您现在所在位置:经典儿童故事 > 英语故事 > 童话故事 > 正文

Brother and Sister

点击数:155 收藏本文

BROTHER1 took sister2 by the hand and said: "Look here; we haven't had one single happy hour since our mother died. That stepmother3 of ours beats us regularly every day,4 and if we dare go near her she kicks us away. We never get anything but hard dry crusts to eat -- why, the dog under the table is better off than we are. She does throw him a good morsel or two now and then. Oh dear! if our own dear mother5 only knew all about it! Come along, and let us go forth into the wide world together."6

So off they started through fields and meadows,7 over hedges and ditches, and walked the whole day long, and when it rained sister said:

"Heaven and our hearts are weeping together."

Towards evening they came to a large forest,8 and were so tired out with hunger and their long walk, as well as all their trouble, that they crept into a hollow tree and soon fell fast asleep.

Next morning, when they woke up, the sun was already high in the heavens and was shining down bright and warm into the tree. Then said brother:

"I'm so thirsty,9 sister; if I did but know where to find a little stream, I'd go and have a drink. I do believe I hear one." He jumped up, took sister by the hand, and they set off to hunt for the brook.

Now their cruel stepmother was in reality a witch,10 and she knew perfectly well that the two children had run away. She had crept secretly after them, and had cast her spells over all the streams in the forest.11

Presently the children found a little brook dancing and glittering over the stones, and brother was eager to drink of it, but as it rushed past sister heard it murmuring:12

"Who drinks of me will be a tiger!"13 who drinks of me will bea tiger!"14

So she cried out, "Oh! dear brother, pray don't drink, or you'll be turned into a wild beast and tear me to pieces."

Brother was dreadfully thirsty, but he did not drink.

"Very well," said he, "I'll wait till we come to the next spring."

When they came to the second brook, sister heard it repeating too:

"Who drinks of me will be a wolf! I who drinks of me will be a wolf!"15

And she cried, "Oh! brother, pray don't drink here either, or you'll be turned into a wolf and eat me up."16

Again brother did not drink, but he said:

"Well, I'll wait a little longer till we reach the next stream, but then, whatever you may say, I really must drink, for I can bear this thirst no longer."

And when they got to the third17 brook, sister heard it say as it rushed past:

"Who drinks of me will be a roe! who drinks of me will be a roe!"18

And she begged, "Ah! brother, don't drink yet, or you'll become a roe and run away from me."19

But her brother was already kneeling by the brook and bending over it to drink, and, sure enough, no sooner had his lips touched the water than he fell on the grass transformed into a little Roebuck.20

Sister cried bitterly over her poor bewitched brother, and the little Roe wept too, and sat sadly by her side. At last the girl said:

"Never mind, dear little fawn,21 I will never forsake you,"22 and she took off her golden garter23 and tied it round the Roe's neck.

Then she pluckedrushes and plaited a soft cord of them,24 which she fastened to the collar.25 When she had done this she led the Roe farther and farther, right into the depths of the forest.

After they had gone a long, long way they came to a little house,26 and when the girl looked into it she found it was quite empty, and she thought. "Perhaps we might stay and live here."

So she hunted up leaves and moss to make a soft bed for the little Roe, and every morning and evening she went out and gathered roots, nuts, and berries for herself, and tender young grass for the fawn. And he fed from her hand, and played round her and seemed quite happy. In the evening, when sister was tired, she said her prayers and then laid her head on the fawn's back and fell sound asleep with it as a pillow. And if brother had but kept his natural form, really it would have been a most delightful kind of life.27

They had been living for some time in the forest in this way, when it came to pass that the King28 of that country had a great hunt through the woods.29 Then the whole forest rang with such a blowing of horns, baying of dogs, and joyful cries of huntsmen, that the little Roe heard it and longed to join in too.30

"Ah!" said he to sister, "do let me go off to the hunt! I can't keep still any longer."

And he begged and prayed till at last she consented.

"But," said she, "mind you come back in the evening. I shall lock my door fast for fear of those wild huntsmen; so, to make sure of my knowing you, knock at the door and say, 'My sister dear, open; I'm here.' If you don't speak I shan't open the door."

