Fairytales were probably our first source of entertainment and life lessons in our childhood. We learned our basics of good and bad deeds, rewards to the heroes and punishments to the villains, and the importance of values like honesty, hard work, kindness, etc. Well, I’m probably about to ruin your childhood but these stories were not what you thought.
They were whitewashed, sanitised, and disney-fied from the Grimm Brothers’ collection of folk-tales from around the world. Wanna know why? Because the original fairy-tales were imbued with such dark and cruel themes that they would’ve scarred your young minds permanently. Warning: there are descriptions of violence and harassment in this article.
I know, you could never have imagined the sweet love story of Cinderella to be on this list, but you’ve been in the dark all this time, my friend. While some details that were modified in the kids’ version were trivial, like how Cinderella actually attended the ball for 3 consecutive nights, the slipper-trial part is the most disturbing of all.
The true story narrates that when the older sister tried on the glass slipper, her mother instructed her to cut off her toes to make her foot fit. The younger one cut off her heel. Both their bluffs were caught, however, when a pair of pigeons warned the prince to look for blood in the slipper. Finally, when it was Cinderella’s turn (though I cannot imagine how she felt about putting her foot in all that blood) the slipper fit just right, of course. Wait, because it gets better (or worse?). The sisters attended Cinderella’s wedding where their eyes were pecked out mercilessly by the same pigeon duo. A happy ending for everyone.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Yup, even the beauty loved by critters and birds didn’t live in a flawless fairytale. Snow White’s story remains the same for the most part, which already had pretty evil elements considering how the queen tries to kill the young girl on multiple occasions. But the Evil Queen was apparently the Jeffrey Dahmer of fairy tales, because when she banished Snow White, she ordered the huntsmen to bring back her liver and heart as proof of her death, and also as a nice, little dinner. This didn’t happen, obviously.
Fast forward through the story of her living with the dwarfs and almost dying and coming back about thrice, and finally getting married to the prince – the queen was invited to their wedding, and guess what? Snow White did not take to it kindly. The people heated a pair of iron-shoes in burning coals and forced the Evil Queen to dance in them until she fell down dead. Real warm welcome for your step-mother, Snow White.
The story already boasts of long-term kidnapping and isolation of a young girl, but you don’t know how intense it actually was. First of all, when the prince climbed up Rapunzel’s hair, he actually impregnated her before leaving. Mother Gothel, or simply, the sorceress, was not happy when she found out, and she cut off Rapunzel’s hair and threw the pregnant girl into the wilderness. She then let down the hair when the naive prince came around, making him think that it was his beloved. No, my dude, it’s just a witch who’s trying to kill you. When he found out about the plight of Rapunzel, he was miserable and jumped off the tower, where he fell into thorns that poked out his eyes.
He wandered about miserably for years, before he chanced upon the place where the young princess spent her tragic life with the set of twins she had birthed. The two cried profusely as they met, and Rapunzel’s tears healed the prince’s eyes. They went back to his kingdom and lived happ- ah, you know what comes next. At least this one had a happy ending.
Oooh, buckle up guys, because this one gets dark. Even the Grimm Brothers cleaned up their version of the story a little, so we’ll go back to its roots. There are two slightly different versions by Charles Perrault and Giambattista Basile – both have a similar plot, from the curse of sleep by the old fairy and everything.
The former describes a young prince who appeared in the princess’s room as her curse was about to end and how they got married instantly. But the prince’s mother is an ogre, and when she finds his wife (Sleeping Beauty), who now has two children, she pulls a Jeffrey Dahmer 2.0 and demands to eat them while the prince is away. She is tricked by the cook every time, and when she finds out, she prepares a tub filled with vipers and serpents to throw the girl and her kids into, but then the prince arrives. Maddened at this turn of events, she jumps into it herself.
But this is not nearly as bad as the story Basile told. Here, a married king actually comes into Sleeping Beauty’s chambers and is so ensnared by her beauty that he rapes her in her sleep, and just leaves after that. The princess gives birth to two kids, and is awoken from her slumber when one of them accidentally sucks out the splinter that caused the curse. On the other side of the country, the king’s wife finds out about her husband’s infidelity and awful deeds, and tries to feed his own kids (from Sleeping Beauty) to him (the cook tricks her). She then tries to throw the poor princess into a fire, which is when the king arrives and instead throws his wife (now ex) into the same fire. And then, unfortunately, the rapist king is not punished; rather he marries Sleeping Beauty. Let’s just say, Maleficent’s curse was a gift compared to what the girl faced in her later life.
The Little Mermaid
This one’s more sad than gruesome, to be honest. It is not a part of the Grimm Brothers’ collection, and is instead authored by Hans Christian Anderson. The little mermaid, in her quest to find love, has to strike a painful deal with the sea witch as a result of which her tongue is cut off, her new legs are cursed to feel like she is stepping on sharp knives, and her death is guaranteed if the prince doesn’t fall in love with her.
And, guess what? The prince doesn’t fall in love with her, instead confusing a human woman to be the one who saved his life and arranging to marry her. The poor mermaid’s sisters love her so much that they beg the sea witch to give an option to save their sister. They tell the little mermaid that they traded their beautiful hair in return for a knife, and if she can murder the prince with it she will be allowed to live. The girl, who loves the prince, isn’t able to do it and instead turns into seafoam in her last minutes. This tragic tale of love and sacrifice is enough to make anyone cry.
Which of these original fairy-tales shocked and terrified you the most? Would you ever be able to look at your childhood favorites the same? Tell us below!
Like knowing the truth? You’ll love reading Baby Shower, But From The Sky?- Unravelling The Myth Of Storks Carrying Children