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Gossip Wolf and the Fox
Grimm Märchen

Gossip Wolf and the Fox - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 3 min

The she-wolf brought forth a young one, and invited the fox to be godfather. „After all, he is a near relative of ours,“ said she, „he has a good understanding, and much talent. He can instruct my little son, and help him forward in the world.“ The fox, too, appeared quite honest, and said, „Worthy Mrs. Gossip, I thank you for the honour which you are doing me. I will, however, conduct myself in such a way that you shall be repaid for it.“ He enjoyed himself at the feast, and made merry; afterwards he said, „Dear Mrs. Gossip, it is our duty to take care of the child, it must have good food that it may be strong. I know a sheep-fold from which we might fetch a nice morsel.“ The wolf was pleased with the ditty, and she went out with the fox to the farm-yard. He pointed out the fold from afar, and said, „You will be able to creep in there without being seen, and in the meantime I will look about on the other side to see if I can pick up a chicken.“ He, however, did not go there, but sat down at the entrance to the forest, stretched his legs and rested. The she-wolf crept into the stable. A dog was lying there, and it made such a noise that the peasants came running out, caught Gossip Wolf, and poured a strong burning mixture, which had been prepared for washing, over her skin. At last she escaped, and dragged herself outside. There lay the fox, who pretended to be full of complaints, and said, „Ah, dear Mistress Gossip, how ill I have fared, the peasants have fallen on me, and have broken every limb I have. If you do not want me to lie where I am and perish, you must carry me away.“ The she-wolf herself was only able to go away slowly, but she was in such concern about the fox that she took him on her back, and slowly carried him perfectly safe and sound to her house. Then the fox cried to her, „Farewell, dear Mistress Gossip, may the roasting you have had do you good,“ laughed heartily at her, and bounded off.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „Gossip wolf and the fox“

„Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their compilation „Children’s and Household Tales“ (Kinder- und Hausmärchen). This humorous and didactic story features animals as the main characters, which is a common motif in fables and folktales.

The plot centers around a cunning fox and a gossiping wolf. The fox, tired of the wolf’s constant gossip, decides to teach the wolf a lesson. He tricks the wolf into believing that a farmer has a large store of food hidden away. The wolf, unable to resist the temptation, goes to the farmer’s house at night to steal the food. However, the fox’s trick leads the wolf into a dangerous trap, and he barely escapes with his life. The story concludes with the wolf learning a valuable lesson about the consequences of indulging in gossip and deceit.

The story of „Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ is rooted in European folklore and has similarities with other folktales featuring animal characters. These stories often convey moral lessons and reflect the values and social dynamics of the time when they were collected. In this case, the story teaches about the dangers of gossip and dishonesty while also offering a humorous and engaging narrative.

Like many other tales in the Brothers Grimm collection, „Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ has likely undergone changes over time as it was retold and passed down through generations. It’s possible that the Brothers Grimm adapted the story from various regional sources, molding it to fit within their collection of German folktales.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Gossip wolf and the fox“

„Gossip Wolf and the Fox,“ a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, offers several moral lessons and interpretations. Here are some possible interpretations of the story:

The dangers of gossip: The tale serves as a cautionary example of the negative consequences of indulging in gossip. The wolf’s eagerness to listen to and spread gossip eventually leads him into a dangerous situation. The story teaches that engaging in gossip can lead to harm, not only for the person being gossiped about but also for the gossipers themselves.

Consequences of dishonesty: The fox’s dishonesty and manipulation also play a significant role in the story, demonstrating the risks associated with deceitful behavior. By tricking the wolf, the fox sets off a chain of events that leads to the wolf’s near-death experience. This highlights the potential dangers that can arise from dishonest actions, even when the intention is to teach someone a lesson.

Temptation and greed: The wolf’s inability to resist the temptation of an easy meal is another central theme in the story. His greed gets the better of him, leading him to take unnecessary risks and eventually suffer the consequences. The tale serves as a reminder that giving in to temptation and acting out of greed can lead to dire outcomes.

Learning from mistakes: Despite the negative consequences of the wolf’s actions, the story ends on a hopeful note, as the wolf learns a valuable lesson from his experience. This interpretation highlights the importance of acknowledging and learning from one’s mistakes to avoid repeating them in the future.

