on a man to come to save them from harm.

The Fight Between Good vs. Evil

The Best Version

Differences Among the Different Versions

In the version by Brothers Grimm, Red Riding Hood is a young girl who talks to a strange wolf and doesn't do as she is told. In the modern movie, the wolf is a werewolf and one of the village people and they do not know who it is.

Instead of being more of a cautionary tale, the modern version is a love story between Peter and Valerie who end up being together at the end of the movie. The two versions are very different yet come from the same story.

The wolf in the Grimm version is killed by Little Red Riding Hood when she fills its belly with stones and the Huntsman when he cuts it open. In the modernized version Valerie is responsible for killing the wolf by stabbing him.

In the modern movie, it is revealed at the end that the wolf is Valerie's father. In the original story, the wolf was not a relative of Little Red Riding Hood.

In the modern movie, Peter is bitten by the wolf continuing the existence of a werewolf where in the original tale the wolves who are portrayed as evil are all killed.

The Best Version


The TV Show, "Grimm"


Modern Folklore

The revival of these stories that are popularized into modern day shows like "Grimm" is in my opinion a way of resisting occupation of a foreign culture on the Untied States. With the terrorist attacks on the United States mostly starting on September 11, 2001, and launching us into war with the Middle East, this means of using folklore as a way of cultural resistance and preserving our culture has been revived. The folklore was of European descent and has been modernized within the past ten years. The roles of female characters has changed dramatically. No longer is the main feminine lead portrayed as the damsel in distress and along comes the knight in shining armor to save her. The characters are now more complex presenting both good and evil and appearing more realistic. However, there is also the topic of war and two civilizations clashing within modern day movies like "Maleficent". Even some books are being written with a combination of fantasy and war. The book Spellbound written by Megan Fricke is a combination of the main character, Gavin, going through combat training to prepare for an invasion of a neighboring country, while trying to find the answers to his problems in historical folklore. It preserves history and culture while at the same time addressing impending war. The book is a way of intellectual and literary resistance to oppression in our modern times. With the inventions of movies and television, the stories are now retold through modern media perhaps more frequently than in books. However, Spellbound is a perfect example of new folklore being written in a book. The methodology that was established by the Brothers Grimm is still being used today as it was hundreds of years ago when any culture or civilization was under occupation or threat.


Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on March 17, 2020:

Ezria, thank you for writing the article about the Brothers Grimm. You included fun videos, commentary, and quizzes.

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