The Morals of Rumpelstiltskin

The tale of Rumpelstiltskin isn’t a new one. Whether it’s the original version or some other local version, every household tells it. Every grandma knows it. Every child has heard it.

Till date, I have heard/read at least four versions. I’ve read of a few others as well.

It is fascinating tale of greed and betrayal. Some writers today have taken up the challenge of retellings, and while I haven’t read them yet, I’m sure they can’t be too shabby.

I’ve also been considering writing a retelling. But I always get stuck when I’m trying to visualize it.

Yesterday, as I was overseeing my cousin read (yet another version of) Rumpelstiltskin, I couldn’t help but wonder why it was this way.

Okay, so a miller was proud of his girl and wanted to boast about her. But why say something that was inadvertently going to get them both in trouble? Unless he’s kind of slow, or crazy to begin with, it makes no sense.

And then we have the king. Taking a poor miller for his word about gold. I’m inclined to think he would be a curse to the royal treasury.

Let’s not even start talking about the miller’s daughter and Rumpelstiltskin. Both of them are as greedy as greed can make one. A word bestowed hold no meaning once the need is served. And she goes to every length necessary to keep her firstborn. Granted, no person can know the love of a child unless they have one, but she should have named her price before he named and demanded it. Wouldn’t that have saved her all that heartache and adrenaline?

Last but not the least, why is this story told to primary schoolers? Just because the man is mysterious and strange looking doesn’t mean he can’t be trusted. And if he really can’t be trusted, why let him help you in the first place?

If there’s anything I’ve learned from reading school prescribed books, it’s that when you present morals in one story, we look for the same pattern in the others. Isn’t this teaching them that it’s okay to break promises as long as your happiness is being sacrificed?

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