According to Collins Dictionary, a fairy tale is a children’s story involving magical events and imaginary creatures. They all tend to have a hero and villain and usually concludes with a happily ever after. Unbeknownst to some, many of the fairy tales that we know and love were far from happily ever after. Some of these tales take twisted turns that make you wonder why they were ever marketed towards children. We’ve read of evil queens and jealous stepmothers, but do you know the depth of their alarming behavior? We should warn you that this is no Disney movie. Here’s a list of some of the creepiest women in classic fairy tales.
1. The Wicked Stepmother (Cinderella)
Most film adaptations of Cinderella tell the story of a young girl mistreated by her stepmother who then meets and marries a prince. While that is the main premise, the movies fail to go into detail about just how bad Cindi’s stepmother is. Not only does she tell Cinderella to pick up lentils thrown into a fireplace in order for her to attend the ball, but she even nicknamed her “Ashfool” because she had her to sleep among ashes. If that wasn’t dark enough, in the Brothers Grimm version, she had her daughters tailor (for lack of a nicer word) their feet so that they could fit into Cinderella’s glass slippers.
2. The Sea Witch (The Little Mermaid)
There are a few scenes of Disney’s The Little Mermaid that align with Hans Christian Andersen’s version, but the latter is a tad bit darker. Everything lines up until the sea witch takes her tongue, not voice, in exchange for legs. In addition to the mermaid princess not being able to taste and eat her food properly, the sea witch added a few clauses to ensure the young mermaid’s demise. Walking on her new legs were likened to walking on thorns and the price for failing to marry the prince was her own death. The little mermaid didn’t succeed and rather than ending her prince’s life, which would turn her back into a mermaid, she threw herself into the ocean where she turned into sea foam.
3. The Evil Witch (Rapunzel)
Rapunzel was wronged by many people but it’s best to start from the beginning. Her father agreed to give away his first-born child in exchange for stolen fruit. Once she was born, Rapunzel was taken away and locked in a castle by the evil witch who uses Rapunzel’s hair as her personal ladder. According to the original story, she one day meets a prince who she falls for. The two, now expecting a baby, face tragedy when the prince is blinded by a thorny bush. Rapunze,l who is now pregnant, homeless and partially bald (thanks to her former captor) gives birth to twins and is subsequently reunited with her love when he hears her voice. His sight was restored by her tears, and they lived happily ever after, thankfully.
4. Evil Red (Little Red Riding Hood)
Most versions of Little Red Riding Hood portray the young girl as a victim who not only loses her grandmother, but also as a child who narrowly escapes the jaws of death. But earlier versions of the story say that there is something sinister going on underneath that cape. According to one, Red befriends the wolf and allows him to eat her grandmother in order to inherit her property. She then turns on the wolf, ensuring that there are no witnesses. Another version says that Red mistook her grandmother for food and ate her right before she was eaten herself.
5. The Cannibal Witch (Hansel and Gretel)
The tale of Hansel and Gretel was already the stuff of nightmares as it featured themes of starvation and so much more. The original story is said to be based on the Great Famine of 1314 to 1322 where people were so hungry that they either ate their own young or abandoned them so that others could live. With such a tragic event as inspiration, it should come as a surprise that the story is banned in many countries. Earlier versions of the story tell that the stepmother was actually the children’s real mother and that the witch’s gingerbread was a figment of their imagination.
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