So off sprang the little Roe, and he felt quite well and happy in the free open air.

The King and his huntsmen soon saw the beautiful creature and started in pursuit, but they could not come up with it, and whenever they thought they were sure to catch it, it bounded off to one side into the bushes and disappeared. When night came on it ran home, and knocking at the door of the little house cried:

"My sister dear, open; I'm here." The door opened, and he ran in and rested all night on his soft mossy bed.

Next morning the hunt began again, and as soon as the little Roe heard the horns and the "Ho! ho!" of the huntsmen, he could not rest another moment, and said:

"Sister, open the door, I must get out."

So sister opened the door and said, "Now mind and get back by nightfall, and say your little rhyme."

As soon as the King and his huntsmen saw the Roe with the golden collar they all rode off after it, but it was far too quick and nimble for them. This went on all day, but as evening came on the huntsmen had gradually encircled the Roe, and one of them wounded it slightly in the foot, so that it limped and ran off slowly.

Then the huntsman stole after it as far as the little house, and heard it call out, "My sister dear, open; I'm here," and he saw the door open and close immediately after the fawn had run in.

The huntsman remembered all this carefully, and went off straight to the King and told him all he had seen and heard.

"To-morrow we will hunt again," said the King.

Poor sister was terribly frightened when she saw how her little Fawn had been wounded. She washed off the blood, bound up the injured foot with herbs, and said: "Now, dear, go and lie down and rest, so that your wound may heal."

The wound was really so slight that it was quite well next day, and the little Roe did not feel it at all. No sooner did it hear the sounds of hunting in the forest than it cried:

"I can't stand this, I must be there too; I'll take care they shan't catch me."

Sister began to cry, and said, "They are certain to kill you, and then I shall be left all alone in the forest and forsaken by everyone. I can't and won't let you out."

"Then I shall die of grief," replied the Roe, "for when I hear that horn I feel as if I must jump right out of my skin."

So at last, when sister found there was nothing else to be done, she opened the door with a heavy heart, and the Roe darted forth full of glee and health into the forest.

As soon as the King saw the Roe, he said to his huntsman, "Now then, give chase to it all day till evening, but mind and be careful not to hurt it."

When the sun had set the King said to his huntsman, "Now come and show me the little house in the wood."

And when he got to the house he knocked at the door and said, "My sister dear, open; I'm here." Then the door opened and the King walked in, and there stood the loveliest maiden he had ever seen.31

The girl was much startled32 when instead of the little Roe she expected she saw a man with a gold crown on his head walk in. But the King looked kindly at her, held out his hand, and said, "Will you come with me to my castle and be my dear wife?"33

"Oh yes!" replied the maiden, "but you must let my Roe come too. I could not possibly forsake it."34

"It shall stay with you as long as you live, and shall want for nothing," the King promised.

In the meantime the Roe came bounding in, and sister tied the rush cord once more to its collar, took the end in her hand, and so they left the little house in the forest together.

The King lifted the lonely maiden on to his horse, and led her to his castle, where the wedding was celebrated with the greatest splendour. The Roe was petted and caressed, and ran about at will in the palace gardens.

Now all this time the wicked stepmother, who had been the cause of these poor children's misfortunes and trying adventures, was feeling fully persuaded that sister had been torn to pieces by wild beasts, and brother shot to death in the shape of a Roe. When she heard how happy and prosperous they were, her heart was filled with envy and hatred,35 and she could think of nothing but how to bring some fresh misfortune on them. Her own daughter,36 who was as hideous as night and had only one eye,37 reproached her by saying, "It is I who ought to have had this good luck and been Queen."

"Be quiet, will you," said the old woman; "when the time comes I shall be at hand."

Now after some time it happened one day when the King was out hunting that the Queen gave birth to a beautiful little boy.38 The old witch thought here was a good chance for her; so she took the form of the lady in waiting,39 and, hurrying into the room where the Queen lay in her bed, called out, "The bath is quite ready; it will help to make you strong again. Come, let us be quick, for fear the water should get cold." Her daughter was at hand, too, and between them they carried the Queen, who was still very weak, into the bath-room and laid her in the bath;40 then they locked the door and ran away.

