Abandoned in the woods

Hansel and Gretel is a fairytale of German origin which was first published by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the early nineteenth century. The story is set during a famine, and tells readers about two little children named Hansel and Gretel who live with their father, a poor wood cutter and their cruel mother. In the Grimm’s version, the wood cutter’s wife is the children’s biological mother. But in later versions of the fairy tale, the wife is the children’s step mother. The children’s mother or step mother influences their father to abandon the children in the woods.

Hansel and Gretel find their way back home after they are abandoned in the woods for the first time. But the second time they are abandoned, they are lost deep in the woods. Hansel and Gretel are lured by an evil witch into a house made of cakes, gingerbread and chocolates. The witch puts Hansel in a cage and plans to eat both children. But Gretel tricks the witch and kills her and rescues Hansel.

Critics have interpreted the witch and the mother or stepmother as symbolizing the same woman. Although Hansel and Gretel is a fairy tale for children, it examines adult themes such as surviving in a harsh world and overcoming adversity.

Reviewed by Ryhanna Salie 

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