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Old Rinkrank
Grimm Märchen

Old Rinkrank - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 7 min

There was once on a time a King who had a daughter, and he caused a glass mountain to be made, and said that whosoever could cross to the other side of it without falling should have his daughter to wife. Then there was one who loved the King’s daughter, and he asked the King if he might have her. „Yes,“ said the King; „if you can cross the mountain without falling, you shall have her.“ And the princess said she would go over it with him, and would hold him if he were about to fall. So they set out together to go over it, and when they were half way up the princess slipped and fell, and the glass-mountain opened and shut her up inside it, and her betrothed could not see where she had gone, for the mountain closed immediately. Then he wept and lamented much, and the King was miserable too, and had the mountain broken open where she had been lost, and though the would be able to get her out again, but they could not find the place into which she had fallen. Meanwhile the King’s daughter had fallen quite deep down into the earth into a great cave. An old fellow with a very long gray beard came to meet her, and told her that if she would be his servant and do everything he bade her, she might live, if not he would kill her. So she did all he bade her. In the mornings he took his ladder out of his pocket, and set it up against the mountain and climbed to the top by its help, and then he drew up the ladder after him. The princess had to cook his dinner, make his bed, and do all his work, and when he came home again he always brought with him a heap of gold and silver. When she had lived with him for many years, and had grown quite old, he called her Mother Mansrot, and she had to call him Old Rinkrank. Then once when he was out, and she had made his bed and washed his dishes, she shut the doors and windows all fast, and there was one little window through which the light shone in, and this she left open. When Old Rinkrank came home, he knocked at his door, and cried, „Mother Mansrot, open the door for me.“ – „No,“ said she, „Old Rinkrank, I will not open the door for thee.“ Then he said,

„Here stand I, poor Rinkrank,
On my seventeen long shanks,
On my weary, worn-out foot,
Wash my dishes, Mother Mansrot.“

„I have washed thy dishes already,“ said she. Then again he said,

„Here stand I, poor Rinkrank,
On my seventeen long shanks,
On my weary, worn-out foot,
Make me my bed, Mother Mansrot.“

„I have made thy bed already,“ said she. Then again he said,

„Here stand I, poor Rinkrank,
On my seventeen long shanks,
On my weary, worn-out foot,
Open the door, Mother Mansrot.“

Then he ran all round his house, and saw that the little window was open, and thought, „I will look in and see what she can be about, and why she will not open the door for me.“ He tried to peep in, but could not get his head through because of his long beard. So he first put his beard through the open window, but just as he had got it through, Mother Mansrot came by and pulled the window down with a cord which she had tied to it, and his beard was shut fast in it. Then he began to cry most piteously, for it hurt him very much, and to entreat her to release him again. But she said not until he gave her the ladder with which he ascended the mountain. Then, whether he would or not, he had to tell her where the ladder was. And she fastened a very long ribbon to the window, and then she set up the ladder, and ascended the mountain, and when she was at the top of it she opened the window. She went to her father, and told him all that had happened to her. The King rejoiced greatly, and her betrothed was still there, and they went and dug up the mountain, and found Old Rinkrank inside it with all his gold and silver. Then the King had Old Rinkrank put to death, and took all his gold and silver. The princess married her betrothed, and lived right happily in great magnificence and joy.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „Old Rinkrank“

„Old Rinkrank“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. The Brothers Grimm were German academics and linguists who compiled an extensive collection of folklore and fairy tales during the early 19th century. Their work, „Grimm’s Fairy Tales“ or „Kinder- und Hausmärchen,“ was first published in 1812 and has since become a classic in Western literature.

„Old Rinkrank“ tells the story of a king’s daughter who becomes trapped in a glass mountain after playing with a magical ball. Inside the mountain, she encounters an old man named Rinkrank who forces her to serve him as a maid. Rinkrank also demands the princess to marry him, but she refuses. Over time, the princess cleverly devises a plan to escape the glass mountain with the help of a servant boy who enters the mountain through a secret passage. Eventually, they outwit Rinkrank and return to the kingdom, where the princess is reunited with her father.

The backgrounds and influences behind „Old Rinkrank“ are rooted in European folklore and traditional storytelling. The tale contains common elements and themes found in many other fairy tales, such as:

Female protagonist: The story centers on a young princess who must overcome adversity and demonstrate her intelligence and resourcefulness to escape from her captor.

As in many other fairy tales, the princess is held captive in a magical or enchanted location, in this case, a glass mountain.

Supernatural elements: The story features supernatural elements, such as the magical ball and the enchanted glass mountain, which are typical in fairy tales.

Overcoming adversity: The protagonist must use her wit and cunning to outsmart her captor, ultimately triumphing over her difficult circumstances.

Helper character: The servant boy plays a crucial role in helping the princess escape, a common theme in many fairy tales where the protagonist receives assistance from an unexpected source.

