Hansel and Gretel book report - detailed analysis, book summary, literary elements, character analysis, Brothers Grimm biography, and everything necessary for active class participation.
Hansel and Gretel (German: Hänsel und Gretel), one of the world's most popular fairy tales, is the work of the Brothers Grimm. The story was supposed to picture life of the middle-class during the 19th century. According to the story, we can conclude a lot about the difficulties of civilization at that period. Due to the constant famine that prevailed at the time, it was not at all uncommon for parents to abandon their children, especially in the woods where they would die or disappear.
In the first edition of the Brothers Grimm story collection, there was no stepmother. It was the mother who persuaded the father to leave the children in the woods. That has changed over the years, just like in the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fairy tale, for the sake of curiosity for children.
Also, interestingly, in the original sketch of the story, made by the Brothers Grimm in the Dortchen Wild area, the children have no names and appear on the pages only as "Little Sister" and "Little Brother".
The original story begins with a picture of a starving family (food symbolically represents love and care we give to each other). And hunger means lack of love. Above all, if we look at the story from this perspective, it turns out, there was a lack of love for children and more precisely for mothers (the father did not want to get rid of the children until the very end). And the expression of a lack of love for children is the mother's desire to "bring" the children into the woods. It can even be assumed that children were not desirable for this woman, which is something we would never assume as "natural" today.
Further narration can be considered as one (or set) of dreams, and a set of events that actually happened (in reality from a fairy tale). This does not significantly change their interpretation.
Gretel, together with his brother Hansel meets an evil witch, who is the shadow of their real mother. An honest version of one aspect of femininity and motherhood.
The witch openly declares that she wants to kill the boy. In other words, children, exploring their subconscious, encounters a picture of their mother and is actually scary and carnivorous.
The mother's outer false shell is easily destroyed, releasing a terrible, powerful, but expected (from the children's) reality.
Folklorists Iona and Peter Opie in Classical Tales (1974) point out that Hansel and Gretel belong to a group of European stories, especially popular in the Baltic region, about children who cheat cannibals in whose hands they are inadvertently caught. The story is reminiscent of the first half of Charles Perrault's The Boy with the Finger (1697) and Madame d'Onue's short story The Smart Ashes (1721). In both stories the abandoned children mark their way home. In Clever Ash, Opie notes, the heroine burns the giant by pushing him into the oven in a similar way. Linguist and folklorist Edward Wajda suggested that these stories reflect the rite of initiation of proto-Indo-European society.
The candy house is a picture of the Baba Yaga hut, which the Europeans altered and distorted. It is covered with "pancakes and pies" (funeral food).
This image was taken over from the Slavs by the new inhabitants of Europe, who took their places of residence. They turned the picture of the "edible" forest witch's hut into a gingerbread house (judging by the gingerbread, it happened quite late). But the essence is preserved.
Other book reports
- Snow White
- The Brave Little Tailor
- The Fisherman and His Wife
- The Frog Prince
- The Golden Goose
- The Sleeping Beauty
- The Twelve Dancing Princesses
- The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats
- Town Musicians of Bremen
Genre: fairy tale
Setting: once upon a time, the place is unknown, woods, a house in the woods
Point of view: third-person
Narrator: an omniscient narration
Mood: sadness, suspense
Theme: a story about a brother and sister left alone in the woods trying to find their way home come up to a witch's house
Read original story Hansel and Gretel online >>
Once upon a time, a poor woodcutter lived in a forest with his wife. They had two children, Hansel and Gretel and they lived in a small, dilapidated hut.
Soon, his wife told him that there was not enough food for all of them, that they have too many mouths to feed, so it would be best to get rid of the children. The woodcutter didn't even want to hear about it, but his wife kept bothering him about it. She told him it would be best to take the children deep into the woods, where they wouldn't be able to find their way home. Who knows, maybe someone will find them there and give them another, much better home.
After much persuasion, the woodcutter decided to obey his wife. When the children went to bed, they once again agreed on the plan, thinking the children were asleep.
But Hansel and Marica were not sleeping, so they clearly heard their conversation. Gretel was very scared of the forest, so her brother told her not to worry as if their parents leave them in the forest, they will somehow find their way home. And then Hansel snuck out of the house, filled his pockets with pebbles, and snuck into bed again.
The next morning, the woodcutter finally obeyed the woman and took his children into the woods. As soon as they went a little deeper into the trees, Hensel began to throw pebbles out of his pockets. They walked for a very long time, and then the woodcutter muttered something and left, leaving Hansel and Gretel alone among the trees.
They stood alone in the woods until night fell. Then Gretel was frightened by the darkness and began to sob softly, and Hansel comforted her, trying to be brave for his sister. He told her not to cry as even if their father doesn't come back for them, they'll find their way home."
Suddenly a large, bright moon shone in the sky. The moonlight was so strong that Hansel could clearly see the pebbles he was throwing behind him as he walked toward the forest. He grabbed his sister by the arm and led her home.
When they got home, they were tired, so they immediately crept into their beds and fell asleep sweetly.
