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Mother Trudy
Grimm Märchen

Mother Trudy - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 4 min

Attention: This is a scary story.

There was once a little girl who was obstinate and inquisitive, and when her parents told her to do anything, she did not obey them, so how could she fare well?

One day she said to her parents:

„I have heard so much of Mother Trudy, I will go to her some day. People say that everything about her does look so strange, and that there are such odd things in her house, that I have become quite curious!“

Mother Trudy Fairy Tale

Her parents absolutely forbade her, and said:

„Mother Trudy is a bad woman, who does wicked things, and if thou goest to her; thou art no longer our child.“

But the maiden did not let herself be turned aside by her parent’s prohibition, and still went to Mother Trudy. And when she got to her, Mother Trudy said:

„Why art thou so pale?“

„Ah,“ she replied, and her whole body trembled, „I have been so terrified at what I have seen.“

„What hast thou seen?“

„I saw a black man on your steps.“

„That was a collier.“

„Then I saw a green man.“

„That was a huntsman.“

„After that I saw a blood-red man.“

„That was a butcher.“

„Ah, Mother Trudy, I was terrified. I looked through the window and saw not you, but, as I verily believe, the devil himself with a head of fire.“

„Oho!“ said she, „then thou hast seen the witch in her proper costume. I have been waiting for thee, and wanting thee a long time already; thou shalt give me some light.“

Then she changed the girl into a block of wood, and threw it into the fire. And when it was in full blaze she sat down close to it, and warmed herself by it, and said:

„That shines bright for once in a way.“

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Backgrounds to fairy tale „Mother Trudy“

„Mother Trudy“ (also known as „Frau Trude“) is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their anthology „Grimm’s Fairy Tales.“ The story revolves around a curious and disobedient young girl who disobeys her parents and pays a visit to the mysterious Mother Trudy, only to face dire consequences.

The tale’s origins can be traced back to the oral storytelling traditions of Germany and other parts of Europe. „Mother Trudy“ is one of many cautionary tales that were used to teach children the importance of obedience and the dangers of curiosity and disobedience. These stories often featured elements of fear and punishment to help instill discipline and moral values in young listeners.

The character of Mother Trudy serves as an embodiment of the dangers and consequences of disobedience. She is a witch who represents the mysterious and frightening aspects of the world that lie beyond the safety of home and family. In the story, Mother Trudy warns the girl not to come near her, but the girl ignores her warning and pays the price for her defiance.

The tale of „Mother Trudy“ explores themes of curiosity, disobedience, and punishment. It serves as a cautionary tale, teaching children the importance of listening to their parents and respecting boundaries. The story also touches upon the idea of the consequences that come from disregarding authority and the potential harm that can come from giving in to curiosity without restraint.

The plot revolves around a willful little girl who disobeys her parents, deciding to visit Frau Trude despite their warnings. On her way, she encounters a black man (a collier), a green man (a huntsman), and a red man (a butcher). When she arrives and looks through Frau Trude’s window, she sees the devil instead of Frau Trude. The witch explains that the girl saw her in her true form, and that she had been waiting for her arrival. Frau Trude then turns the girl into a block of wood, throws her into the fire, and warms herself by it, commenting on the brightness of the fire.

The Brothers Grimm fairy tales often feature moral lessons and elements of caution, which were intended to serve as guidance for children and teach them the importance of making wise decisions and avoiding danger. „Mother Trudy“ is one such tale that conveys lessons on obedience, curiosity, and the potential consequences of one’s actions. This tale is unusual because the evil witch triumphs in the end, and the child is defeated. However, it still carries the common Grimm theme of children who disobey their parents being punished, making it a signature Grimm story. The tale is related to other folktales and fairy tales, such as Hansel and Gretel, Vasilissa the Beautiful, and The Willful Child.

In the context of its time, „Mother Trudy“ would have been seen as a representation of societal norms, where children were expected to obey their parents without question. The story also reflects the fear and superstition surrounding witches and the supernatural, which were prevalent in European folklore. Although the story might seem harsh and severe by today’s standards, it is essential to understand that it was written in a different historical and cultural context, where such cautionary tales were a means of imparting moral values and life lessons to children.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Mother Trudy“

Mother Trudy is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm and is tale number 43 in their collection. Classified as Aarne-Thompson type 334 (At the Witch’s House), the story is set in Germany. „Mother Trudy“ is a cautionary tale that offers various interpretations and lessons for its readers. Here are some key themes and interpretations from the Brothers Grimm’s story:

The importance of obedience: One of the central messages of the story is the importance of obeying one’s parents and respecting their wisdom. The young girl’s disobedience to her parents‘ warnings leads her to a dangerous situation, showing the potential consequences of not following instructions from those who have more experience and knowledge.

