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Looking for a Bride
Grimm Märchen

Looking for a Bride - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 2 min

There was once a young shepherd who wished much to marry, and was acquainted with three sisters who were all equally pretty, so that it was difficult to him to make a choice, and he could not decide to give the preference to any one of them. Then he asked his mother for advice, and she said:

„Invite all three, and set some cheese before them, and watch how they eat it.“

The youth did so. The first, however, swallowed the cheese with the rind on. The second hastily cut the rind off the cheese, but she cut it so quickly that she left much good cheese with it, and threw that away also. The third peeled the rind off carefully, and cut neither too much nor too little.

The shepherd told all this to his mother, who said:

„Take the third for thy wife.“

This he did, and lived contentedly and happily with her.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „Looking for a Bride“

„Looking for a Bride“ (also known as „Choosing a Bride“ or „Brides on Their Trial“) is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their collection, „Grimm’s Fairy Tales.“ The tale was added to the second edition and is numbered 155 in the collection. It is classified as Aarne-Thompson type 1452, Choosing a Bride by How She Cuts Cheese. First published in 1812 as part of their collection „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“ (Children’s and Household Tales), the stories have been translated into numerous languages and have become an essential part of Western literary and cultural history. Many of their fairy tales, such as „Cinderella,“ „Snow White,“ and „Hansel and Gretel,“ have become universally recognized stories.

The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, were German academics and linguists who undertook the task of collecting and preserving folktales, stories, and legends from their homeland during the early 19th century. Their work was part of the larger Romantic movement in Germany that sought to rediscover and celebrate national identity and culture. The Grimm brothers‘ collection of folktales became one of the most famous and influential works of its kind, with their stories being translated and adapted into numerous languages and formats around the world.

The story of „Looking for a Bride“ features a shepherd who cannot decide which of three sisters he should marry. Heeding the advice of his mother, the shepherd gives each of the sisters cheese to observe how they cut and eat it. The first sister cuts the cheese without removing all the rind and ends up eating some. The second sister cuts off good cheese along with the rind, wasting it. The third sister carefully pares off the rind, demonstrating her attention to detail and frugality, which leads the shepherd to choose her as his bride.

This simple tale serves as a moral lesson on the importance of being careful, practical, and attentive to detail, qualities that were highly valued in traditional agrarian societies. The story reflects the values and beliefs of its time, illustrating the importance of a potential spouse’s ability to manage household resources efficiently. The tale also highlights the significance of the mother’s wisdom, as her advice leads the shepherd to make the right choice. In the case of „Looking for a Bride,“ the story presents a moral lesson through a simple narrative about a shepherd trying to choose a wife. Although it is not as widely known as some of the other tales by the Brothers Grimm, it still reflects their overall approach to storytelling by combining folk wisdom, cultural values, and moral guidance within an easily understandable narrative.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Looking for a Bride“

„Looking for a Bride,“ also known as „Choosing a Bride“ or „Brides on Their Trial,“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. While the story may not be as famous as other Grimm tales, it offers several valuable interpretations and insights into the cultural values of the time.

Prudence and thoughtfulness: The third sister’s careful approach to eating the cheese demonstrates her prudent and thoughtful nature. The story suggests that these qualities are valuable in a life partner and contribute to a happy and successful marriage.

The importance of guidance: The young shepherd seeks the advice of his mother, who has more life experience and wisdom. By following her guidance, he makes the right choice and ultimately finds happiness. This highlights the importance of respecting and learning from the wisdom of our elders.

Making decisions based on character: The shepherd’s choice of wife is not based on physical appearance, as all three sisters are equally pretty. Instead, the decision is based on the sisters‘ actions, which reflect their character. This underlines the importance of looking beyond superficial qualities and choosing partners based on deeper values and traits.

Simple tests as indicators: The story demonstrates that sometimes small, everyday actions can reveal a person’s true nature. By observing how the sisters eat cheese, the shepherd is able to identify which sister is the most thoughtful and resourceful, qualities that ultimately lead to a happy marriage.

The value of moderation: The third sister’s ability to cut the rind without wasting any cheese demonstrates a balanced and moderate approach to life. This can be seen as a metaphor for maintaining balance in various aspects of life, such as decision-making, resource management, and relationships, all of which contribute to a fulfilling life.

Practicality and attention to detail: The tale emphasizes the importance of practicality and attention to detail in daily life. The third sister’s careful approach to cutting the cheese showcases her ability to manage resources wisely and avoid waste. This quality was highly valued in traditional societies, where resources were often scarce and had to be used efficiently.

Wisdom of elders: The shepherd’s mother plays a crucial role in the story by offering her son advice on how to choose a bride. Her wisdom and experience guide the shepherd to make the right decision, highlighting the importance of respecting and listening to the advice of elders in society.

