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The Gold-Children
The Gold-Children Märchen

The Gold-Children - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 14 min

There was once a poor man and a poor woman who had nothing but a little cottage, and who earned their bread by fishing, and always lived from hand to mouth. But it came to pass one day when the man was sitting by the water-side, and casting his net, that he drew out a fish entirely of gold. As he was looking at the fish, full of astonishment, it began to speak and said, „Hark you, fisherman, if you will throw me back again into the water, I will change your little hut into a splendid castle.“ Then the fisherman answered, „Of what use is a castle to me, if I have nothing to eat?“ The gold fish continued, „That shall be taken care of, there will be a cupboard in the castle in which, when you open it, shall be dishes of the most delicate meats, and as many of them as you can desire.“ – „If that be true,“ said the man, „then I can well do you a favour.“ – „Yes,“ said the fish, „there is, however, the condition that you shall disclose to no one in the world, whosoever he may be, whence your good luck has come, if you speak but one single word, all will be over.“ Then the man threw the wonderful fish back again into the water, and went home. But where his hovel had formerly stood, now stood a great castle. He opened wide his eyes, entered, and saw his wife dressed in beautiful clothes, sitting in a splendid room, and she was quite delighted, and said, „Husband, how has all this come to pass? It suits me very well.“ – „Yes,“ said the man, „it suits me too, but I am frightfully hungry, just give me something to eat.“ Said the wife, „But I have got nothing and don’t know where to find anything in this new house.“ – „There is no need of your knowing,“ said the man, „for I see yonder a great cupboard, just unlock it.“ When she opened it, there stood cakes, meat, fruit, wine, quite a bright prospect. Then the woman cried joyfully, „What more can you want, my dear?“ and they sat down, and ate and drank together.

The gold-children Fairy Tale

When they had had enough, the woman said, „But husband, whence come all these riches?“ – „Alas,“ answered he, „do not question me about it, for I dare not tell you anything. If I disclose it to any one, then all our good fortune will fly.“ – „Very good,“ said she, „if I am not to know anything, then I do not want to know anything.“ However, she was not in earnest. She never rested day or night, and she goaded her husband until in his impatience he revealed that all was owing to a wonderful golden fish which he had caught, and to which in return he had given its liberty. And as soon as the secret was out, the splendid castle with the cupboard immediately disappeared, they were once more in the old fisherman’s hut, and the man was obliged to follow his former trade and fish. But fortune would so have it, that he once more drew out the golden fish. „Listen,“ said the fish, „if you will throw me back into the water again, I will once more give you the castle with the cupboard full of roast and boiled meats; only be firm, for your life’s sake don’t reveal from whom you have it, or you will lose it all again!“ – „I will take good care,“ answered the fisherman, and threw the fish back into the water. Now at home everything was once more in its former magnificence, and the wife was overjoyed at their good fortune, but curiosity left her no peace, so that after a couple of days she began to ask again how it had come to pass, and how he had managed to secure it. The man kept silence for a short time, but at last she made him so angry that he broke out, and betrayed the secret. In an instant the castle disappeared, and they were back again in their old hut. „Now you have got what you want,“ said he. „And we can gnaw at a bare bone again.“ – „Ah,“ said the woman, „I had rather not have riches if I am not to know from whom they come, for then I have no peace.“

The man went back to fish, and after a while he chanced to draw out the gold fish for a third time. „Listen,“ said the fish, „I see very well that I am fated to fall into your hands, take me home and cut me into six pieces; give your wife two of them to eat, two to your horse and bury two of them in the ground, then they will bring you a blessing.“ The fisherman took the fish home with him, and did as it had bidden him. It came to pass, however, that from the two pieces that were buried in the ground two golden lilies sprang up, that the horse had two golden foals, and the fisherman’s wife bore two children who were made entirely of gold.

The gold-children Fairy Tale

The children grew up, became tall and handsome, and the lilies and horses grew likewise. Then they said, „Father, we want to mount our golden steeds and travel out in the world.“ But he answered sorrowfully, „How shall I bear it if you go away, and I know not how it fares with you?“ Then they said, „The two golden lilies remain here. By them you can see how it is with us. If they are fresh, then we are in health. If they are withered, we are ill. If they perish, then we are dead.“ So they rode forth and came to an inn, in which were many people, and when they perceived the gold-children they began to laugh, and jeer. When one of them heard the mocking he felt ashamed and would not go out into the world, but turned back and went home again to his father. But the other rode forward and reached a great forest. As he was about to enter it, the people said, It is not safe for you to ride through, the wood is full of robbers who would treat you badly. You will fare ill, and when they see that you are all of gold, and your horse likewise, they will assuredly kill you.

