Hansel and Gretel’s mother becomes a stepmother

The Grimms were told by friends that some of the material in the first edition [of Grimm’s Fairy Tales] was too frightening for children, and they did make a few changes. In a notable example, the first edition of “Hansel and Gretel” has the mother and the father deciding together to abandon the children in the woods. In later editions, it is the stepmother who makes the suggestion, and the father repeatedly hesitates before he finally agrees. Apparently, the Grimms could not bear the idea that the mother, the person who bore these children, would do such a thing, or that the father would readily consent.

ONCE UPON A TIMEThe lure of the fairy tale.
BY JOAN ACOCELLA
JULY 23, 2012

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