5 Famous Fairy Tales and Their Disturbing Origins

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5 Famous Fairy Tales and Their Disturbing Origins


Fairy tales were one of our favorite stories to read, listen to, or watch when we were children. From fantastical stories about witches, fairies, goblins, and elves to the adventures of heroic princes and their journey to save damsels in distress, fairy tales have become the stuff of our childhood dreams and a well of resources for movie companies like Disney that have made these stories box-office success with their stories between good and evil and their inevitable feel-good ending where everyone lived happily ever after.

Thus, it will come as a shock for many when they learn that these stories, normally believed as child-friendly tales, actually have a darker side to them. 


A Cinderella actress / Photo by: mydisneyadventures via Wikimedia Commons



The first "Cinderella" tale by the Grimm brothers was published in the 1800s. Disney's version told the same tale of Cinderella—a poor but beautiful young girl, who was forced to serve her evil stepmother and stepsisters, but with the help of a fairy godmother, managed to attend the ball where she met her Prince Charming. After making a romantic connection with the prince, Cinderella abruptly made her exit and all the prince was left with was her glass slipper. This prompted the prince to search the whole kingdom until he found the right maiden on which the shoe fit. 

In the original version, though, it's not exactly for general patronage, as one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, seeing that her foot wouldn’t fit in the glass slipper, decided to cut her entire heel off. The second stepsister, on the other hand, had her toe cut off. The blood in the slipper eventually gave the sisters away and the prince was finally reunited with Cinderella. 



Sleeping Beauty painting / Photo by: Sebastian Nizan via Wikimedia Commons


Sleeping Beauty

Thanks again to Disney, we got to know of a beautiful sleeping princess, who can only be awakened by true love's first kiss. However, in its raw version, this fairy tale actually raised a lot of red flags. The wandering prince had come across the beautiful sleeping princess and was so captivated by her beauty that he sexually assaulted her in her sleep. Eventually, the princess awoke after giving birth to twins, and the prince nowhere to be found.




Little Red Riding Hood / Photo by: ivanovgood via Pixabay


Little Red Riding Hood

There are many versions of this beloved classic tale. Most of them usually end up a happily ever after, with the girl and grandmother being saved by a woodcutter after being eaten by the wolf. The original story, however, had it that after finding out that after the wolf replied, "All the better to eat you with," it then ate the girl and the story ended. There is also another version on which literature experts speculated that Little Red Riding Hood purposely left the door unlocked so that the wolf can eat her grandmother and then proceeded to call the woodsman to kill the wolf, leaving her with a large estate in the country and left to handle grandma's inheritance.



Snow White illustration / Photo by: 455992 via Pixabay


Snow White

In the Disney version, an evil queen became threatened by Snow White's beauty that she ordered a huntsman to kill her. Not having the heart to do so, the huntsman told the princess to run away from the queen. He then presented the queen with a boar’s heart as “proof” that he had killed the princess. Of course, the queen discovered the truth the Snow White still lived that she decided to kill her herself by disguising herself as an old woman and giving the princess a poisoned apple.

With a kiss from a prince who was passing by, Snow White was revived and they lived happily ever after. The original story practically followed a similar line, but the evil queen attended Snow White's wedding. Fed up with her wanting to kill Snow White, the prince had the evil queen put on iron-hot shoes and dance until she literally dropped dead to serve as "entertainment" for their wedding.

Other obscure versions depicted Snow White facing sexual degradation in the hands of the seven dwarves who enslaved her. There was also a version where the king, Snow White's father, became so enamored with his daughter's beauty that it turned into an unhealthy obsession — the main reason why the princess fled from the castle in the first place.



The Little Mermaid ride at Disneyland / Photo by: HarshLight via Flickr


The Little Mermaid

Most likely, we know of Ariel, the mermaid princess who fell in love with a human prince. Against her father’s wish, she turned into a human to be with her love. She, of course, had to overcome a curse so she could live happily ever after as a human with her prince.

In Hans Christian Andersen's version, things were a little dark since a mermaid could only get an immortal soul if a man fell madly in love with her. Soon enough, she became devoted to the prince, but sadly, he just couldn't feel the same way since he's in love with another. The mermaid failed, but luckily, she was granted a soul from the daughters of the air, deities who floated around and did good deeds. Seeing that the mermaid was pure, they decided to take her with them.




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