I’ve been reading my daughter the tale of Rumplestiltskin over the last day or so. Man, it’s wild! For anyone not familiar with the story, here it is in a nutshell.
A miller foolishly tells a king that his daughter can turn straw into gold.
The king gets interested, siezes the girl, locks her in a room full of straw and tells her upon pain of death, that all the straw needs to be turned into gold before dawn the next day.
An elf appears and for a small fee, offers to do the job. Offer is accepted and hey presto – the straw is converted into gold by the elf.
The king is impressed, but rather than let the poor girl go, he brings her to an even bigger room full of straw, and the nightmare for the girl continues for another few days, with the rooms getting bigger and bigger each time. Every time, the elf saves the day, but the poor girl is eventually obliged to promise her first-born child to him in return for a room full of gold.
Get, this: the girl then marries the king. It’s her reward no less.
She has a baby, the elf comes back looking for the kid, she refuses. The elf then proposes that if she can discover his name in 3 days, she can keep the kid. At the last minute she finds out that his name is Rumplestiltskin (a messenger hears him sing his name as he dances around his house), and when she tells him his name, the angry elf puts his foot through the floor before he leaves and is never seen again.
Now who exactly is the bad guy here? That king is a complete psychopath! I mean, imagine marrying someone who has just threatened to kill you if you can’t do something that should be impossible to do! And, like, what the hell is Rumplestiltskin doing, loudly singing his name outside when so much is at stake? Idiot.
So what was the moral of this tale? “The bigger the bastard you are, the greater the rewards”? “All men are bastards”? “Keep your father away from the drink, because he might say something really stupid”? Possibly all these are lessons to be gained from the story, but should we really be telling our kids this? 🙂
Still though, it makes a welcome change from “Prince Charming”…