They took care beforehand to make a blazing hot fire under the bath, so that the lovely young Queen might be suffocated.41

As soon as they were sure this was the case, the old witch tied a cap on her daughter's head and laid her in the Queen's bed. She managed, too, to make her figure and general appearance look like the Queen's, but even her power could not restore the eye she had lost; so she made her lie on the side of the missing eye, in order to prevent the King's noticing anything.

In the evening, when the King came home and heard the news of his son's birth, he was full of delight, and insisted on going at once to his dear wife's bedside to see how she was getting on. But the old witch cried out, "Take care and keep the curtains drawn; don't let the light get into the Queen's eyes; she must be kept perfectly quiet." So the King went away and never knew that it was a false Queen42 who lay in the bed.

When midnight43 came and everyone in the palace was sound asleep, the nurse who alone watched by the baby's cradle in the nursery saw the door open gently, and who should come in but the real Queen.44 She lifted the child from its cradle, laid it on her arm, and nursed it for some time.45 Then she carefully shook up the pillows of the little bed, laid the baby down and tucked the coverlet in all round him. She did not forget the little Roe46 either, but went to the corner where it lay, and gently stroked its back. Then she silently left the room, and next morning when the nurse asked the sentries47 if they had seen any one go into the castle that night, they all said, "No, we saw no one at all."

For many nights the Queen came in the same way, but she never spoke a word, and the nurse was too frightened to say anything about her visits.

After some little time had elapsed the Queen spoke one night, and said:

"Is my child well? Is my Roe well?
I'll come back twice and then farewell."48

The nurse made no answer, but as soon as the Queen had disappeared she went to the King and told him all. The King exclaimed, "Good heavens! what do you say? I will watch myself to-night by the child's bed."

When the evening came he went to the nursery, and at midnight the Queen appeared and said:

"Is my child well? Is my Roe well?
I'll come back once and then farewell."

And she nursed and petted the child as usual before she disappeared. The King dared not trust himself to speak to her, but the following night he kept watch again.

That night when the Queen came she said:

"Is my child well? Is my Roe well?
I've come back once and then farewell."

Then the King could restrain himself no longer, but sprang to her side and cried, "You can be no one but my dear wife!"

"Yes," said she, "I am your dear wife!"49 and in the same moment she was restored to life, and was as fresh and well and rosy as ever.50 Then she told the King all the cruel things the wicked witch and her daughter had done. The King had them both arrested at once and brought to trial, and they were condemned to death. The daughter was led into the forest, where the wild beasts tore her to pieces,51 and the old witch was burnt at the stake.52

As soon as she reduced to ashes the spell was taken off the little Roe, and he was restored to his natural shape once more,53 and so brother and sister lived happily ever after.54

1.  Brother:  At times, this tale has been confused with a more famous brother and sister tale, Hansel and Gretel. Hansel and Gretel has been known as Little Brother and Little Sister which is also an alternate title for this tale. The Grimms selected Hansel and Gretel for the tale by that name and kept the Brother and Sister title for this tale. Some publications of the Hansel and Gretel tale still use the Little Brother and Little Sister title, causing confusion for readers.

According to Bruno Bettelheim, the brother "represents the endangered aspect of an essentially inseparable unity" (Bettelheim 1975, 79).
Return to place in story.


2.  Sister:  The sister is the protagonist of this tale. Similar to the sister in Six Swans, this sister endures the enchantment of her sibling, marries, and continues to be the target of a malicious stepmother.

While there are many tales in which a brother and sister work well together, such as this one and Hansel and Gretel, there are few tales in which two sisters or two brothers work closely together. Siblings of the same gender are often rivals. One exception is the tale of Snow White and Rose Red. There are also many tales in which the sister has several brothers whom she strives to rescue from an enchantment, such as Six Swans.

According to Bruno Bettelheim, the sister as a "symbol of motherly care once one has become alienated from home, is the rescuer" (Bettelheim 1975, 79).
Return to place in story.


