Today I’ll introduce you to yet another Grimm’s fairy tale, The Goose Girl, first published in 1815.
What’s It About?
A young princess is being sent to a neighboring kingdom by her widowed mother to marry the prince there. She leaves with her maid and her magical horse, Falada. Along the way, the princess loses the magical handkerchief her mother gave her to protect her. The maid sees and forces the princess to switch places with her, making her promise to never tell under threat of death. The princess agrees and the maid rides Falada to the city wearing the princess’s clothes, leaving the princess to find her own way to the city. When the real princess finally arrives, the king sees her and takes pity on her, giving her a job helping the goose boy, Conrad. The fake princess has Falada killed, worried that the magical horse will reveal her secret. The horse’s head is mounted on the wall. The real princess passes by the head every day on her way to and speaks to it. One day, the king overhears their conversation. He asks the real princess to tell him her troubles, but she says that she can tell no person what has happened. He leaves her, suggesting that she tell her woes to a nearby stove. She does, not realizing that the king was eavesdropping. The king is outraged to find that a maid has been parading as a princess, but instead of exposing her right away, he sets a trap. He asks the fake princess various questions about justice, finally asking what should be done to a woman who pretends to be a princess. She responds that the pretender should be put in barrel, naked, and pulled through the streets by horses until she is killed. Then the king reveals the true princess and sentences the fake princess to the punishment she herself described. The real princess marries the prince and they live happily ever after.
Fun Fact #1
The princess appears to have a talent for speaking to things; she talks to her horse (and the dead horse’s head), the magical handkerchief from her mother, the wind, and a stove. And funnily enough, all but the last thing speak back. Luckily, in fairy tales, we can just call that magic instead of craziness.
Fun Fact #2
I was just rereading the summary, and apparently the princess climbed into the stove to tell it about her problems. Seems like a little bit of an over-reaction.
Fun Fact #3
While being a goose girl, the princess liked to comb her hair. After Conrad, the goose boy, tried to take a few locks of her beautiful hair, she asked the wind to blow his hat away. He ended up chasing his hat for as long as she combed her hair.
If You’re Interested…
Check out Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl. Magic is a little more prominent, and the idea of a person being able to speak to animals or the wind is a little more normal.
Comment below with any fairy tales you’d like to see me cover here!
Until next time, fellow wonderers!