Reading time for children: 9 min
Once upon a time lived a peasant and his wife, and the parson of the village had a fancy for the wife, and had wished for a long while to spend a whole day happily with her. The peasant woman, too, was quite willing. One day, therefore, he said to the woman, „Listen, my dear friend, I have now thought of a way by which we can for once spend a whole day happily together. I’ll tell you what. On Wednesday, you must take to your bed, and tell your husband you are ill, and if you only complain and act being ill properly, and go on doing so until Sunday when I have to preach, I will then say in my sermon that whosoever has at home a sick child, a sick husband, a sick wife, a sick father, a sick mother, a sick brother or whosoever else it may be, and makes a pilgrimage to the Göckerli hill in Italy, where you can get a peck of laurel-leaves for a kreuzer, the sick child, the sick husband, the sick wife, the sick father, or sick mother, the sick sister, or whosoever else it may be, will be restored to health immediately.“
„I will manage it,“ said the woman promptly. Now therefore on the Wednesday, the peasant woman took to her bed, and complained and lamented as agreed on, and her husband did everything for her that he could think of, but nothing did her any good, and when Sunday came the woman said, „I feel as ill as if I were going to die at once, but there is one thing I should like to do before my end I should like to hear the parson’s sermon that he is going to preach today.“ On that the peasant said, „Ah, my child, do not do it — thou mightest make thyself worse if thou wert to get up. Look, I will go to the sermon, and will attend to it very carefully, and will tell thee everything the parson says.“
„Well,“ said the woman, „go, then, and pay great attention, and repeat to me all that thou hearest.“ So the peasant went to the sermon, and the parson began to preach and said, if any one had at home a sick child, a sick husband, a sick wife, a sick father a sick mother, a sick sister, brother or any one else, and would make a pilgimage to the Göckerli hill in Italy, where a peck of laurel-leaves costs a kreuzer, the sick child, sick husband, sick wife, sick father, sick mother, sick sister, brother, or whosoever else it might be, would be restored to health instantly, and whosoever wished to undertake the journey was to go to him after the service was over, and he would give him the sack for the laurel-leaves and the kreuzer.
Then no one was more rejoiced than the peasant, and after the service was over, he went at once to the parson, who gave him the bag for the laurel-leaves and the kreuzer. After that he went home, and even at the house door he cried, „Hurrah! dear wife, it is now almost the same thing as if thou wert well! The parson has preached today that whosoever had at home a sick child, a sick husband, a sick wife, a sick father, a sick mother, a sick sister, brother or whoever it might be, and would make a pilgrimage to the Göckerli hill in Italy, where a peck of laurel-leaves costs a kreuzer, the sick child, sick husband, sick wife, sick father, sick mother, sick sister, brother, or whosoever else it was, would be cured immediately, and now I have already got the bag and the kreuzer from the parson, and will at once begin my journey so that thou mayst get well the faster,“ and thereupon he went away. He was, however, hardly gone before the woman got up, and the parson was there directly.
But now we will leave these two for a while, and follow the peasant, who walked on quickly without stopping, in order to get the sooner to the Göckerli hill, and on his way he met his gossip. His gossip was an egg-merchant, and was just coming from the market, where he had sold his eggs. „May you be blessed,“ said the gossip, „where are you off to so fast?“
„To all eternity, my friend,“ said the peasant, „my wife is ill, and I have been today to hear the parson’s sermon, and he preached that if any one had in his house a sick child, a sick husband, a sick wife, a sick father, a sick mother, a sick sister, brother or any one else, and made a pilgrimage to the Göckerli hill in Italy, where a peck of laurel-leaves costs a kreuzer, the sick child, the sick husband, the sick wife, the sick father, the sick mother, the sick sister, brother or whosoever else it was, would be cured immediately, and so I have got the bag for the laurel-leaves and the kreuzer from the parson, and now I am beginning my pilgrimage.“ – „But listen, gossip,“ said the egg-merchant to the peasant, „are you, then, stupid enough to believe such a thing as that? Don’t you know what it means? The parson wants to spend a whole day alone with your wife in peace, so he has given you this job to do to get you out of the way.“
„My word!“ said the peasant. „How I’d like to know if that’s true!“
„Come, then,“ said the gossip, „I’ll tell you what to do. Get into my egg-basket and I will carry you home, and then you will see for yourself.“ So that was settled, and the gossip put the peasant into his egg-basket and carried him home.
