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Gambling Hansel
Gambling Hansel Märchen

Gambling Hansel - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 8 min

Once upon a time there was a man who did nothing but gamble, and for that reason people never called him anything but Gambling Hansel, and as he never ceased to gamble, he played away his house and all that he had. Now the very day before his creditors were to take his house from him, came the Lord and St. Peter, and asked him to give them shelter for the night. Then Gambling Hansel said, „For my part, you may stay the night, but I cannot give you a bed or anything to eat.“ So the Lord said he was just to take them in, and they themselves would buy something to eat, to which Gambling Hansel made no objection. Thereupon St. Peter gave him three groschen, and said he was to go to the baker’s and fetch some bread. So Gambling Hansel went, but when he reached the house where the other gambling vagabonds were gathered together, they, although they had won all that he had, greeted him clamorously, and said, „Hansel, do come in.“ – „Oh,“ said he, „do you want to win the three groschen too?“ On this they would not let him go. So he went in, and played away the three groschen also. Meanwhile St. Peter and the Lord were waiting, and as he was so long in coming, they set out to meet him.

When Gambling Hansel came, however, he pretended that the money had fallen into the gutter, and kept raking about in it all the while to find it, but our Lord already knew that he had lost it in play. St. Peter again gave him three groschen, and now he did not allow himself to be led away once more, but fetched them the loaf. Our Lord then inquired if he had no wine, and he said, „Alack, sir, the casks are all empty!“ But the Lord said he was to go down into the cellar, for the best wine was still there. For a long time he would not believe this, but at length he said, „Well, I will go down, but I know that there is none there.“ When he turned the tap, however, lo and behold, the best of wine ran out! So he took it to them, and the two passed the night there. Early next day our Lord told Gambling Hansel that he might beg three favours. The Lord expected that he would ask to go to Heaven; but Gambling Hansel asked for a pack of cards with which he could win everything, for dice with which he would win everything, and for a tree whereon every kind of fruit would grow, and from which no one who had climbed up, could descend until he bade him do so. The Lord gave him all that he had asked, and departed with St. Peter.
And now Gambling Hansel at once set about gambling in real earnest, and before long he had gained half the world. Upon this St. Peter said to the Lord, „Lord, this thing must not go on, he will win, and thou lose, the whole world. We must send Death to him.“ When Death appeared, Gambling Hansel had just seated himself at the gaming-table, and Death said, „Hansel, come out a while.“ But Gambling Hansel said, „Just wait a little until the game is done, and in the meantime get up into that tree out there, and gather a little fruit that we may have something to munch on our way.“ Thereupon Death climbed up, but when he wanted to come down again, he could not, and Gambling Hansel left him up there for seven years, during which time no one died.

So St. Peter said to the Lord, „Lord, this thing must not go on. People no longer die. We must go ourselves.“ And they went themselves, and the Lord commanded Hansel to let Death come down. So Hansel went at once to Death and said to him, „Come down,“ and Death took him directly and put an end to him. They went away together and came to the next world, and then Gambling Hansel made straight for the door of Heaven, and knocked at it. „Who is there?“ – „Gambling Hansel.“ – „Ah, we will have nothing to do with him! Begone!“ So he went to the door of Purgatory, and knocked once more. „Who is there?“ – „Gambling Hansel.“ – „Ah, there is quite enough weeping and wailing here without him. We do not want to gamble, just go away again.“ Then he went to the door of Hell, and there they let him in.

There was, however, no one at home but old Lucifer and the crooked devils who had just been doing their evil work in the world. And no sooner was Hansel there than he sat down to gamble again. Lucifer, however, had nothing to lose, but his mis-shapen devils, and Gambling Hansel won them from him, as with his cards he could not fail to do. And now he was off again with his crooked devils, and they went to Hohenfuert and pulled up a hop-pole, and with it went to Heaven and began to thrust the pole against it, and Heaven began to crack. So again St. Peter said, „Lord, this thing cannot go on, we must let him in, or he will throw us down from Heaven.“ And they let him in. But Gambling Hansel instantly began to play again, and there was such a noise and confusion that there was no hearing what they themselves were saying. Therefore St. Peter once more said, „Lord, this cannot go on, we must throw him down, or he will make all Heaven rebellious.“ So they went to him at once, and threw him down, and his soul broke into fragments, and went into the gambling vagabonds who are living this very day.