3.  Stepmother:  The image of the evil stepmother occurs frequently in fairy tales. She is associated with jealousy and cruelty (Olderr 1986). "In masculine psychology, the stepmother is a symbol of the unconscious in a destructive role" (von Franz 1970). The stepmother figure is actually two sided, in that while she has destructive intentions, her actions often lead the protagonist into situations that identify and strengthen his or her best qualities.

In the most common Russian variant of this tale, Sister Alionushka, Brother Ivanushka (also known as Alenoushka and Her Brother), the siblings are orphans with no parents. They are forced to fend for themselves since no one else is available to care for them. In the Russian version by Afanasyev, the children are identified as a prince and princess.
Return to place in story.


4.  Beats us regularly every day: This is probably not an exaggeration. Physical abuse was not uncommon in times past and was more acceptable, or at least more tolerated , than it is today.
Return to place in story.


5.  Our own dear mother: In her commentary on the mother and stepmother roles in the Grimms' tales, Maria Tatar writes: "Although the evil mother or stepmother is very much alive in the fairy tale, the good mother--protecting, loving and nurturing--is always dead. Yet she does not abandon her child completely, for she inevitably returns in the shape of benevolent natural powers" (Tatar 1987, 73).
Return to place in story.


6.  Let us go forth into the wide world together: This is a stark contrast from Hansel and Gretel. Hansel and Gretel are purposely lost in the forest by their parents. This brother and sister purposely leave to escape the abuse and poverty in their home. The implication is that these siblings are much older than Hansel and Gretel and capable of taking care of themselves.
Return to place in story.


7.  They started through fields and meadows: In a Russian variant of this tale, Alenoushka and Her Brother, the brother and sister walk across a dry plain with the grass burned by the sun and sandy terrain. There they encounter the strange enchantment of the water when they are riddled with thirst. The enchantment does not happen in a forest as it does here.
Return to place in story.


8.  A large forest: The forest is a recurrent image in German fairy tales, in part because over a quarter of the country is comprised of forest land. In the Grimms' tales, the forest is a supernatural world, a place where anything can happen and often does.

According to Jungian psychology, the forest is a representation of the feminine principle and is identified with the unconscious. The foliage blocks the sun's rays, the sun being associated with the male principle. The forest symbolizes the dangerous side of the unconscious, its ability to destroy reason (Cirlot 1962) and (Matthews 1986).
Return to place in story.


9.  I'm so thirsty: According to Bruno Bettelheim, as well as many other psychological critics, the brother's thirst represents his "instinctual pressures" which we all must learn to control (Bettelheim 1975, 80).
Return to place in story.


10.  A witch: A witch and stepmother are the two villains in Hansel and Gretel. Many critics believe the two characters in that tale to be the same villain, both destroyed at the same time. This tale blatantly makes the stepmother the evil witch who persecutes the children. There is no differentiation between the stepmother and the witch. Another tale in which a stepmother witch persecutes her stepchildren is The Six Swans.

Belief in witches exists in nearly every culture worldwide (Leach 1949). In Jungian psychology, the witch is a personification of evil which eventually consumes itself. The witch symbolizes the destructive power of the unconscious (Luthi 1976).
Return to place in story.


11.  Cast her spells over all the streams in the forest: In some Russian variants of the tale, such as Afanasyev's Sister Alionushka, Brother Ivanushkam and Ransome's Alenoushka and Her Brother, no spell is described as being cast. In Sister Alionushka, Brother Ivanushkam, the siblings encounter bodies of water which are the watering places of various animals, each time the type of animal the brother will become if he drinks at the same place as the animals. In Alenoushka and Her Brother, the siblings encounter hoofmarks of various animals filled with sitting water. The brother is warned he will turn into the shape of whichever animal's hoofmark he drinks from. The implication of these variations tends to support Bettelheim's theories of the tale being about controling our animal instincts.
Return to place in story.


12.  Heard it murmuring: In Bettelheim's analysis, "the sister, representing ego and superego [the higher mental functions], recognizes the danger of seeking immediate satisfaction and persuades the brother to resist his thirst" (Bettelheim 1975, 80). Other analysts interpret the murmuring as being protection from the dead mother that the sister is able to hear, perhaps due to her maturity and/or gender.
Return to place in story.