When they got to the house, hurrah! but all was going merry there! The woman had already had nearly everything killed that was in the farmyard, and had made pancakes, and the parson was there, and had brought his fiddle with him. The gossip knocked at the door, and woman asked who was there. „It is I, gossip,“ said the egg-merchant, „give me shelter this night. I have not sold my eggs at the market, so now I have to carry them home again, and they are so heavy that I shall never be able to do it, for it is dark already.“
„Indeed, my friend,“ said the woman, „thou comest at a very inconvenient time for me, but as thou art here it can’t be helped, come in, and take a seat there on the bench by the stove.“ Then she placed the gossip and the basket which he carried on his back on the bench by the stove. The parso, however, and the woman, were as merry as possible. At length the parson said, „Listen, my dear friend, thou canst sing beautifully; sing something to me.“ – „Oh,“ said the woman, „I cannot sing now, in my young days indeed I could sing well enough, but that’s all over now.“
„Come,“ said the parson once more, „do sing some little song.“
On that the woman began and sang,
„I’ve sent my husband away from me
To the Göckerli hill in Italy.“
Thereupon the parson sang:
„I wish ‚twas a year before he came back,
I’d never ask him for the laurel-leaf sack.“
Hallelujah. Then the gossip who was in the background began to sing (but I ought to tell you the peasant was called Hildebrand), so the gossip sang,
„What art thou doing, my Hildebrand dear,
There on the bench by the stove so near?“
Hallelujah. And then the peasant sang from his basket, „All singing I ever shall hate from this day, And here in this basket no longer I’ll stay.“
Hallelujah. And he got out of the basket, and cudgelled the parson out of the house.
Backgrounds to fairy tale „Old Hildebrand“
„Old Hildebrand“ is a lesser-known German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their anthology „Grimm’s Fairy Tales“ (originally titled „Children’s and Household Tales“). The tale is numbered as KHM 95 (Kinder- und Hausmärchen 95) in the collection.
The story is a humorous tale centered around a clever farmer named Hildebrand, who outwits a cunning and dishonest priest. The narrative incorporates elements of satire, wit, and irony, as Hildebrand plays a series of tricks on the priest to expose his dishonesty and hypocrisy. The tale ends with the priest being humiliated and Hildebrand triumphing over him.
At its core, „Old Hildebrand“ explores themes of cunning, wit, and the importance of outsmarting one’s adversaries. The story serves as a cautionary tale about dishonesty and hypocrisy, highlighting the consequences faced by those who engage in such behavior. In addition, it emphasizes the value of intelligence and resourcefulness in overcoming challenges and adversaries.
As with other Grimm fairy tales, „Old Hildebrand“ has its roots in the oral storytelling traditions of various European cultures. The tale has been passed down through generations and adapted in different forms, reflecting the values and sensibilities of the societies that shared it. The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, sought to preserve these stories by collecting and documenting them in their famous anthology, ensuring their continued relevance and resonance with readers around the world.
Interpretations to fairy tale „Old Hildebrand“
„Old Hildebrand“ offers several interpretations and lessons through its humorous narrative, focusing on the follies of human nature and the importance of wit and cunning. Some key themes and interpretations include:
The consequences of dishonesty and hypocrisy: The story serves as a cautionary tale about dishonesty and hypocrisy, as the priest faces humiliation for engaging in deceitful behavior. This theme teaches readers about the potential consequences of being dishonest and the importance of integrity.
The value of intelligence and resourcefulness: Hildebrand’s wit and cunning enable him to outsmart the priest and triumph over his adversary. This theme highlights the importance of using intelligence and resourcefulness to overcome challenges and protect oneself from deceitful individuals.
Satire of religious institutions: The story can be interpreted as a satirical commentary on religious institutions, with the priest representing the corruption and hypocrisy sometimes found within them. By exposing the priest’s dishonesty, the tale encourages readers to question the integrity of those who hold positions of authority in religious and moral contexts.
The power of humor and irony: „Old Hildebrand“ uses humor and irony to convey its messages, making the story entertaining and engaging while also imparting valuable lessons. The use of humor and irony can be seen as a means to make the story’s themes more accessible and enjoyable for readers.