The gold-children Fairy Tale

But he would not allow himself to be frightened, and said, „I must and will ride through it.“ Then he took bear-skins and covered himself and his horse with them, so that the gold was no more to be seen, and rode fearlessly into the forest. When he had ridden onward a little he heard a rustling in the bushes, and heard voices speaking together. From one side came cries of, „There is one,“ but from the other, „Let him go, ‚tis an idle fellow, as poor and bare as a church-mouse, what should we gain from him?“

So the gold-child rode joyfully through the forest, and no evil befell him. One day he entered a village wherein he saw a maiden, who was so beautiful that he did not believe that any more beautiful than she existed in the world. And as such a mighty love took possession of him, he went up to her and said, „I love thee with my whole heart, wilt thou be my wife?“ He, too, pleased the maiden so much that she agreed and said, „Yes, I will be thy wife, and be true to thee my whole life long.“ Then they were married, and just as they were in the greatest happiness, home came the father of the bride, and when he saw that his daughter’s wedding was being celebrated, he was astonished, and said, „Where is the bridegroom?“ They showed him the gold-child, who, however, still wore his bear-skins. Then the father said wrathfully, „A vagabond shall never have my daughter!“ and was about to kill him. Then the bride begged as hard as she could, and said, „He is my husband, and I love him with all my heart!“ until at last he allowed himself to be appeased. Nevertheless the idea never left his thoughts, so that next morning he rose early, wishing to see whether his daughter’s husband was a common ragged beggar. But when he peeped in, he saw a magnificent golden man in the bed, and the cast-off bear-skins lying on the ground. Then he went back and thought, „What a good thing it was that I restrained my anger! I should have committed a great crime.“ But the gold-child dreamed that he rode out to hunt a splendid stag, and when he awoke in the morning, he said to his wife, „I must go out hunting.“ She was uneasy, and begged him to stay there, and said, „You might easily meet with a great misfortune,“ but he answered, „I must and will go.“

Thereupon he got up, and rode forth into the forest, and it was not long before a fine stag crossed his path exactly according to his dream. He aimed and was about to shoot it, when the stag ran away. He gave chase over hedges and ditches for the whole day without feeling tired, but in the evening the stag vanished from his sight, and when the gold-child looked round him, he was standing before a little house, wherein was a witch. He knocked, and a little old woman came out and asked, „What are you doing so late in the midst of the great forest?“ – „Have you not seen a stag?“ – „Yes,“ answered she, „I know the stag well,“ and thereupon a little dog which had come out of the house with her, barked at the man violently. „Wilt thou be silent, thou odious toad,“ said he, „or I will shoot thee dead.“ Then the witch cried out in a passion, „What! will you slay my little dog?“ and immediately transformed him, so that he lay like a stone, and his bride awaited him in vain and thought, „That which I so greatly dreaded, which lay so heavily on my heart, has come upon him!“ But at home the other brother was standing by the gold-lilies, when one of them suddenly drooped. „Good heavens!“ said he, „my brother has met with some great misfortune! I must away to see if I can possibly rescue him.“ Then the father said, „Stay here, if I lose you also, what shall I do?“ But he answered, „I must and will go forth!“

Then he mounted his golden horse, and rode forth and entered the great forest, where his brother lay turned to stone. The old witch came out of her house and called him, wishing to entrap him also, but he did not go near her, and said, „I will shoot you, if you will not bring my brother to life again.“ She touched the stone, though very unwillingly, with her forefinger, and he was immediately restored to his human shape. But the two gold-children rejoiced when they saw each other again, kissed and caressed each other, and rode away together out of the forest, the one home to his bride, and the other to his father. The father then said, „I knew well that you had rescued your brother, for the golden lily suddenly rose up and blossomed out again.“ Then they lived happily, and all prospered with them until their death.

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Backgrounds to fairy tale „The gold-children“

„The Gold-Children,“ also known as „The Golden Children,“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their anthology „Children’s and Household Tales“ (Kinder- und Hausmärchen). The tale is numbered as Tale 85 in the collection.

The story, rooted in the European oral storytelling tradition, contains themes of sibling love, loyalty, betrayal, and transformation, as well as elements of magic and supernatural occurrences.

In „The Gold-Children,“ a fisherman catches a golden fish that promises to grant him a wish in exchange for its freedom. The fisherman wishes for a child, and soon, his wife gives birth to a golden son. Later, they have another child who is also golden. When the boys grow up, they decide to leave home and seek their fortune.

During their journey, the brothers come across a river inhabited by a magical fish. One brother stays behind to guard the river while the other continues the journey. The brother guarding the river is tricked by a wicked fisherman and is turned into a stone. The other brother returns, realizes his brother’s fate, and vows to find a way to break the spell.

Eventually, the brother discovers a magical flower that can break the enchantment. He uses the flower to save his brother, and they both return home. The wicked fisherman is punished for his deeds, and the gold-children live happily ever after.

The Brothers Grimm collected the tale as part of their efforts to preserve and promote German and European folklore. The story serves as an example of the rich variety of tales they gathered, reflecting the cultural and societal beliefs of the time.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The gold-children“

„The Gold-Children“ from the Brothers Grimm offers various interpretations based on its themes, symbols, and narrative elements. Some possible interpretations include:

Sibling love and loyalty: The story emphasizes the bond between siblings, as demonstrated by the love and loyalty between the two golden brothers. Their devotion to each other is evident throughout the tale, especially when one brother vows to save the other from the enchantment.