13.  Who drinks of me will be a tiger!: The brother is "ready to permit himself to be carried away by his wish for immediate gratification (of his thirst), no matter what the cost of doing so. But should the brother give into the pressure of the id, he would become asocial, as violent as a tiger" (Bettelheim 1975, 80). If he turns into a tiger, he will destroy both himself and his sister since he would tear her to pieces in such a form.

In the Russian variants, the animals gradually reduce in size, but none of them are a physical threat to the sister. In one version, the first animal transformation threatens to be a horse.
Return to place in story.


14.  A tiger: A tiger can symbolize "wrath, cruelty, bloodthirstiness, ferocity, courage, brutality, jealousy, violent desires, and treachery" (Olderr 1986).
Return to place in story.


15.  A wolf: A tiger can symbolize "rapacity, rapine, hunger, hypocrisy, lust, cruelty, fraud, deceit, cunning, corruption, darkness, untamed nature, avarice, greed, and the lesser instincts taking control of more human instincts" (Olderr 1986).

Note that a wolf, while a dangerous animal, is still smaller than the preceding tiger. The wolf has become a popular image in fairy tales thanks to Little Red Riding Hood and The Tale of the Three Little Pigs. The wolf is a common predator in the forest and thus is a natural choice for the story. The wolf is often a metaphor for a sexually predatory man.
Return to place in story.


16. You'll be turned into a wolf and eat me up: The brother is still at risk of transforming into a dangerous beast if he obeys his thirst and drinks the water.
Return to place in story.


17.  Third: The number and/or pattern of three often appears in fairy tales to provide rhythm and suspense. The pattern adds drama and suspense while making the story easy to remember and follow. The third event often signals a change and/or ending for the listener/reader.

The reasons and theories behind three's popularity are numerous and diverse. The number has been considered powerful across history in different cultures and religions, but not all of them. Christians have the Trinity, the Chinese have the Great Triad (man, heaven, earth), and the Buddhists have the Triple Jewel (Buddha, Dharma, Sanga). The Greeks had the Three Fates. Pythagoras considered three to be the perfect number because it represented everything: the beginning, middle, and end. Some cultures have different powerful numbers, often favoring seven, four and twelve.
Return to place in story.


18.  A roe: A roe deer is "a small European and Asiatic deer having erect, cylindrical, branched antlers, forked at the summit. This, the smallest European deer, is very nimble and graceful. It always prefers a mountainous country, or high grounds" (Webster's 1990).

In some of the Russian variants, the brother is transformed into a lamb and a kid (baby goat). All of these are playful, relatively benign animals, like the deer. In an Italian tale, The Stepmother, the brother becomes a calf with golden horns.
Return to place in story.


19.  Run away from me: Note that if the brother drinks here, he will become a "much tamer animal. So much does delay--a partial obedience to the restraining aspects of our mental apparatus--achieve. But as the pressure of id (brother's thirst) increases, it overpowers the restraints of ego and superego: the sister's admonitions lose the power to control" (Bettelheim 1975, 80).

Bettelheim also notes: "Even a limited degree of control achieves a high measure of humanization, as the reducation of animal ferocity from tiger to wolf to deer symbolizes" (Bettelheim 1975, 80).

The brother will be hard to control as a deer, but he will not pose a physical threat to his sister in his beastly form.
Return to place in story.


20.  Roebuck: A roebuck is a male roe deer (Webster's 1990).
Return to place in story.


21.  Dear little fawn: A fawn is "a young deer; a buck or doe of the first year" (Webster's 1990). The animal's youth represents the brother's own youth and immaturity.
Return to place in story.


22.  I will never forsake you: Jack Zipes theorizes that tales like this one and The Six Swans were important to the Grimms for their messages about family fidelity through adversity and separation (Zipes 1988, 40).
Return to place in story.


23.  Golden garter: A garter is "a band worn around the leg to hold up a stocking (or around the arm to hold up a sleeve)" (WordNet).
Return to place in story.