Social critique: The tale can be viewed as a critique of social norms and conventions, particularly those related to power and authority. By depicting a cunning farmer outwitting a deceitful priest, the story challenges the traditional hierarchy and encourages readers to question the actions and motives of those in positions of power.
Overall, „Old Hildebrand“ is a humorous and thought-provoking tale that offers valuable insights into human nature and the importance of wit, cunning, and integrity. The story’s themes and interpretations encourage readers to question societal norms, the integrity of authority figures, and the consequences of dishonesty and hypocrisy.
Adaptions of the fairy tale „Old Hildebrand“
„Old Hildebrand“ may not be as well-known or as frequently adapted as some other Grimm fairy tales, but it still has inspired some adaptations and retellings. Examples of adaptations include:
Children’s books and illustrated editions: Various authors and illustrators have retold „Old Hildebrand“ in the form of children’s books and illustrated editions, simplifying the story or focusing on particular aspects to make it more accessible for younger readers while preserving the core themes and messages of the original tale.
Audio recordings and audiobooks: „Old Hildebrand“ has been narrated and recorded in audio formats, making the tale accessible to those who enjoy listening to stories. These audio adaptations often feature different voice actors or narrators to bring the characters to life.
Storytelling and oral performances: As a tale with roots in the oral storytelling tradition, „Old Hildebrand“ lends itself well to being performed or retold by storytellers. Performances may take place in various settings, such as storytelling festivals, schools, or cultural events.
Adaptations in other languages and cultures: Like many of the Grimm fairy tales, „Old Hildebrand“ has been adapted and retold in many languages and cultures worldwide. These versions may feature local folklore elements, culturally specific details, or unique narrative twists, reflecting the diverse ways in which the story has resonated with audiences across different regions and societies.
While „Old Hildebrand“ may not have as many high-profile adaptations as some other Grimm fairy tales, its engaging narrative and thought-provoking themes continue to inspire creative retellings and interpretations in various forms, ensuring its ongoing relevance and appeal for audiences around the world.
Adaptions of the fairy tale „Old Hildebrand“
„Old Hildebrand“ has inspired several adaptations in various forms of media over the years. Here are some notable adaptations:
„The Dragon Slayer“ by Martyn Ford: This children’s book adaptation of „Old Hildebrand“ tells the story of a young boy named Ralph who sets out to slay a dragon with the help of an old knight named Hildebrand. The book is illustrated by Michael Foreman and offers a modern retelling of the classic fairy tale.
„Dragon Slayer“ (1981): This British fantasy film, directed by Matthew Robbins, is loosely based on the tale of „Old Hildebrand“. The film tells the story of a young prince named Galen who sets out to kill a dragon that is terrorizing his kingdom. He is aided by an old knight named Ulrich and a young woman named Valerian. The film was a box office success and won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
„Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes“ (1990): This Japanese role-playing video game was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and is loosely based on the tale of „Old Hildebrand“. The game follows a young hero named Ryu who sets out to slay a dragon with the help of an old warrior named Bo. The game was well-received and is considered a classic of the RPG genre.
„Old Hildebrand“ (2018): This short film adaptation of the fairy tale was directed by Kaleb Lechowski and produced by the Blender Foundation. The film is an animated retelling of the classic tale that updates the story with modern graphics and animation techniques.
These adaptations demonstrate the enduring appeal of the classic fairy tale of „Old Hildebrand“ and its ability to inspire new and creative interpretations across different media platforms.
Summary of the plot
„Old Hildebrand“ is a humorous fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm that tells the story of a cunning farmer named Hildebrand who outwits a deceitful priest. The tale begins with Hildebrand and his wife arguing over a proposed marriage between their daughter and the priest. Hildebrand’s wife wishes for the marriage to happen, while Hildebrand is against it.
To put an end to the dispute, Hildebrand devises a clever plan. He tells his wife that if the priest can answer three questions correctly, he will consent to the marriage. Hildebrand’s wife excitedly tells the priest about the challenge, and the priest agrees to participate, confident in his ability to answer any questions.
Hildebrand asks the priest the first question: how much he is worth. The priest replies that he is worth 60 dollars, which Hildebrand accepts as the correct answer. The second question is how much the king is worth. The priest answers that the king is worth 90 dollars. Hildebrand pretends to accept the answer but then asks the third question: how long it would take the priest to travel the world.
