Fantastical Reimaginings: Rumpelstiltskin 

Fantastical Reimaginings
Fantastical Reimaginings: "Rumpelstiltskin"
by Tess J.

Rumpelstiltskin 
Image from GoodReads

History
I mistakenly thought that Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, known as the Brothers Grimm, had invented the story of Rumpelstiltskin but it predates them by hundreds of years! The earliest version of the tale to be found on record is Johann Fischart’s adaptation of Francois Rabelais’ French story. Fischart did a play-on-words when he renamed the tale “Rumpele stilt oder der Poppart.”. In Old German, “rumpeln” translates to “make a noise” and “stilzer” translate to “a man with a limp”. Lastly, a “poppart” means “goblin.” Overtime, the story has been rewritten many times until the name became Rumpelstiltskin in the U.S. and Germany. In other countries the same character is known as Titeliture, Batzibitzili, Panzimanzi, Whuppity Stoorie and Tom Tit Tot.
The Brothers Grimm gathered four renditions of Rumpelstiltskin and combined them into what is today’s most famous version of the tale.

The Original
A king is in search of a beautiful, rich wife. The miller proclaims that his daughter is the most beautiful in the town and can also spin gold from straw. The king demands that the miller bring his daughter to the palace and he takes the daughter to a room filled with straw, a spinning wheel and spindle. The greedy king threatens to kill her if she cannot spin the straw into gold by morning. 
Distressed, the daughter begins to weep. Suddenly, a small man appears in the room. He says he hates to see her crying so he will help in exchange for her necklace. She agrees and he spins all the straw into gold by morning. When the king comes in, he is ecstatic and takes her to a bigger room with even more straw. He threatens the same as the night before and leaves her there. Once more, the little man returns when the miller’s daughter begins to sob. This time she gives him her mother’s ring in exchange for his help turning the straw into gold. 
In the morning, the king returns to mounds of gold. He takes the miller’s daughter to an even larger room and promises to marry her if she can perform the miracle once more. The little man appears again but this time demands that she promise to give him her firstborn child for his help. She agrees because she couldn’t imagine even getting out of the room alive without the little man. Once more, he spins all the straw into gold.
The king marries the miller’s daughter and a year later she gives birth to a son. The little man returns, expecting to have the baby handed over. The queen refuses. She begins to cry again, which he cannot stand, so he allows her three days in order to guess his name. If she guesses correctly, he will not take her son. 
On the first day, she reals off every name she has every heard of. On the second day, she has a messenger give her a list of unusual names. All are wrong. Before the third day, the messenger is able to find the little man’s hut and hears a song from inside: 
“Tomorrow I brew, today I bake,
Soon the child is mine to take.
Oh what luck to win this game,
Rumpelstiltskin is my name!”
And so the queen is able to guess the little man’s name. He is so angry that he lost the game that he tears himself in half... and that is the end of the tale!

"Rumpelstiltskin" Retellings

Shelley Duval's Fairy Tail Theatre
Image from IMDB
Shelley Duvall’s “Fairy Tale Theatre”

This was probably my first experience with the story of Rumpelstiltskin. Shelley Duvall hosted and performed in the television series called “Fairy Tale Theatre” and the second episode of the second season she played the role of the miller’s daughter/queen in Rumpelstiltskin. This version of the tale is almost exactly the same as the Brother’s Grimm edition. There are few additional characters, such as the king’s wizard advisor and the scenes are a more drawn out with more dialogue. Yet all the details are the same, down to the names the queen guesses during her three day trial. 

Spinning Silver
Image from Amazon
"Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik
Available via OverDrive and curbside pickup

“Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik is an adult retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. The recognizable tale of Rumpelstiltskin takes place within the first quarter of the novel; the rest the story is filled with Russian mythology and Jewish culture. Within the first quarter of the book, Marina takes over her father’s duties as money-lender and becomes so good at it that she is able to earn more than she makes just from money-lending interest. She accepts material goods to pay down debt and sells those goods at market for double their worth. In this way, she turns silver into gold. One night, on the way home from market, Marina brags about this talent not realizing the Winter King was listening. Under threat, he forces her to turn three bags of silver into gold. She does this by making a deal with the blacksmith, who is able to forge the melted silver into beautiful jewelry, which Marina then sells for gold. This satisfies the Winter King, who will not reveal his name, to remove the threat he had made but he takes Marina to his winter kingdom and the story continues from there, no longer resembling "Rumpelstiltskin". I greatly enjoyed this twisted fairy tale. 

Spin
Image from Amazon
“Spin: the Rumpelstiltskin Musical” 
Available on hoopla digital

This is a very silly, musical adaptation of Rumpelstiltskin. The town is very poor and lowly. The king is weak and bullied by his two step-sisters. Rumpelstiltskin is not a villain but a lonely, tricky creature that longs for friendship. One day, the miller sings boastfully that his daughter, Jane, can turn straw into gold. The king’s step-sisters hear of it, brings the miller and Jane to the castle and locks her away to spin. She cannot and Rumpelstiltskin, who heard everything, comes to her rescue. The story is similar in that Jane offers Rumpelstiltskin her necklace, then her ring. On the third night, the King finally puts a stop to his step-sisters' greed and tells Jane she only need to spin one more time. Rumpelstiltskin asks for her firstborn child and she agrees thinking she’ll never have a baby anyway.
The king professes his love to Jane after the third day of spinning, they marry, the kingdom becomes prosperous, and the step-sisters calm down. Everyone is happy until Jane has a baby boy and Rumpelstiltskin comes to collect him. Again, the story plays out similar to the original. Jane must guess his name in order to keep her son. Everyone goes out collecting names but the jester wanders into the woods and overhears Rumpelstiltskin singing about his name. The jester returns to the queen and tells her what he heard. She guesses his name correctly and the fact that Rumpelstiltskin only wanted a companion is discovered. They embrace him into the fold and he stays at the palace, finally earning himself some friends. 

Resources
“Rumpelstiltskin.” YouTube, uploaded by Lee Miller, 25 August, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar1iWmljRmk

Grimm, J. & Grimm, W. “Rumpelstiltskin”. The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, edited by Maria Tatar, W.W. Norton & Company, 2002, p. 123-130.

Heiner, H.A. (2002) History of Rumpelstiltskin. SurLaLune Fairy Tales. http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/rumpelstiltskin/history.html Retrieved on May 15, 2020.

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org On 10 July, 2020 at 2:34 PM  

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