Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis



First Advisor

Colby Kullman

Relational Format



Much research has been done on the lives and works of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the German literary scholars of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Most of this research has pertained to the psychological and sociohistorical interpretations of their tales. Little work has been done, however, to directly relate their stories to events that happened during the time in which they lived. Also, the Brothers’ lives are oJften misunderstood as they thought widely to have only copied the stories they heard onto paper, which would have required little literary skill. On the contrary, the Brothers shaped the stories according to what they thought best reflected the ideals, norms, religious sentiments, and political and social events of the German society. are In this thesis, I will analyze five familiar Brothers Grimm tales - Little Red Riding-Hood, Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Grethel, and Snow-white and the Seven Dwarfs - with special attention given to the religious, social, and political connotations the Brothers worked into the tale. I will explain how the meaning of the tales go beyond that of what Walt Disney showed us through his films, and instead reflect certain events that happened during the time of the Brothers. Furthermore, I will show how their personal views on issues such as prostitution, the rising bourgeoisie culture, child abandonment, and the role of the woman in German society influenced the tone and plot of the tales.

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