The dangers of curiosity: The story also highlights the potential risks of uncontrolled curiosity. The girl’s curiosity about Mother Trudy pushes her to ignore her parents‘ warnings and ultimately leads her into danger. The tale serves as a reminder that curiosity, while often a positive trait, can be harmful when it is not tempered with caution and respect for boundaries. The girl’s inquisitive nature drives her to seek out the mysterious Mother Trudy, despite the warnings from her parents. This illustrates how an excessive or unrestrained curiosity can lead to dangerous situations or undesirable outcomes. It is essential to balance curiosity with caution and common sense.

The consequences of defiance: „Mother Trudy“ emphasizes the idea that there are consequences for defying authority and ignoring warnings. The girl’s punishment at the hands of Mother Trudy is a direct result of her refusal to heed the advice of her parents and the witch’s warning. The story teaches that defiance can have serious repercussions.

Consequences of disobedience: One of the central themes of the story is the consequences of not heeding the advice of one’s parents or elders. The girl’s disobedience ultimately leads to her tragic end. This lesson can be applied to the importance of respecting and following the guidance of those with more experience or wisdom.

The power of storytelling: The girl’s curiosity about Mother Trudy is fueled by the stories she has heard. This highlights the power of storytelling in shaping our perceptions and actions. Stories can inspire curiosity, but they can also serve as cautionary tales to warn us of potential dangers.

The presence of evil: Mother Trudy represents evil in the story. Her wicked actions and her final act of turning the girl into a block of wood serve as a reminder that evil can exist in the world. This interpretation emphasizes the importance of being cautious and making wise choices to avoid falling prey to malevolent forces.

Consequences of one’s actions: The girl’s fate in the story serves as a reminder that our actions have consequences, and we must take responsibility for the choices we make. The girl’s decision to visit Mother Trudy despite the warnings results in a tragic outcome, emphasizing the need for self-discipline and making well-informed decisions.

Supernatural elements as cautionary devices: The presence of the witch, Mother Trudy, adds a supernatural element to the tale. The witch’s powers and the girl’s eventual transformation serve to heighten the sense of danger and fear, reinforcing the message of the importance of obedience and respect for authority.

The protective role of parents: The story also underlines the role of parents as protectors and guides for their children. The girl’s parents try to protect her from the dangers of the world, including Mother Trudy. However, it is ultimately the girl’s responsibility to heed their warnings and make the right choices.

In summary, „Mother Trudy“ teaches important lessons about obedience, respect for authority, and the potential dangers of unbridled curiosity. The tale serves as a cautionary reminder to children that there are consequences for disregarding the guidance and wisdom of their parents and other authority figures. This tale is unique among Grimm stories because the evil witch is victorious, and the disobedient child is defeated. However, it still embodies the typical Grimm theme of children being punished for not obeying their parents.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Mother Trudy“

„Mother Trudy“ (also known as „Frau Trude“ or „Mother Trude“) is a short, cautionary fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, in their famous collection, „Grimms‘ Fairy Tales.“ The collection was first published in 1812 as „Children’s and Household Tales“ (Kinder- und Hausmärchen), with multiple editions and revisions over the years. The Brothers Grimm were German academics, linguists, and cultural researchers who aimed to preserve and document the German folklore and traditional stories that were passed down orally through generations. While „Mother Trudy“ may not be as widely known or adapted as some other Brothers Grimm fairy tales, it has still inspired various adaptations and creative works. Some specific examples include:

Literary adaptations: The story of „Mother Trudy“ has been retold and adapted in various forms, such as children’s books, anthologies, and collections of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. These adaptations often present the story with new illustrations or modified language to make it more accessible to modern audiences, while still preserving the cautionary themes and moral lessons of the original tale. „Mother Trudy“ by Adele Geras: This is a children’s book adaptation of the fairy tale, illustrated by Jago. It was published in 2012 and tells the story of a young girl named Liza who disobeys her mother’s warning not to visit Mother Trudy’s house. The story has a modern twist and emphasizes the importance of being true to oneself. „Mother Trudy’s Trip“ by Amy Hest: This is another children’s book adaptation of the story, illustrated by Jill Barton. It was published in 1996 and tells the story of a little girl who visits Mother Trudy’s house and learns a valuable lesson about obedience and respect.