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Backgrounds to fairy tale „Gambling Hansel“

„Gambling Hansel,“ also known as „Hans mein Igel“ or „Hans My Hedgehog,“ is another German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their work „Grimms‘ Fairy Tales“ (Kinder- und Hausmärchen). First published in 1812, the story has been passed down through generations and has become a part of European folklore.

As with other tales in the collection, „Gambling Hansel“ can be traced back to oral storytelling traditions across Europe. The Brothers Grimm aimed to preserve these tales by collecting and documenting them, as they believed that these stories were important for understanding and maintaining cultural heritage.

The story of „Gambling Hansel“ tells of a young man named Hans, who is born as a hedgehog from the waist up. He is shunned by his family and villagers, so he leaves home and starts a new life. Eventually, he becomes wealthy and powerful, earning his fortune through gambling. Hans then marries a princess who eventually breaks the spell that turned him into a hedgehog, and they live happily ever after.

The tale of „Gambling Hansel“ can be seen as a narrative about overcoming adversity, finding acceptance, and the transformative power of love. It also touches upon themes of personal identity, self-acceptance, and the importance of perseverance in the face of challenges.

In summary, „Gambling Hansel“ is a classic fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm with roots in European oral storytelling traditions. The story imparts lessons about overcoming adversity, love, and personal identity while showcasing the Brothers Grimm’s dedication to preserving cultural heritage through the collection and documentation of folktales.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Gambling Hansel“

„Gambling Hansel,“ also known as „Hans My Hedgehog,“ offers several interpretations that touch upon various themes and morals. Here are some common interpretations of the fairy tale:

Overcoming adversity and personal transformation: Hans faces many challenges due to his hedgehog-like appearance. Despite his hardships, he perseveres, builds a life for himself, and eventually transforms back into a human. This can be interpreted as a lesson in resilience, personal growth, and the ability to overcome adversity.

The power of love and acceptance: The story highlights the transformative power of love and acceptance. When the princess marries Hans and accepts him for who he is, the spell is broken, and Hans becomes human again. This interpretation suggests that love and acceptance can bring about positive change in a person’s life.

Inner worth and self-acceptance: Hans’s journey can be seen as a metaphor for self-discovery and learning to accept oneself. Despite his outward appearance, Hans has a good heart and proves his worth through his actions. The tale can be interpreted as a message about the importance of recognizing one’s own inner value and accepting oneself, regardless of external appearances.

Consequences of greed and desires: The story begins with a man who desperately wants a child, even if it’s a hedgehog. This desire leads to the birth of Hans, and the man’s subsequent regret can be seen as a cautionary tale about the consequences of unchecked desires and the potential ramifications of greed.

Outsider’s journey to acceptance: Hans’s story is one of an outsider who, despite being shunned by society, eventually finds acceptance and love. The tale can be interpreted as an encouragement for individuals who feel like outsiders to continue seeking their place in the world, as well as a reminder for society to be more accepting of those who may be different.

In summary, „Gambling Hansel“ or „Hans My Hedgehog“ offers various interpretations that touch on themes such as overcoming adversity, the power of love and acceptance, self-worth, and the consequences of greed. These messages provide valuable insights into human nature and the importance of resilience, self-acceptance, and compassion.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Gambling Hansel“

It is important to note that „Gambling Hansel“ and „Hans My Hedgehog“ are two different stories from the Brothers Grimm collection. In your previous question, the background provided was for „Hans My Hedgehog.“ It seems there has been confusion between these two distinct tales. Here, I will provide adaptations for both stories.