The next morning, when their mother woke up, she realized in despair that Hansel and Gretel were at home. She became enraged and locked the children in the room, then ordered her husband to take them back to the woods. The poor woodcutter tried to rebel, but the woman's anger was so great that he could not say a word.
The next morning the woodcutter took his two children into the woods again. Before they left, Hansel took some hard bread from the table, and as soon as they entered the forest, he began to crumble the pieces, leaving a trail behind. He thought that he would find his way home again if his father left them in the woods, but he didn't know that the birds followed them and ate the bread that Hansel threw away.
The woodcutter left the children in the woods for the second time. After they were left alone, Hansel tried to find bread crumbs. He was stunned to see that they were gone. Soon night fell and Gretel began to cry. She was hungry and cold, so Hansel told her not to worry because he would take care of her. Still, he was afraid of the dark forest. It seemed to him that the shadows of the trees were monsters and that someone was constantly watching them. Brother and sister hugged next to a large tree and welcomed the morning.
As soon as the day lit up the forest, Hansel and Gretel started wandering. They were looking for a way home. But the forest was large, so they couldn't find their home. They strayed from all paths and were eventually completely lost. They soon became very hungry and tired, but then, suddenly, they saw an unusual hut in front of them. As they approached it, they realized it was made of chocolate, biscuits, candy, and delicious toppings!
Hansel and Gretel immediately started eating sweets from the house. They were very hungry so they enjoyed every bite. They were so preoccupied with food that they didn't even notice when an unusual old woman was sneaking up.
She asked them why are they eating her house. Hansel and Gretel stopped eating and just looked at the old woman in horror. But she smiled and invited them to her house.
They entered the house and didn't know that she was a witch luring children with sweets to hunt them in a trap. The witch imprisoned Hansel and Gretel because she loved to eat small children. She decided to eat Hansel and make Gretel her maid because the witch was already old and couldn't see well, so she couldn't clean the house herself.
Before she decided to cook Hansel, the witch wanted to see how fat Hansel was. Since her eyes didn't serve her well, she felt his thin arms and said he was just bone and skin and that she has to make him fat before she eats him.
And so the witch forced Gretel to cook and clean, and Hansel to eat. He was getting fatter and fatter, so his sister was afraid that the witch might soon eat him. Gretel had a bone from a hen's leg, and every time the witch went to touch Hansel's hand, he would give her a bone instead so the witch would think he was still too skinny the witch would exclaim every time she touched Hansel, and then angrily gave him more food.
One day the witch got tired of waiting, so she ordered Hansel to make a fire in an oven to cook Hansel. Gertel started a large fire, but when the witch asked her if the fire was big enough, she said she didn't know. The witch got angry and went to check the fire herself, so when she leaned over the fire, Gretel pushed her into the stove. It was the end of the old witch.
Hansel and Gretel were finally free. They took the treasure that the witch hid in the chocolate eggs and headed for the woods. After walking for two days, they saw their father wandering through the woods and crying. He was overjoyed to see his children. He ran to hug them and through tears said that their stepmother had died, so now they can return home in peace.
Hansel and Gretel asked their father to promise them that he would never leave them again. He said he would be a good father from now on, and the children thanked him for the treasure they found in the chocolate eggs. The father no longer needed to cut wood and they all lived beautifully and happily for the rest of their lives.
Hansel - is shown as a sensible, careful, and good boy who comforts his sister in times of need. He is witty and easily comes up with a plan to fool the witch and he saves not only himself but his sister too. He keeps comforting her throughout the entire story.
Gretel - a frightful girl that cries all the time and she was a thoughtful sister who would share her last piece of bread with her brother. In the end, she showed her strength by pushing the witch into the oven.
The witch - evil and sly as a fox. Her appearance was misleading because she didn't look like a witch. She eats little children, but in the end, Gretel pushes her to the oven.
The father - a good man, despite the fact he abandoned his own children under the influence of his wife. He was sincerely happy to see his kids coming back.
The mother - an evil and rough woman that didn't care about anyone but herself.
Thanks to the Grimm brothers many children enjoyed reading the stories of brave heroes that always win over evil. The Grimm brothers are well-known German authors that, with a little help from the national stories, made fairy tales that were enjoyed by the older and the younger.
The older brother Jacob was born in 1785 and died in 1863. The younger brother Wilhelm was born in 1786 and died in 1859. Both of them were linguists and philosophers. Jacob published German grammar and together with his brother he published a German dictionary.
Both of them studied law in Marburg and during that period both of them criticized King Ernest August I. and because of that, they could not end their school because they were banned. Because of the inability to study law both of them started writing fairy tales which made them famous.
They were collecting them and writing them together while Wilhelm gave them a final touch. Their fairy tales are known as stories full of wisdom and cheerfulness.
In the beginning, their collection contained 86 stories and through repeated publishing, the number grew to 200. Some of their most famous works are "The Sleeping Beauty", "Cinderella", "Snow White", "Rapunzel", etc.
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