Films: „Mother Trudy“ episode of „Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics“: This is an anime adaptation of the story, produced in Japan in 1987. The episode follows the original plot of the story, but with some changes in character design and animation style. „Mother Trudy“ episode of „The Storyteller“: This is a live-action adaptation of the story, produced by Jim Henson in 1987. The episode stars Brenda Blethyn as Mother Trudy and features a more elaborate and fantastical version of the story. „Mother Trudy“ episode of „Once Upon a Time“: This is a television adaptation of the story, aired in 2012 as part of the first season of the popular fantasy series. The episode features the character of Mother Trudy as a powerful witch who tests the obedience of a young girl named Gretel.

Theater and performance art: „Mother Trudy“ has been adapted for the stage in the form of plays, puppet shows, and other theatrical performances. These adaptations often emphasize the moral lessons of the story and use the tale’s supernatural elements to create a sense of fear and wonder.

Art and illustration: Artists have been inspired by the story of „Mother Trudy“ to create visual representations of the characters and scenes from the tale. These artworks often highlight the dark and mysterious aspects of the story and serve as a way to explore the themes and emotions present in the narrative.

Music: „Mother Trudy“ has inspired musical compositions that convey the story’s atmosphere and themes. These musical adaptations might include songs, instrumental pieces, or even full operas that tell the story through music, lyrics, and performance.

While „Mother Trudy“ might not have as many adaptations as other Brothers Grimm fairy tales, its themes of curiosity, disobedience, and punishment continue to resonate with audiences and inspire various forms of media. The story serves as a cautionary tale that teaches the importance of obedience and respecting authority, making it a timeless narrative that continues to be retold and adapted in different forms.

Summary of the plot

„Mother Trudy“ is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale that tells the story of a curious and disobedient young girl who ignores her parents‘ warnings and visits the mysterious and feared Mother Trudy. The girl’s parents repeatedly warn her not to go near Mother Trudy’s house, as she is a witch, and they fear for her safety. However, the girl’s curiosity gets the better of her, and she decides to visit Mother Trudy despite her parents‘ warnings. When she arrives at the house, Mother Trudy asks the girl why she is there, and the girl explains that she wants to see what Mother Trudy looks like.

Mother Trudy tries to discourage the girl by telling her that she will regret her curiosity, but the girl insists on staying. At that moment, Mother Trudy reveals her true, frightening form as a witch. The terrified girl tries to escape, but Mother Trudy casts a spell on her, transforming her into a block of wood. The witch then throws the wooden block into the fire, and as it burns, she sits down and warms herself, saying that the flames are lighting up the room beautifully, just as the girl had wanted to see. The story ends with the grim fate of the disobedient girl, who paid the ultimate price for her curiosity and defiance of her parents‘ warnings.

„Mother Trudy“ serves as a cautionary tale that teaches the importance of obedience, respecting authority, and the potential dangers of unbridled curiosity. The story emphasizes the consequences of defying one’s parents and the risks that come from venturing into the unknown without caution.


„Mother Trudy“ is a cautionary fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm about a stubborn and curious little girl who disobeys her parents‘ warnings. The girl is fascinated by the stories she has heard about Mother Trudy and the strange occurrences at her house. Despite her parents‘ prohibition and warning that Mother Trudy is a wicked woman, the girl decides to visit her anyway.

Upon arriving at Mother Trudy’s house, the girl encounters a series of strange sights: a black man on the steps (a collier), a green man (a huntsman), and a blood-red man (a butcher). Frightened, she peers through the window and sees what she believes to be the devil, with a head of fire. Mother Trudy confirms that the girl has seen the witch in her true form and reveals that she has been waiting for the girl.

In the end, Mother Trudy turns the disobedient girl into a block of wood and throws it into the fire. As the wood burns brightly, the witch sits nearby, warming herself and enjoying the light. The tale serves as a warning to children about the consequences of disobedience and curiosity leading to dangerous situations.

The plot revolves around a willful little girl who disobeys her parents and decides to visit Frau Trude (Mother Trudy) despite their warnings. When she arrives at Frau Trude’s house, the girl encounters various strange figures and eventually sees the devil in place of Frau Trude. The witch then reveals that she had been waiting for the girl and turns her into a block of wood, which she throws into the fire.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
NumberKHM 43
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 334
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES, FR, PT, FI, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH
Readability Index by Björnsson22
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index89.8
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level3.7
Gunning Fog Index6.4
Coleman–Liau Index6.9
SMOG Index7.2
Automated Readability Index2.7
Character Count1.613
Letter Count1.163
Sentence Count25
Word Count302
Average Words per Sentence12,08
Words with more than 6 letters30
Percentage of long words9.9%
Number of Syllables374
Average Syllables per Word1,24
Words with three Syllables12
Percentage Words with three Syllables4%
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