No Morales for the Unnamed

            Paul Zelinsky is a writer who is known for children’s books, most of which he made as a retelling of old fables, but with more kid friendly reading and lots more pictures like this one to keep the kiddos interested. Zelinsky rewrote, or “retold” if you prefer, the story Rumpelstiltskin made famous by the Brothers Grimm so that children could get a story to teach them that the world is not always clear cut and understandable like a story without traumatizing them with the thought of a small man ripping himself in half in anger (yes this was in the original story, no it was not explained how it was achieved). The story as “retold” by Zelinsky is essentially that there once was a miller with a daughter so talented that he bragged to the king that she could weave straw into gold. The king being either too gullible or too ignorant to think otherwise had the miller’s daughter locked in a room filled to the brim with hay and was told to make it all turn to gold or she would die. The daughter being only human could obviously not turn straw into gold and feared for her life when all of a sudden a small man named Rumpelstiltskin (the only one in the story given a name which is left untold for most of the story) appears in the room and will turn the straw to gold in exchange for whatever she’ll give him. For three nights she traded Rumpelstiltskin two pieces of jewelry and her unborn first born child (since she could clearly give up nothing else) for him to change three increasingly large rooms full of straw into gold.

                  After all of this the greedy king who threatened the miller’s daughter’s life married her and they forgot all about his not so empty threats and the little man who may or may not have been promised their first born child until one day the miller’s daughter had a son and Rumpelstiltskin came to collect his salary. The daughter was so distressed and sorrowful that Rumpelstiltskin promised her that she could keep the child if she could guess his name within three days. For these days she would only give him three names a day since her son’s life was not important enough for her to guess four times or more and on the third day one of her servants stumbled across Rumpelstiltskin and heard his name so that when he came on the final day the miller’s daughter knew his name and Rumpelstiltskin must have known more than her since he screamed that the only possible way for her to know that would be to hear it from the devil himself. Oh, and then he flew away on a spoon. Long story short, I guess you shouldn’t brag about how your daughter can make gold from anything other than gold or a little man will scream about the devil and fly away on a spoon.


One thought on “No Morales for the Unnamed

  1. The piece was very well written and enjoyable to read. The humorous aspects made the topic much more interesting and the references to the original tale help a lot in showing how the writer changed the story to fit his audience, but I would have like to see a little more analysis into how that changed the story and what not. I also really liked how you pointed out the absurdity of some of the things that happened in the story, and questioned how feasible some actions were. Like questioning the king’s intelligence and wondering how exactly one would pull oneself in half.


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