The power dynamics of trickster tales: Like many other folktales featuring trickster characters, „Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ explores the power dynamics between different characters. The cunning fox is able to outsmart the wolf and teach him a lesson, demonstrating that intelligence and wit can sometimes triumph over physical strength or social status.

These interpretations provide various ways to understand the moral lessons and insights conveyed by „Gossip Wolf and the Fox.“ The story serves as a reminder of the dangers of gossip, dishonesty, temptation, and greed, while also emphasizing the importance of learning from one’s mistakes and acknowledging the power of intelligence and wit.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Gossip wolf and the fox“

„Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ is not as well-known or frequently adapted as some other Grimm fairy tales, but it has been retold and adapted in various forms to convey its moral lessons. Here are a few examples:

Children’s literature: The story has been adapted and included in anthologies of Grimm’s fairy tales or collections of animal stories for children. These adaptations often feature simplified language and engaging illustrations to appeal to a younger audience. One example is the book „Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales“ by the Brothers Grimm and Arthur Rackham, which includes an illustrated version of „Gossip Wolf and the Fox.“

Storytelling and oral performances: As a story with moral lessons and engaging animal characters, „Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ lends itself well to oral storytelling. Professional storytellers, educators, and parents may include the tale in their performances or storytime sessions at schools, libraries, and festivals.

Educational materials: Given its moral lessons about the dangers of gossip, dishonesty, and greed, „Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ can be used in educational materials, such as lesson plans and classroom activities. Teachers may use the story to teach moral values and spark discussions about the consequences of such behaviors.

Puppet shows and theater: While there may not be many standalone theatrical adaptations of „Gossip Wolf and the Fox,“ the story can be included in puppet shows or larger theatrical productions that feature multiple fables and fairy tales. The tale’s engaging animal characters and moral lessons make it a suitable choice for performances aimed at children and families.

Although there may not be as many adaptations of „Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ as some other Grimm fairy tales, its themes of gossip, dishonesty, and temptation have made it an appealing story for various forms of retelling. As a result, the tale continues to be adapted and shared with contemporary audiences, helping to keep the story alive and relevant.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Gossip wolf and the fox“

The fairy tale „Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ from Brothers Grimm has been adapted and retold in various forms over the years. Here are some notable adaptations:

„The Fox and the Wolf“ by Aesop: Aesop’s fable „The Fox and the Wolf“ is similar to the Brothers Grimm tale, with the fox outwitting the wolf in a contest of cunning.

„The Fox and the Crow“ by Jean de La Fontaine: This French fable is similar to „Gossip Wolf and the Fox“, with the fox using flattery to trick a crow into dropping a piece of cheese.

„The Tortoise and the Hare“ by Aesop: This famous fable also emphasizes the importance of perseverance and honesty over intelligence and cunning.

„The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck“ by Beatrix Potter: This children’s book features a similar plot, with a fox attempting to trick a duck, but ultimately being foiled by a wise friend.

„Reynard the Fox“: This medieval Dutch epic features Reynard the Fox, a trickster character who often outwits his animal friends and enemies in various contests of cunning.

„The Crow and the Fox“ by Leo Lionni: This children’s book is a retelling of the fable „The Fox and the Crow“, with illustrations that emphasize the moral of the story.

„The Gingerbread Man“: This classic children’s story features a similar plot, with a cunning fox attempting to trick a gingerbread man into becoming his lunch.

These adaptations and retellings showcase the enduring popularity of the themes and lessons found in „Gossip Wolf and the Fox“.

Summary of the plot

„Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ is a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm that tells the story of a cunning fox and a gossip-loving wolf. Tired of the wolf’s constant gossip, the fox decides to teach him a lesson by tricking him into believing that a farmer has a large store of food hidden away.

Driven by temptation and greed, the wolf goes to the farmer’s house at night to steal the food. However, the fox’s deception leads the wolf into a dangerous trap, and he barely manages to escape with his life. Having learned a valuable lesson about the consequences of indulging in gossip and deceit, the wolf is forced to reevaluate his behavior.

