If you’re a parent who loves reading fairy tales to their kids, you might be surprised to learn that the stories aren’t always as wholesome as you think. In fact, many of these original versions can actually be quite gruesome and disturbing.
Some of these tales are so disturbing that they would make you want to keep your children away from them altogether. And while most of the ones we know and love today were cleaned up and rewritten to be safe for children, there are still a few tales that don’t get as much sanitization as they should.
1. Little Red Riding Hood (and Her Wolf)
The Brothers Grimm rewrote this story from a French version of the fairy tale included in Charles Perrault’s 1697 collection Stories or Fairy Tales from Past Times: Tales of Mother Goose, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been around for quite some time. In fact, in the old days, this particular story was pretty common – and the women who were caught stealing from their husbands often ended up with no happy ending at all.
2. The Ugly Duckling (and His Swans)
The ‘Ugly Duckling’ is a tale that’s often told to kids, but the original version by Hans Christian Andersen wasn’t as sanitized as we might think. In the ‘original,’ the duckling doesn’t simply transform into a swan, but he’s also bullied by other swans and forced to live in the woods, where he’s subjected to all sorts of cruel treatment.
3. The Robber Bridegroom (and His Frog)
A German fairy tale, this story is closely linked to ‘Bluebeard’ and features an unnerving man who’s promised his bride a marriage of deception. The groom bids her to come to his dark and secluded home, but she leaves a trail of lentils in her wake so that she may find it.
4. Rumpelstiltskin and the Golden Spindle
This traditional fairy tale is a twisted retelling of the old straw into a gold’ tale. It’s the original version of the story, but it was later twisted by the original author to be even more gory and disturbing.
5. Rapunzel and Her Prince
This tale has been sanitized to be slightly palatable for kids. But the ‘original’ of this story is much more gruesome than you might expect, particularly in the ‘Giambattista Basile’s 17th-century version of it. In the original, Rapunzel lets down her hair to a prince and ends up pregnant.
6. The Goose Girl
One of the first tales compiled by the Brothers Grimm, this story has been told for a long time. Originally, it was meant for adults, but the brothers sanitized it to be more suitable for young kids. The modern version of the story doesn’t include all of the horrors of the original, but it does have a creepy twist that has kids cringing in fear every time they read it.