Today I get to assassinate a children’s book via Ninja Mom Blog and her Character Assassination Carousel series. I’m so excited to shred a beloved children’s tale to pieces. Or as my college literary class would be all like, ‘deconstruct the story’. Sure, I’m deconstructing it. Previous books assassinated on Ninja Mom’s site have been, The Giving Tree, and I’ll Love You Forever and most recently, the blog- What She Said shreds Curious George like never before.
Okay, time to hop on the carousel. Now don’t hog the pretty ponies please. I remember always getting stuck with the yellow dolphin when I wanted the pretty purple horse. Or worse- the bench that the grandparents ride. Buckle up kids- it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
Rumpelstiltskin originally told by Grimm’s Fairy Tales
I used to enjoy this children’s book. My mom would tell me the story of the little man who stomped his foot when he didn’t get his way. She would then use it as a lesson on not to be a little brat and stomp my foot because I might make a hole in the floor and fall in forever to be eaten by an evil witch. I know. Her parenting was effective, wasn’t it?
So naturally, I got this book for my kids. I remember reading this to Emma when she was around 2 or 3. It had been years since I read it. So reading it as a post college graduate- I was surprised at the truly backwards and chauvinist way of thinking of the men in this book. I suppose now that I’m not 4 years old anymore, I see this book for what it really is- a male chauvinist, misogynist tale of greed and anti-feminism.
We start this tale in an idyllic medieval town (kind of an oxymoron right there) with the Miller and his daughter. The Miller is poor and is arrested for stealing a sheep.
Dear God, let’s hope this is not where all frat stories begin. Also, starting a children’s story with stealing is a super duper way of getting your kids to pay attention.
After being reported to the King, the Miller pleads to be released and offers his daughter to the King in exchange for his freedom. Way to go dad. Just swap your guilty ass for your unsuspecting daughter’s freedom.
The King isn’t impressed and says he doesn’t need one more
concubine , (cough) er female in his court. So the Miller freaks out and says, “But wait, she can spin straw in to gold.”
Okay, now he’s just gone too far! We all know this isn’t true. She can’t really spin the straw into gold, but the King doesn’t know this. Where this guy got this idea about spinning straw into gold is beyond me. What a jack ass. Why not say, ‘she bakes the best garlic bread you’ve ever tasted.’ Or, “She can knit a toasty scarf to keep you warm in winter.”
Of course, the King is a greedy bastard and likes this idea of all this gold, so the Miller’s daughter is brought to the castle.
Whoa. Let’s pause right here and review. What an asshat douchebag of a father. He uses his daughter as a pawn to gain his freedom and LIES as well.
So kids, if you’re paying attention- be sure to throw a family member under the bus and lie whenever you get in trouble. This is a great tactic fairy tales will teach you.
So the Miller’s daughter doesn’t protest her father. No. In those days girls didn’t talk back to their dads and roll their eyes texting their friends that they have the worst parents EVER . She obeys her father, and goes along with this crackpot’s hair-brained idea and then is put in a cell with a shit ton of straw and a spinning wheel. Poor thing. I hope she doesn’t have hay fever.
I don’t need to tell you that she was unsuccessful at the gold spinning part. She sat in the corner and cried. Who wouldn’t?
So this little person comes in the cell. I mean, like a dwarf or elf or just someone vertically challenged. They don’t specify. Not sure why he can come in, but she can’t go out. But never mind that detail. If this was a choose your own ending it would go, “And then the Miller’s daughter escaped from the castle and ran to the next village to plot revenge on all the evil male bastards that were out to ruin her life.” But it isn’t a choose your own ending so we’ll just go with the fact that the daughter seeks this little man’s advice and lets him do the work for her.
Oh, but wait- she needs to trade something for his help. This is HUGE. Stay tuned, it’s called F O R E S H A D O W I N G. She gives him the necklace she was wearing, the little man spins the gold and poof, he’s gone.
In comes the King and he’s super stoked for all this gold.
IS he satisfied? NOOOO. Fucker. He keeps the Miller’s daughter in servitude and puts her in a bigger room with more straw. I seriously hope she brought her Claritin or inhaler. I feel so sorry for her. Of course does she admit to not being the one who spun the gold? No. Clearly another lying tactic of all the characters in this book. I still feel sorry for her though.
Oh, and by the way, the King throws in, ‘if you don’t do this, you will die.’ Wow. Talk about someone who is never happy. Not, ‘thank you dear girl, run along, you must miss your family.’ NO.
So let’s review; this story is about stealing, lying, greed and more greed and threatening those with less power than you.
In comes the little man again, to help out the daughter some more. But wait- not until she gives him something. I don’t think she packed her overnight bag so she’s pretty much stuck with what’s on her person.
She gives him a ring this time, and he does the spinning for her.
Blah blah blah, fast forward to the King. No surprise, he’s still not happy with the gold, so he sends her to a bigger room, more straw and again wants her to do his bidding.
This is one of those stories where you want to shake the characters and wring their little necks through the pages. If only someone would tell the truth, speak up, or stop being such a greedy asswipe, people could carry on with their lives.
Not only does the King make her spin more straw this time, but wait for it…. the lucky girl gets to marry the dickwad when she finishes. Yeah, he promises marriage to this, I’m guessing, poor under age minor, if she’ll spin more gold.
In comes little annoying elfin guy to do the spinning for her. But only after she pledges him her first born. I guess she wasn’t wearing anymore jewelry to give him. OH. That makes so much sense. Send this little phantom dwarf guy a precious new born? Maybe she’s hoping she’s barren and assumes this will never happen.
But no, after the wedding, a year later she gives birth to a baby boy. (EW, right there. This means the union was consummated. Gag) And like clockwork, little Mr. Gold Spinner dude comes along, prancing around to get his spoils. In this case- a baby. What in the hell does he want with a baby? Anyway. the Miller’s daughter, who is now the Queen, and must be on huge amounts of Xanax and Prozac for all the anxiety and guilt she is ridden with after knowing she didn’t come by this lifestyle honestly, begs the little man not to take her baby.
He ops into the idea of giving her three days to guess his name. I don’t know why this is such a big deal. Why she didn’t ask his name the very first time he came into help her out way back when, when she was first force to spin gold and he magically appeared, I don’t know. He comes by three times and she’s never asked his name? Bitch.
Okay, she then gets her soldiers to do her work and spy on him to find out what his name is. OH for heaven’s sake!! Does no one in this story work or do ANYTHING for themselves??
I’m getting frustrated…
Oh, wait. Apparently, she DOES do something for herself. She decided to go wandering in the forest by herself and found him doing some satanic worship by a bonfire. He was dancing and jigging in rhymes, which often is the case of sociopathic characters in classic fairy tales. Lucky for her, he included his own name- RUMPELSTILTSKIN in his little ritual. What luck!
Fast forward to the next day when he comes around. She toys with him as if she doesn’t know his name. Then bam- springs it on him and guesses correctly. Well, he is pissed. He goes into this tiny little Tasmanian Devil rage. And stomps his foot in a tantrum. He disappears. Yeah, not sure where he goes. Falls through the floor? Crumples in a pile of dust? Who knows? Who cares? He’s gone. And now the Queen can carry on with her life of guilt and shitty men who treat their women like property. Oh, do I sound bitter?
In the back of the edition of this story that I have, it says that the moral is to never give up and believe in yourself. Somehow, I think I could think of many ways to tell a moral like that without all the greed and chauvinism.
Stay tuned for the next spin on the carousel by You Know it Happens At Your House Too. Enjoy her assassination and her fracturing of a beloved children’s tale.