24.  Rushes and plaited a soft cord of them: Rushes are "grasslike plants growing in wet places and having cylindrical often hollow stems" (WordNet). They are handy for creating ropes and baskets.
Return to place in story.


25.  Fastened to the collar: The brother, in his transformed state, literally becomes the sister's pet. She, as the more responsible adult, becomes the keeper of the animal with lower instincts.
Return to place in story.


26.  A little house: Many fairy tales include huts or little houses hidden in a forest for various reasons, such as in Hansel and Gretel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The hut may be a place of danger or a safety zone for the heroine. This hut is a haven, not the place of danger found in Hansel and Gretel.
Return to place in story.


27.  If brother had but kept his natural form, really it would have been a most delightful kind of life: Despite the quaint picture of domestic tranquility portrayed in this interlude, we know this is not the happy ending to the story since the brother has not been disenchanted. More change, and possibly adversity, is on the horizon. Note that the sister is the adult figure, parenting herself and her enchanted brother, by providing food and shelter. The brother simply plays and frolics all day.
Return to place in story.


28.  King: In romantic fairy tales, the heroine's husband is usually royalty, either a king or prince, at least a nobleman. In some variants, the sister is also of royal birth and must therefore marry at her same station.
Return to place in story.


29.  A great hunt through the woods: In times past, hunting was a popular activity among the nobility, used for sport and necessity. The game was often used for food, but for trophies as well.
Return to place in story.


30.  Little Roe heard it and longed to join in too: Bettelheim considers the Roe's experience to be his "ordeal which could become his initiation to a higher from of existence" (Bettelheim 1975, 81). I find his interpretation problematic. The Roe appears to be eager to put himself into more danger, underestimating his ability to flee danger, in fact flirting with it for the thrill of the chase. He forgets that as a deer, he is the prey, not the predator.
Return to place in story.


31.  The loveliest maiden he had ever seen: Hyperbole is frequently used to describe beauty in fairy tales. Each beautiful woman has "no equal" or is "the most beautiful" or similar. Beauty often represents goodness, worthiness, privilege, and wealth in fairy tales. Princesses are especially expected to be beautiful. Physical beauty is often considered to represent inner beauty in folklore, except for when it is a magical disguise.
Return to place in story.


32.  The girl was much startled: This scene is reminiscent of Rapunzel's surprise when the prince, her future spouse, enters her tower instead of the expected Mother Gothel.
Return to place in story.


33.  Will you come with me to my castle and be my dear wife?: Note that marriage is not the ultimate goal of this tale as it is in many romantic fairy tales. The marriage comes before the end of the story. The tale is one of family unity. The brother and sister struggle to find happiness together as a family unit as adults.
Return to place in story.


34.  You must let my Roe come too. I could not possibly forsake it: Bettelheim observes that "during most of the story the two do not part; they represent the animal and spiritual sides of our personality, which become separated but must be integrated for human happiness" (Bettelheim 1975, 146).
Return to place in story.


35.  Her heart was filled with envy and hatred: The stepmother's animosity of reminiscent of the evil stepmother in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Although the children are no longer a burden, their mere existence, and a happy one at that, is enough reason for her to plot their deaths.
Return to place in story.


36.  Her own daughter: Fairy tales are filled with mothers--both witches and regular mothers--trying to marry off their daughters in favorable circumstances. They include the mother in Cinderella and the troll-hag in East of the Sun and West of the Moon.
Return to place in story.


37.  Hideous as night and had only one eye: Physical ugliness and deformity (although a politically incorrect term by today's standards) has long been considered a sign of internal ugliness, sometimes in fairy tales. Just as beauty represents inner goodness, physical ugliness is used to stereotype inner ugliness, especially in the literature of previous centuries.
Return to place in story.


38.  Queen gave birth to a beautiful little boy: The Queen's ability to give birth to a son is important not only to her husband, but to her kingdom. A first born son would be the crown prince and possibly averts disaster for a kingdom that relies on progeny to avoid strife in the royal lineage.
Return to place in story.


