Through the years, the fairy tales we tell and learn in our childhood have changed drastically.
We think that the horror and violence we see today are because of the present times.
But who’d have thought that the fairy tales that are meant for children, having no idea of what violence and horror, have their origins as the most gruesome fictions of history involving children and written for children?
So here are the most disturbing origins of some of our modern-day fairy tales.
Most Disturbing Original Fairy Tales
In the classic story first published in around 1634 by Giambattista Basile as Sun, Moon, and Talia, the princess does not prick her finger on a spindle but rather gets a sliver of flax stuck under her fingernail.
She falls down, apparently dead, but her father cannot face the idea of losing her, so he lays her body on her bed. Later, a king out hunting in the woods finds her.
He falls in love with her coma-induced body and then rapes her while she’s unconscious. After doing this, heads home to his country.
Sometime after that, still unconscious, she gives birth to two children, and one of them accidentally sucks the splinter out of her finger, so she wakes up.
The king who raped her is already married, but he burns his wife alive so he and Talia can be together. If it’s any consolation, the wife tries to kill and eat the babies first.
Of course, you burn alive a woman like that. Duh!
Little Red Riding Hood
If you can believe it, the Brothers Grimm (the original masters of most of these fairy tales, praise the lord, finally found some history that won’t make me doze off) actually made this story a lot nicer than it was when they got their hands on it.
In Charles Perrault’s version, included in his 1697 collection Stories or Fairy Tales from Past Times: Tales of Mother Goose, there is no huntsman.
Little Red simply strips naked, gets in bed, and then dies, eaten up by the big bad wolf, with no miraculous relief (in another luckier version, she eats her own grandmother first, her flesh cooked up and her blood poured into a wine glass by our wolfish friend).
Perrault gives us a little rhyming verse reminding us that not all wolves are wild beasts — some seduce with gentleness, sneak into our beds, and get us there.
The sexual undertones are not lost on us — after all, the contemporary French idiom for a girl having lost her virginity was elle avoit vû le loup — she has seen the wolf.
Here, Perrault is much nicer than Grimm — in his version, the two cruel stepsisters get married off to members of the royal court after Cinderella is properly married to the prince.
In the Grimm story, the first stepsister cuts off her big toe and the second one cuts off the ankle in order to fit into the glass slippers (hey girls, you forgot the something, the blood pouring out of those parts).
In the end, they have their eyes pecked out by doves. Now I just feel bad for them.
First of all, in the original 1812 Grimm version of this tale, the evil Queen is Snow White’s actual mother, not her stepmother which makes it a lot more terrifying to us.
And she tries to kill Snow White three times, succeeding the third time.
The Disney version also left out the fact that the Queen sends the huntsman out to bring back Snow White’s liver and lungs, which she then means to eat.
And the fact that she’s actually not in a deep sleep when the prince finds her — she’s dead, and he’s carting off her dead body to play with when his servant trips, drops the coffin, and dislodges the poison apple from SW’s throat.
And that’s not it, when the queen shows up at Snow White’s wedding, she’s forced to step into red hot iron shoes that are forged in the fire, and then dances until she falls down dead.
Hansel and Gretel
What can be more gruesome than the version of the story we already have? But we do.
The version we know of goes like this – the evil stepmother abandons the children to die in the forest, they happen to encounter a cannibalistic witch’s cottage, she fattens them up to eat, they outwit and kill her and escape.
But in an early French version, called The Lost Children, the witch is the Devil, and the Devil wants to bleed the children on a sawhorse.
Of course, they pretend not to know how to get on, so the Devil has his wife (who tried to help the poor kids earlier in the story) show them.
They promptly slit the wife’s throat, steal all the Devil’s money, and run off. Geez, talking about evil kids, this is my favorite.