„Old Rinkrank“ is just one example of the many diverse and imaginative stories that make up the Brothers Grimm’s collection. It reflects the rich tradition of European folklore and the universal themes of resilience, intelligence, and the triumph of good over evil.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Old Rinkrank“

„Old Rinkrank“ may not be as well-known as other Brothers Grimm fairy tales, but it still offers a variety of interesting interpretations that provide insights into human nature, societal values, and cultural context. Some possible interpretations include:

Female empowerment: The princess in „Old Rinkrank“ is a strong, resourceful character who refuses to submit to her captor. Her determination and wit allow her to escape her imprisonment, demonstrating the importance of female agency and independence.

The value of intelligence and resourcefulness: The princess uses her cleverness to devise a plan to escape the glass mountain, proving that intelligence and resourcefulness can triumph over adversity. This theme is common in many fairy tales and serves to encourage critical thinking and problem-solving.

The importance of friendship and teamwork: The servant boy plays a crucial role in helping the princess escape from the glass mountain. This highlights the value of friendship, loyalty, and teamwork in overcoming obstacles and achieving success.

Coming of age: The protagonist’s journey through adversity and challenges can be seen as a coming-of-age narrative. The princess matures through her experiences and learns valuable lessons about strength, self-reliance, and perseverance.

The dangers of curiosity: The princess initially becomes trapped in the glass mountain due to her curiosity about the magical ball. This element of the story may serve as a cautionary tale about the potential consequences of unbridled curiosity or reckless behavior.

Good vs. evil: The fairy tale features a classic battle between good and evil, with the virtuous princess pitted against the wicked Rinkrank. The story ultimately conveys the message that good will triumph over evil, a common theme in many traditional fairy tales.

Transformation and redemption: After escaping the glass mountain and outwitting Rinkrank, the princess is reunited with her father and returns to her life in the kingdom. This resolution symbolizes transformation and redemption, as the protagonist emerges from her ordeal stronger and wiser.

These are just a few of the many possible interpretations of „Old Rinkrank.“ As with any fairy tale, the story can be understood and appreciated on multiple levels, providing valuable insights into the human experience and cultural values.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Old Rinkrank“

While „Old Rinkrank“ is not as widely known as some other Brothers Grimm fairy tales, it has been adapted and reimagined in various forms over the years. Some adaptations include:

Illustrated books: Various illustrated versions of „Old Rinkrank“ have been published, featuring artwork by different illustrators. These books often target children, with illustrations helping to bring the story to life and make it more accessible.

Retellings: Authors have taken creative liberties to reimagine and retell the story of „Old Rinkrank“ in new ways. For example, „Glass Mountain: A Novel“ by Janusz Korczak retells the tale in a modern context while keeping the essential themes and elements intact.

Animated films: Although there is no major animated film adaptation of „Old Rinkrank“ specifically, the story’s elements and themes have been incorporated into various animated works. For example, the concept of a glass mountain appears in „The Glass Mountain“ (1949), a British film that features a unique blend of live-action and animation, although it is not a direct adaptation of the fairy tale.

Theater and stage productions: „Old Rinkrank“ has been adapted for the stage in various forms, including plays, puppet shows, and musicals. Local theater companies and schools may have performed adaptations of the story, though they may not be widely recognized or documented.

Television and radio adaptations: The story of „Old Rinkrank“ has likely been adapted for television and radio programs, especially as part of anthologies or series dedicated to the Brothers Grimm or fairy tales in general. One example is the German radio play „Der Glasberg“ (The Glass Mountain), which aired in 1981, and was adapted from the Brothers Grimm’s „Old Rinkrank.“

While „Old Rinkrank“ may not have the same level of recognition as some other Grimm’s fairy tales, it still offers a wealth of opportunities for adaptation and creative reinterpretation. Elements of the story can be seen in various media forms, and it continues to inspire artists and storytellers to explore its themes and messages.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Old Rinkrank“

The fairy tale „Old Rinkrank“ from the Brothers Grimm has been adapted into various forms of media, including:

Operas: There have been several operas based on the tale, including „Rumpelstiltskin“ by British composer David Sawer and „The Weaver’s Wedding“ by Czech composer Bohuslav Martinu.

Plays: The tale has been adapted into stage productions, including „Rumpelstiltskin“ by Robert Neilson Stephens and „The Girl Who Spun Gold“ by Myrna Grant.

Films and television shows: There have been numerous films and television shows based on the tale, including the 1987 film „Rumpelstiltskin“ and the television series „Once Upon a Time,“ which featured Rumpelstiltskin as a recurring character.

Children’s books: The tale has been adapted into numerous children’s books, including „Rumpelstiltskin“ by Paul Galdone and „Tom Tit Tot“ by Evaline Ness.

Art: The tale has also inspired visual artists, including painter John William Waterhouse, who created a painting titled „The Lady of Shalott“ that was inspired by the tale.

These adaptations often put their own spin on the original tale, and vary in terms of their tone and interpretation.

Summary of the plot

„Old Rinkrank“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. The story follows a king’s daughter who becomes trapped inside a magical glass mountain after playing with a enchanted ball. Inside the mountain, she encounters an old man named Rinkrank who forces her to serve him as a maid and tries to make her marry him. However, the princess refuses.