39.  Lady in waiting: A lady in waiting is "a lady appointed to attend to a queen or princess" (WordNet). A lady in waiting was usually from the upper classes in a higher level of honorable servitude.
Return to place in story.


40.  The bath: Water in various forms often plays a part in the young sister's death. In other variants, she is drowned by being thrown into a lake or river with a millstone about her neck. In the versions in which she is killed, water is usually involved in her cause of death.
Return to place in story.


41.  Might be suffocated: Suffocation might occur from the fire's smoke under the bath. Suffocation is usually the cause of death by fire in enclosed rooms. However, this would not be a gentle death, essentially boiling the sister to death in her own bathwater.
Return to place in story.


42.  A false Queen: False identities are common plot devices in literature and fairy tales. Another well-known tale with an imposter queen is The Goose Girl, also annotated on this site.

The false bride plot device "provides the dominant frame story of Basile's firecracker of a collection of fairy tales, Lo cunto de li cunti [also known as Il Pentamerone], in the seventeenth century. His group of female storytellers exchange many tales of substituted brides and false queens, and at the end actually unmask a similar wicked usurper prospering in their midst (Warner 1994, 127).
Return to place in story.


43.  Midnight: Midnight marks the beginning of a new day and the end of power in the old day. Midnight also marks the beginning of the witching hour. Ghosts and other apparitions are thought to be most active in the night time.
Return to place in story.


44.  The real Queen: Do not be confused here--the real Queen is dead, having been murdered by her stepmother and stepsister. Here she appears as a ghost, haunting the halls and drawn to her most precious baby and enchanted brother.
Return to place in story.


45.  Nursed it for some time: Here we have a dead good mother trying to nurture her motherless child. The cycle of the tale is threatening to start again since this child is also cursed with a wicked stepmother. Since it is a baby, it is at greater risk than its own mother was. The natural mother is trying to show it love and protection in the only means left to her.
Return to place in story.


46.  She did not forget the little Roe: The roe is just as important to the sister as her son, for she has essentially parented it, too. She is attempting to fulfill her responsibilities as a parent and sister to her family, even beyond the grave.
Return to place in story.


47.  Sentries: A sentry is "a soldier placed on guard" (Webster's 1990).
Return to place in story.


48.  Is my child well? Is my Roe well?/ I'll come back twice and then farewell: Note another pattern of three here. The ghostly queen only has three visits before she must assumably move onto another plain of existence. We know she must be rescued by the third night or she will disappear forever.
Return to place in story.


49.  I am your dear wife!: Note that while wife has not apparently been as important a role to the sister as that of mother and sister, it is still important enough to bring her back from the dead. She recognizes and responds to this identity.
Return to place in story.


50.  She was restored to life, and was as fresh and well and rosy as ever: Many translations often leave out the phrase "by the grace of God" in this sentence as was included in the Grimms' version and maintained by the more reliable translation offered by Jack Zipes (Zipes 1987, 46). Many translations imply that true love or her innate goodness restore the sister to life.
Return to place in story.


51.  The daughter was led into the forest, where the wild beasts tore her to pieces: The daughter is exiled--cast out into the wild forest--for her treasonous behavior, but she is not burned at the stake for witchcraft like her mother.
Return to place in story.


52.  Burnt at the stake: Burning occurs often in fairy tales. It is symbolic of purification (Matthews 1986). The witch being burnt can also represent evil destroying itself (Luthi 1976).

Gerhard Mueller, who has studied the criminological aspects of several tales, considers the death by fire to be suitable for the witch. In the Middle Ages, the charge of witchcraft was punished by fire. In other words, the witch's demise supports the due process of law in real life during the time of the tale (Mueller 1986).
Return to place in story.


53.  He was restored to his natural shape: In folklore, witch's spells are often deactivated by the witch's demise. Unlike the sister in Six Swans, this sister did not have to endure a described test to achieve her brother's disenchantment.

In Afanasyev's Russian variant of the tale, the brother is never disenchanted. He continues to live as a kid with his sister and her husband happily ever after, however. It is the most unsatisfying ending of all the variants.
Return to place in story.


0
0