„Gambling Hansel“:

As „Gambling Hansel“ is a lesser-known Brothers Grimm tale, there are fewer adaptations of this specific story. However, some adaptations can still be found:

Audio Adaptations: „Gambling Hansel“ has been adapted into audiobooks, often as part of a collection of Brothers Grimm stories. These audiobooks narrate the tale, sometimes with sound effects and music to enhance the listening experience.

„Hans My Hedgehog“:

„Hans My Hedgehog“ has been adapted into various formats, including literature, film, and television:

Illustrated Children’s Books: There are numerous illustrated children’s books that retell the story of „Hans My Hedgehog.“ These adaptations typically feature vivid illustrations and simplified text for young readers. Examples include „Hans My Hedgehog: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm“ retold by Kate Coombs and illustrated by John Nickle, and „Hans My Hedgehog“ by Lucy Cousins.

Television: The story of „Hans My Hedgehog“ has been adapted into television episodes in series dedicated to fairy tales, such as „Jim Henson’s The Storyteller“ (1988). In this series, the episode titled „Hans My Hedgehog“ retells the story using a mix of live-action and puppetry, bringing the tale to life for a new generation of viewers.

Short Films: „Hans My Hedgehog“ has been adapted into short films, such as the 1975 East German stop-motion animated film „Hans im Glück“ directed by Günter Rätz.

These adaptations showcase the lasting appeal of both „Gambling Hansel“ and „Hans My Hedgehog“ from the Brothers Grimm collection. While „Gambling Hansel“ remains relatively obscure, „Hans My Hedgehog“ has been adapted into various formats that continue to captivate audiences and preserve the important themes and lessons found within the story.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Gambling Hansel“

The fairy tale „Gambling Hansel“ from Brothers Grimm has been adapted into various forms over the years, including:

Children’s books: Several children’s books have been published based on the story of „Gambling Hansel.“ These books often simplify the original tale and include colorful illustrations.

Plays and musicals: „Gambling Hansel“ has also been adapted into plays and musicals for both children and adults. These adaptations often add new characters or subplots to the original story.

Animated films: The story has been adapted into several animated films, including a Soviet film titled „Hans in Luck“ and a German film titled „Hans im Glück.“

Video games: „Gambling Hansel“ has been adapted into several video games, including a mobile game titled „Hans in Luck“ and a PC game titled „Lucky Hans.“

Variations in other media: The story has been adapted and referenced in various other media, such as in the novel „American Gods“ by Neil Gaiman, where the character Shadow tells a version of the story to a child.

Overall, „Gambling Hansel“ has been adapted into various forms of media and has remained a popular tale for children and adults alike.

Summary of the plot

„Gambling Hansel“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm that tells the story of a man named Hansel, who has a penchant for gambling. The tale follows his journey as he makes deals with various supernatural beings and ultimately faces the consequences of his actions.

The story begins with Hansel, who enjoys gambling and is quite skilled at it. As he plays, he earns the attention of the devil, who challenges him to a game. Hansel agrees to play with the devil and, to his surprise, wins the game. Impressed, the devil gives him a magical coat that allows him to fulfill his every wish.

Hansel uses the coat to acquire great wealth and live a life of luxury. However, he never loses his love for gambling, and his wealth only fuels his addiction. He continues to gamble with supernatural beings, making more and more deals as he goes.

One day, Hansel encounters Death and challenges him to a game as well. Despite the high stakes, Hansel wins the game and manages to cheat Death. As a result, Hansel becomes immortal, as Death is unable to take him when his time comes.

While at first, immortality seems like a blessing, Hansel soon realizes that he has become weary of his eternal existence. As he watches those around him age and pass away, he starts to long for the peace that death brings. He begins to regret his actions and the deals he made, understanding the true cost of his gambling addiction.

In the end, Hansel realizes that his gambling has led him to a life of misery and loneliness. The tale serves as a cautionary story about the dangers of addiction, as well as the importance of understanding the consequences of one’s actions.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „Gambling Hansel“

„Gambling Hansel“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, who were German academics, linguists, and authors. They were prominent figures in the 19th-century European folklore movement and are best known for their collection of fairy tales titled „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“ (Children’s and Household Tales), first published in 1812. The collection went through multiple editions and revisions, with the seventh and final edition being published in 1857.