The tale conveys moral lessons about the dangers of gossip, dishonesty, and greed, while also illustrating the importance of learning from one’s mistakes. Through its engaging animal characters and humorous narrative, „Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ imparts valuable wisdom to readers of all ages.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „Gossip wolf and the fox“

„Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, who were German scholars, cultural researchers, and authors. They are best known for their collection of German and European folk tales, which were first published in the early 19th century as „Children’s and Household Tales“ (Kinder- und Hausmärchen in German).

The Brothers Grimm collected and compiled these tales as part of a broader movement to preserve and document the oral tradition and cultural heritage of Germany and Europe. Their work helped establish the study of folklore as a legitimate academic discipline. The fairy tales they collected have become some of the most famous and enduring stories in the Western literary canon, with many being adapted into various forms of media, including film, television, and theater.

„Gossip Wolf and the Fox,“ like many other Grimm fairy tales, often features talking animals and teaches moral lessons. This particular story revolves around the cunning fox and the naive she-wolf, exploring themes of trust, deception, and discernment. The tale serves as a cautionary reminder for readers to be careful about whom they trust, as appearances and familial ties can sometimes be deceiving.

It is essential to note that the Brothers Grimm’s collection of fairy tales underwent multiple revisions and editions, resulting in variations in the stories. Some of these revisions were made to make the stories more suitable for children, as the original versions often contained darker themes and explicit content.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Gossip wolf and the fox“

There are several interpretations that can be drawn from the Brothers Grimm’s „Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ fairy tale:

Deception and cunning: The tale highlights the deceptive nature of the fox, who tricks the she-wolf into believing that he genuinely cares for her and her child. The fox’s cunning behavior serves as a warning to be cautious about whom we trust and the intentions of those around us.

Exploitation of trust: The she-wolf trusts the fox due to their family ties and his apparent wisdom. However, the fox takes advantage of her trust for his own amusement, teaching readers that even close relatives or friends can sometimes betray our trust.

Consequences of naivety: The she-wolf’s willingness to believe the fox’s lies and act on his suggestions demonstrates her naivety. This story illustrates the potential dangers of being overly trusting and failing to question the motives of others.

The importance of discernment: The tale serves as a reminder to practice discernment when dealing with others, especially when their intentions are not clear. It is crucial to be vigilant and make informed decisions to avoid being deceived or taken advantage of.

The value of self-reliance: The she-wolf depends on the fox to help her and her child, instead of relying on her own instincts and abilities. The story demonstrates the importance of self-reliance and developing one’s own skills to face life’s challenges.

Overall, „Gossip Wolf and the Fox“ teaches valuable lessons about trust, deception, discernment, and self-reliance. It serves as a cautionary tale to remind readers to be vigilant and wise when dealing with others, as not everyone may have their best interests at heart.

Summary of the plot

In the Brothers Grimm fairy tale „Gossip Wolf and the Fox,“ a she-wolf gives birth to a young wolf and asks the fox, a clever and talented relative, to be the godfather. The fox accepts the invitation graciously, promising to help raise and guide the young wolf. At the feast, the fox suggests they get good food for the child, pointing out a sheep-fold on a nearby farm.

The she-wolf and fox venture to the farm together, but instead of helping, the fox sits down near the forest entrance to rest. As the she-wolf sneaks into the stable, a dog’s barking alerts the peasants, who catch the she-wolf and pour a burning mixture on her skin. The wounded she-wolf manages to escape and finds the fox pretending to be injured, claiming the peasants hurt him too. The sympathetic she-wolf, struggling herself, carries the fox on her back to her home.

Upon reaching the house, the fox reveals that he was never injured, mocks the she-wolf’s misfortune, and leaves her, laughing and bounding away. The story highlights the cunning and deceptive nature of the fox, who takes advantage of the she-wolf’s trust and concern for his own amusement.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
NumberKHM 74
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 152A
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH,
Readability Index by Björnsson31.8
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index81
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level6.9
Gunning Fog Index9.1
Coleman–Liau Index7.2
SMOG Index7.8
Automated Readability Index7
Character Count1.947
Letter Count1.483
Sentence Count19
Word Count379
Average Words per Sentence19,95
Words with more than 6 letters45
Percentage of long words11.9%
Number of Syllables473
Average Syllables per Word1,25
Words with three Syllables12
Percentage Words with three Syllables3.2%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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