Illustration from: Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Grimm's Märchen. Willy Planck, illustrator. Stuttgart: Lowes Verlag Ferdinand Carl, n.d.

Image Source: Sur la Lune Fairy Tales

I thought the Grimm version of “The Frog King” would be the familiar version of the fairy tale, and it is up to a point.

The king’s youngest, most beautiful daughter is playing with her golden ball beside a well. We already know that thing’s are going to work out well in the end for her, don’t we? The youngest, most beautiful child is inevitably bound for a happy ending in the Grimms’ tales.

The princess drops her ball into the well, and it sinks to the bottom. She cries and cries until a frog comes and offers to retrieve the ball but only if he is rewarded.

The frog answered, “I do not care for thy clothes, thy pearls and jewels, or thy golden crown, but if thou wilt love me and let me be thy companion and play-fellow, and sit by thee at thy little table, and eat off thy little golden plate, and drink out of thy little cup, and sleep in thy little bed — if thou wilt promise me this I will go down below, and bring thee thy golden ball up again.”

“Oh yes,” said she, “I promise thee all thou wishest, if thou wilt but bring me my ball back again.”

The princess had no intention of keeping her promise, and as soon as she has the ball back she races to the castle, leaving the frog behind despite his protests. At dinner the next day, however, the frog knocks on the door. The princess is forced to tell her father everything and the king insists that she keep her promise. The frog sits with the  princess at the table and eats from her plate. Finally, it is bed time, but while the frog wants to sleep with the girl in her bed, she instead places him in the corner of the room. The frog insists on sleeping with her.

Then she was terribly angry, and took him up and threw him with all her might against the wall. “Now, thou wilt be quiet, odious frog,” said she.

I can’t blame her, I wouldn’t want to sleep with a frog in my bed either. And that’s ignoring the sexual innuendos here. And what father would want his youngest, most precious daughter to sleep with a frog anyway?

But there’s a happy ending. When the frog falls to the floor he turns into a prince. He explains that he was under a spell, but now that she had broken it, he “by her father’s will was now her dear companion and husband.” Then they go to sleep and the next day leave for the prince’s kingdom. Not much of a wedding there. More of an “it’s okay, your dad want us to be married. Let me in your bed now.” Maybe I’m just being a little cynical today.

The prince and princess head off in the carriage. I expected that to be the end, but the carriage is attended by a servant of the prince, Faithful Henry, who had been so upset when the prince was turned into a frog that he had had iron bands placed around his heart. Now that the prince was free from the spell and happy, the bands broke off one by one. This ending bit just doesn’t fit with the rest of the tale to me, and it’s a part I had never heard before. Have you?

So, the princess never does kiss the frog. She slams him against the wall, which seems much more reasonable to me, but not nearly as romantic.

Friday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. I would love it if you joined me. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, share with us. If you have a link, please include it in your comment.


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