Importance of character in choosing a spouse: The tale underscores the significance of evaluating a potential spouse’s character, rather than just their physical appearance or social status. By observing how the sisters handle a simple task, the shepherd is able to discern the qualities that would make a suitable wife.

The role of women in traditional societies: The story reflects the societal expectations placed on women in traditional societies, where they were expected to be skilled in household management and resourcefulness. The third sister’s ability to cut the cheese carefully and efficiently demonstrates her competence in these areas, making her the ideal choice for a wife.

A metaphor for decision-making: The story can also be interpreted as a metaphor for decision-making in general. The shepherd faces a difficult choice, and it is only by carefully observing and evaluating the options in front of him that he can make the right decision. This lesson can be applied to various aspects of life, from personal relationships to professional decisions.

In summary, „Looking for a Bride“ offers valuable insights into the cultural values of the time and presents lessons on the importance of practicality, attention to detail, wisdom of elders, character evaluation, and decision-making.

Adaptions to fairy tale „Looking for a Bride“

„Looking for a Bride“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm (1786-1859) Grimm, who were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors. The Brothers Grimm are renowned for their collection of fairy tales, which they compiled as part of their efforts to preserve the Germanic folk tradition and its cultural heritage. Although „Looking for a Bride“ is not as well-known as other Grimm fairy tales, there are still many ways to adapt the story for different formats. Here are some specific examples of how the story could be reimagined and adapted:

Children’s book: A children’s book titled „The Cheese Test: A Tale of Love and Wisdom“ could retell the story with vibrant illustrations, emphasizing the moral lessons and values. This adaptation could also introduce additional characters, such as talking animals, that help guide the shepherd in his quest to find a suitable bride.

Animation or short film: An animated short film called „The Three Sisters and the Shepherd“ could reimagine the story with a modern twist, set in a contemporary farming community. The shepherd could be a young man trying to choose between three sisters who all have their unique talents and personalities. The cheese test could be replaced with a more relatable task, like cooking or gardening, that showcases the sisters‘ qualities.

Theater or musical production: A stage play or musical called „Choosing a Bride: A Musical Fable“ could adapt the story into a lively, entertaining production with songs and dances. The shepherd’s journey to find a bride could be expanded into a more extensive narrative, introducing various challenges and obstacles he must overcome, along with a cast of colorful supporting characters.

Television series: A family-oriented television series, „The Shepherd’s Choice,“ could incorporate elements from „Looking for a Bride“ as one of its episodes. The show could follow the adventures of a young shepherd who learns valuable life lessons through various encounters with magical creatures and enchanted objects, with each episode focusing on a different moral or theme.

Interactive storytelling: An interactive storytelling app or game, „The Shepherd’s Quest,“ could allow players to take on the role of the shepherd and make choices that influence the outcome of the story. Players could interact with different characters, complete tasks, and ultimately decide which of the sisters they would choose as their bride based on the qualities they value most.

While there may not be any widely-known adaptations of „Looking for a Bride“ currently available, these examples illustrate the potential for bringing this lesser-known Grimm fairy tale to new audiences through various formats and mediums.

Summary of the plot

„Looking for a Bride,“ also known as „Choosing a Bride“ or „Brides on Their Trial,“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. The story revolves around a shepherd who is unsure about which of the three sisters he should marry. Seeking guidance, he turns to his mother, who suggests that he give each sister a piece of cheese to observe how they cut and eat it.

The first sister cuts the cheese without removing all the rind, consequently eating some of it. The second sister cuts off good cheese along with the rind, wasting it. The third sister carefully pares off the rind, revealing her attention to detail and frugality. Observing their actions, the shepherd decides to marry the third sister, as her careful and efficient approach to the task demonstrates qualities he values in a wife. The tale emphasizes the importance of practicality, attention to detail, and the wisdom of elders in making decisions.


„Looking for a Bride“ is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm about a young shepherd who wants to marry but cannot choose between three equally pretty sisters. Seeking advice, he consults his mother who suggests inviting the sisters over and observing how they eat cheese. The shepherd follows his mother’s advice and takes note of their actions: the first sister eats the cheese with the rind still on, the second quickly cuts the rind away but also wastes some good cheese, and the third carefully peels the rind without wasting any cheese. After sharing his observations with his mother, she advises him to choose the third sister as his wife, as her careful and thoughtful approach to eating the cheese reflects her character. The shepherd marries the third sister, and they live happily and contentedly together.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
NumberKHM 155
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 1452
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES, FR, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH,
Readability Index by Björnsson25.2
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index84.7
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level5.3
Gunning Fog Index8.8
Coleman–Liau Index8.1
SMOG Index9
Automated Readability Index5.5
Character Count833
Letter Count630
Sentence Count10
Word Count155
Average Words per Sentence15,50
Words with more than 6 letters15
Percentage of long words9.7%
Number of Syllables195
Average Syllables per Word1,26
Words with three Syllables10
Percentage Words with three Syllables6.5%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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