Some of the magical and enchanting fairy tales from your childhood have been around for thousands of years.
Over the years, these fairy tales have been modified and changed quite a lot. What you may not have known, however, is that some of your favorite fairy tales have some dark and creepy histories.
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Let’s look at the top 10 scary fairy tale origins you may not have known about:
1. Snow White
Snow White was the first Disney fairytale adaptation, and many of us have spent our childhoods watching an animated movie. The original fairy tale was by the Brothers Grimm. In earlier versions, Snow White has to flee from her father, who is obsessed with his daughter’s beauty. She gets lost in the forest and is found by seven men who enslave her. There are also implications of necrophilia by the Prince.
2. The Pied Piper of Hamelin
You might remember the story of the Pied Piper luring away plague-carrying rats from a town on the orders of a Prince. In the original story, when the Prince refuses to pay the Piper, he uses his infectious music to lure away the town’s children, and they are never seen again. What is even darker and scarier is that the Pied Piper may have been a real person in the 1300s who killed 130 children.
3. Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel is a gruesome tale of child abuse and cannibalism that is shrouded in fantastical gingerbread houses and imaginative adventures. The Brothers Grimm story is way more explicit and detailed in the descriptions of the evil old woman. The story may have originated during the Great Famine in Europe when everyone was starving and forced to abandon their children to survive.
4. Beauty and The Beast
Although the Disney version of this fairy tale is beautifully illustrated and teaches us that love conquers all, the original story by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont is not so beautiful. In some versions of the story, Belle is kept away from the Beast by her evil and jealous sisters. As a result, she cannot return to her love, and he dies alone in the castle.
Who isn’t familiar with the popular phrase “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair?” The original Brothers Grimm story is much darker and scarier than the fairy tale version we know and love. Rapunzel gets lost in the forest in the original, alone and pregnant. The Price, who has been blinded because of the evil witch, cannot find Rapunzel again.
The story of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi is about a man who makes a puppet that slowly turns into a real boy. The boy, however, is not mischievous like in the Disney version, but rather evil. Pinocchio kills Jiminy Cricket and tries to run away. Collodi wanted to end the story with Pinocchio being hung, but his editors at the time advised him to change the ending.
7. The Little Mermaid
In the original Little Mermaid, there was no happily ever after for the mermaid. The Hans Christian Anderson story was gruesome and dark. The mermaid ends up losing her tail, her voice, and also the love of the Prince. In the end, she dies and turns to sea-foam rather than kill the man she loves.
8. Little Red Riding Hood
In the older versions of the Little Red Riding Hood story, the little girl is stalked by a wolf all alone and afraid in the woods. She finds that the wolf has eaten her grandmother whole and ends with the wolf eating the girl as well. There is no handsome huntsman to cut her out of the wolf’s belly.
9. Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty may sound like a romantic story where true love’s kiss can lift any curse, but the story is much darker than you might first think. In Charles Perrault’s version of the story, the Prince finds Sleeping Beauty and assaults her while she sleeps. She wakes later to give birth to twins and finds that the Prince is nowhere to be found.
The Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella is graphic and horrific. Cinderella’s eldest stepsister cuts off her toes so her feet will fit the glass slipper. The second stepsister cuts off her heel to try and do the same. The Prince does not fall for this, and in the end, two talking pigeons attack the sisters and pluck out their eyes.
Which of these scary fairy tale origins have you heard about before, and which of them left you shocked and horrified?