The priest replies that it would take him eight days to travel the world, and Hildebrand tells him that he must prove this by walking around a field with a hare. The priest agrees to the challenge, but as he starts walking around the field, Hildebrand releases the hare, which runs away in fright. The priest chases after the hare, but he is unable to catch it.
Hildebrand declares that the priest has failed the challenge and refuses to allow the marriage between the priest and his daughter. The story ends with the priest being humiliated and Hildebrand triumphing over him, having successfully exposed the priest’s dishonesty and hypocrisy.
„Old Hildebrand“ is a witty and satirical tale that highlights the importance of cunning and resourcefulness in outsmarting adversaries and emphasizes the consequences of dishonesty and hypocrisy.
Backgrounds to fairy tale „Old Hildebrand“
„Old Hildebrand“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, also known as Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The Brothers Grimm were German linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They are best known for their collection of folk tales and fairy tales, which were published under the title „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“ or „Children’s and Household Tales“ in 1812. The collection has gone through numerous editions and contains some of the most famous fairy tales, such as „Cinderella,“ „Snow White,“ „Rapunzel,“ and „Hansel and Gretel.“
„Old Hildebrand“ features a tale of deceit, betrayal, and the ultimate exposure of a dishonest plan. The story serves as a cautionary tale, using humor and satire to explore human relationships and the consequences of dishonest behavior.
The Brothers Grimm collected their stories from various sources, often based on traditional oral folk tales that had been passed down through generations. Their work aimed to preserve the cultural heritage of Germany and offer moral lessons and entertainment to readers. The tales have since been translated into numerous languages, adapted into various forms of media, and have become an integral part of Western storytelling tradition.
Interpretations to fairy tale „Old Hildebrand“
„Old Hildebrand“ can be interpreted in various ways, highlighting different aspects of human behavior, relationships, and the consequences of deceit:
Deceit and betrayal: The story serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of deceit and betrayal. The parson and the wife’s plan to deceive the husband is eventually exposed, resulting in embarrassment and punishment for the parson. The story suggests that dishonesty will eventually be revealed, and those who deceive others will face the consequences of their actions.
Trust in relationships: The peasant’s trust in his wife and the parson is exploited for their selfish desires. The story highlights the importance of trust in relationships, both romantic and otherwise, and the damage that can be done when that trust is broken.
The importance of vigilance: The peasant’s gossip, an unlikely ally, serves as a reminder to remain vigilant and be aware of the intentions of those around us. The gossip’s keen perception of the parson’s intentions ultimately saves the peasant from being duped.
The role of humor and satire: The story uses humor and satire to address serious themes. The characters‘ songs, especially the ones mocking the peasant’s absence, provide comic relief while also driving the story towards its conclusion. The use of humor and satire makes the story entertaining while still conveying important messages about trust, betrayal, and the consequences of dishonesty.
The consequences of selfish desires: Both the parson and the wife display selfishness by prioritizing their desires over the well-being of the husband. The story shows that acting on selfish desires can lead to negative consequences not only for the individuals involved but also for the relationships they share with others.
Summary of the plot
In „Old Hildebrand“ by Brothers Grimm, a peasant lives with his wife who has caught the attention of the village parson. The parson and the woman wish to spend a day together, so they devise a plan to fake the woman’s illness. The parson promises to announce in his sermon that whoever has a sick relative can cure them by fetching laurel-leaves from the Göckerli hill in Italy. As expected, the woman pretends to be sick, and the peasant, desperate to cure her, attends the sermon and sets off on the journey.
However, the peasant soon meets his gossip, an egg-merchant, who explains that the parson’s plan is a ruse to spend time with the peasant’s wife. The gossip convinces the peasant to hide in his egg-basket and carries him home, where they find the parson and the wife enjoying themselves, feasting and playing music.
When the parson and the woman sing songs mocking the peasant’s absence, the gossip and the peasant join in, revealing the husband’s presence. Upon realizing the deceit, the peasant emerges from the basket and chases the parson out of his house.
Informations for scientific analysis
Fairy tale statistics
|ATU Typ 1360C
|DE, EN, DA, ES, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH,
|Readability Index by Björnsson
|Gunning Fog Index
|Automated Readability Index
|Average Words per Sentence
|Words with more than 6 letters
|Percentage of long words
|Number of Syllables
|Average Syllables per Word
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|Percentage Words with three Syllables
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