The Brothers Grimm aimed to preserve traditional stories that were primarily passed down orally, collecting them from various sources, including friends, family, and written works. Their collection of fairy tales includes stories with origins in different European cultures and time periods, ranging from ancient myths to contemporary legends. The tales were often rewritten and adapted by the Grimms to reflect the values and sensibilities of their time.

„Gambling Hansel“ is an example of a fairy tale that incorporates themes of morality, divine intervention, and the consequences of one’s actions. It reflects the cultural and social values of its time, with an emphasis on the importance of self-control, resisting temptation, and seeking redemption. The tale also showcases the Brothers Grimm’s interest in exploring the darker aspects of human nature, which is a recurring theme throughout their collection of fairy tales.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Gambling Hansel“

„Gambling Hansel“ offers several interpretations and moral lessons:

The dangers of addiction: The story highlights the negative consequences of gambling addiction, as Hansel loses everything he has, including his chance for redemption in the afterlife. His constant desire for gambling leads to chaos and destruction, emphasizing the importance of moderation and self-control.

The power of temptation: The tale serves as a cautionary message about the power of temptation and the importance of resisting it. Hansel’s inability to resist gambling leads him down a destructive path, affecting not only himself but also those around him.

The consequences of selfishness: Hansel’s wishes are focused on his own personal gain rather than the well-being of others. This selfishness leads to suffering for both himself and others, suggesting that selflessness and concern for others are important virtues.

The importance of redemption and forgiveness: The story illustrates the potential for redemption and forgiveness, even for those who have made grave mistakes. When Hansel is finally allowed into Heaven, it shows that people can change and find forgiveness if given the chance. However, Hansel’s inability to change his ways ultimately leads to his downfall.

The role of divine intervention: Throughout the story, the Lord and St. Peter repeatedly attempt to guide Hansel towards a better path. This can be interpreted as a reminder that there is a higher power watching over humanity and trying to help people make the right choices.

In summary, „Gambling Hansel“ serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of addiction, temptation, and selfishness, while also highlighting the importance of redemption, forgiveness, and divine guidance.

Summary of the plot

„Gambling Hansel“ is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm that tells the story of a man known as Gambling Hansel, who loses everything he has to gambling. One day, the Lord and St. Peter seek shelter at his house, and despite having nothing to offer them, they stay the night. St. Peter gives Hansel money to buy bread, but he gambles it away. Eventually, Hansel fetches bread and wine, and the Lord grants him three wishes. Instead of asking for salvation, Hansel wishes for a magical pack of cards, enchanted dice, and a tree that traps anyone who climbs it until he allows them to descend.

With these items, Hansel gambles and wins half the world. To stop him, the Lord sends Death, but Hansel tricks Death into climbing the tree and traps him for seven years, during which no one dies. The Lord and St. Peter then force Hansel to release Death, who promptly kills him. In the afterlife, Hansel is denied entry to Heaven and Purgatory, so he enters Hell and gambles with Lucifer. He wins all the crooked devils and uses them to threaten Heaven.

St. Peter and the Lord finally let Hansel into Heaven, but his gambling causes chaos. They decide to throw him out, and his soul shatters into fragments, entering the bodies of gambling vagabonds who continue to exist in the world.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
NumberKHM 82
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 330A
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH
Readability Index by Björnsson26
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index84.5
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level5.5
Gunning Fog Index7.9
Coleman–Liau Index7.5
SMOG Index7.6
Automated Readability Index5.4
Character Count5.098
Letter Count3.893
Sentence Count60
Word Count984
Average Words per Sentence16,40
Words with more than 6 letters94
Percentage of long words9.6%
Number of Syllables1.229
Average Syllables per Word1,25
Words with three Syllables35
Percentage Words with three Syllables3.6%
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