Over time, the princess cleverly devises a plan to escape the glass mountain with the help of a servant boy who discovers a secret passage into the mountain. Together, they outsmart Rinkrank, find a way to break the glass mountain, and return to the kingdom. The princess is reunited with her father, and the story concludes with a sense of triumph and freedom.

——————

Backgrounds to fairy tale „Old Rinkrank“

„Old Rinkrank“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, in their famous compilation, „Grimms‘ Fairy Tales“ (original title: „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“). The Brothers Grimm were German scholars, linguists, and cultural researchers who lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Their collection of fairy tales, first published in 1812, has become an essential part of the Western literary canon.

The Brothers Grimm gathered stories from various sources, including oral traditions, written texts, and from their acquaintances. Their primary aim was to preserve the German cultural heritage and share the moral and cultural values contained within these stories. The tales were revised and expanded in several editions, with the final edition published in 1857, containing over 200 stories.

„Old Rinkrank“ is part of this collection and, like many other Grimm fairy tales, explores various themes, such as love, resilience, and the battle between good and evil. Despite not being as widely recognized as other Grimm tales like „Cinderella,“ „Snow White,“ or „Hansel and Gretel,“ „Old Rinkrank“ shares the same timeless quality and offers valuable life lessons to its readers.

As with many fairy tales, „Old Rinkrank“ has been passed down through generations and may have been influenced by other similar stories from different cultures. The tale may also have evolved over time, taking on new elements or shedding others as it was retold, before the Brothers Grimm recorded it in their collection.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Old Rinkrank“

„Old Rinkrank“ offers various interpretations, touching on themes such as resilience, the power of love, and the consequences of greed.

Resilience and Adaptation: The princess, despite being trapped in the cave and forced to serve Old Rinkrank, demonstrates great resilience and adaptability. She endures years of servitude, biding her time until she can outsmart her captor and regain her freedom. Her ability to survive and maintain hope in such a difficult situation is an important message for readers.

The Power of Love: The young man’s love for the princess motivates him to accept the King’s challenge, and it is the princess’s love for him that makes her join him in the dangerous climb. Moreover, the betrothed’s love remains constant, as he stays with the King throughout the years, searching for the lost princess. This devotion ultimately leads to their reunion and happy ending.

Greed and Its Consequences: Old Rinkrank’s greed for wealth and desire to control the princess lead to his downfall. His hoarding of gold and silver, combined with his need to maintain power over the princess, ultimately backfires when she outsmarts him. This tale serves as a cautionary message about the dangers of greed and the importance of valuing relationships over material possessions.

Empowerment and Self-Reliance: The princess takes control of her situation and orchestrates her escape, proving that she is resourceful and capable. This theme of empowerment and self-reliance is a valuable lesson, encouraging readers to take charge of their own lives and not to rely solely on others for their happiness or freedom.

Good Triumphs Over Evil: In the end, Old Rinkrank, the embodiment of evil in the story, is defeated, and the princess and her true love are reunited. This theme reinforces the notion that good will eventually prevail over evil, providing a sense of hope and optimism to readers.

Summary of the plot

„Old Rinkrank“ is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm about a princess who becomes trapped inside a glass mountain. The King, her father, declares that whoever can cross the mountain without falling will win his daughter’s hand in marriage. A young man who loves the princess accepts the challenge, and the princess agrees to help him. However, halfway up the mountain, the princess slips, falls, and is swallowed by the glass mountain.

The princess finds herself in a deep cave, where she meets an old man with a long gray beard. He tells her that if she serves him, she will live; otherwise, he will kill her. The princess obeys, and for years, she cooks, cleans, and does other chores for the old man, known as Old Rinkrank. He uses a magical ladder to climb out of the cave and bring back gold and silver each day.

As the years pass, the princess grows old and becomes known as Mother Mansrot. One day, when Old Rinkrank is out, she decides to trick him. She closes all the doors and windows, leaving only a small one open. When Old Rinkrank returns, he cannot enter his home and tries to peek through the window. Mother Mansrot sees her chance and traps his beard in the window. To free himself, Old Rinkrank must tell her where the magical ladder is hidden.

Mother Mansrot escapes the cave and reunites with her father and betrothed, who have been searching for her all these years. They dig up the mountain, find Old Rinkrank, and execute him, seizing his wealth. The princess finally marries her true love, and they live happily ever after in great luxury and joy.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
NumberKHM 196
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 311
TranslationsDE, EN, ES, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH
Readability Index by Björnsson32.6
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index81.1
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level7.6
Gunning Fog Index9.9
Coleman–Liau Index7.2
SMOG Index7.2
Automated Readability Index8.2
Character Count3.926
Letter Count2.997
Sentence Count34
Word Count768
Average Words per Sentence22,59
Words with more than 6 letters77
Percentage of long words10%
Number of Syllables933
Average Syllables per Word1,21
Words with three Syllables16
Percentage Words with three Syllables2.1%
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