The power of transformation: The theme of transformation is central to the story, with the golden brothers, the golden fish, and the enchanted stone all undergoing significant changes. These transformations serve as both obstacles and solutions in the narrative, emphasizing the power of change and adaptability.

Good versus evil: The tale presents a clear contrast between good and evil, with the golden brothers representing goodness and the wicked fisherman embodying evil. The story ultimately rewards the virtuous siblings and punishes the malicious fisherman, reinforcing the idea that good will triumph over evil.

The role of fate and destiny: The birth of the golden children and their subsequent adventures could be seen as a result of fate or destiny. The miraculous circumstances of their birth and their encounters with magical creatures suggest that their lives are guided by a higher power or predetermined path.

The importance of perseverance and resourcefulness: The story highlights the value of perseverance and resourcefulness in overcoming challenges. The brothers face various obstacles throughout their journey, and it is their determination, courage, and ingenuity that help them succeed and ultimately reunite.

Overall, „The Gold-Children“ is a rich and engaging fairy tale that explores themes of love, loyalty, transformation, and the struggle between good and evil. It serves as a reminder of the power of perseverance and the importance of maintaining strong bonds with those we hold dear.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The gold-children“

„The Gold-Children“ is a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, and as a result, it has not been widely adapted or retold in popular culture. However, its themes and elements have appeared in various forms and adaptations over the years. Some specific examples include:

Literature: The themes and motifs of „The Gold-Children“ can be found in various literary works, including short stories, novels, and children’s books. These adaptations may take the form of retellings of the original story or reinterpretations that incorporate similar themes and ideas, such as sibling bonds, transformation, and the struggle between good and evil.

Theater: Although „The Gold-Children“ has not been widely adapted for the stage, smaller theater companies, school productions, or community theater groups might have included it in their repertoire or as part of a larger collection of Grimm fairy tales. The story’s themes of sibling love, loyalty, and transformation lend themselves well to theatrical exploration.

Art: Illustrators and visual artists might have been inspired by „The Gold-Children,“ creating artwork for book editions or standalone pieces that depict key scenes, characters, or themes from the story. These works can vary in style and medium, showcasing the impact of the Brothers Grimm’s tale on the world of art.

While „The Gold-Children“ has not been widely adapted or retold in mainstream media, its themes and ideas continue to resonate and can be found in various forms of art and storytelling. The story serves as a reminder of the importance of love, loyalty, and perseverance, which are timeless themes that continue to be relevant today.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The gold-children“

„The Gold-Children“ is a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, and as such, it has not been adapted as frequently as some of their more well-known stories. However, there have been a few adaptations of the tale over the years. Here are a few examples:

„The Golden Bird“ (animated short film, 1953): This Disney animated short film is based on the Grimm Brothers‘ story „The Golden Bird,“ which shares many similarities with „The Gold-Children.“ In this version, a prince must capture a golden bird from a magical tree to win the hand of a princess.

„The Golden Goose“ (film, 1964): This British film is an adaptation of the Grimm Brothers‘ story „The Golden Goose,“ which also features a magical golden object. In this version, a simpleton must find a golden goose to win the heart of a princess.

„The Gold-Children“ (children’s book, 2001): This children’s book by Jan Pieńkowski is a retelling of the Grimm Brothers‘ story. It features Pieńkowski’s distinctive silhouette illustrations and is aimed at young readers.

„The Gold-Children“ (podcast episode, 2016): This episode of the „Myths and Legends“ podcast tells the story of „The Gold-Children“ in a modern, conversational style. The podcast explores the themes and interpretations of the tale and adds a few humorous touches.

While „The Gold-Children“ has not been adapted as frequently as some of the Grimm Brothers‘ other stories, its themes of greed, sacrifice, and hard work continue to resonate with audiences today.

Summary of the plot

„The Gold-Children,“ a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, tells the story of a fisherman who catches a golden fish that promises to grant him a wish in exchange for its freedom. The fisherman wishes for a child, and his wife soon gives birth to a golden son. Later, they have another child, also golden.

When the boys grow up, they decide to leave home and seek their fortune. During their journey, they come across a magical river inhabited by a fish. One brother stays behind to guard the river while the other continues the journey. The brother guarding the river is tricked by a wicked fisherman and turned into a stone.

When the other brother returns and discovers his sibling’s fate, he vows to find a way to break the spell. After a series of adventures, he discovers a magical flower that can break the enchantment. He uses the flower to save his brother, and they both return home. The wicked fisherman is punished for his deeds, and the gold-children live happily ever after. The story explores themes of sibling love, loyalty, transformation, and the struggle between good and evil.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „The gold-children“

„The Gold-Children“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, collected in their famous anthology „Grimms‘ Fairy Tales“ (originally titled „Children’s and Household Tales“ or „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“). The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who collected and published folk tales during the 19th century. Their work has had a significant impact on the study of folklore and the popularization of fairy tales across the world.

The tales they collected were primarily oral stories passed down through generations within German-speaking regions. The Brothers Grimm sought to preserve these stories as part of German cultural heritage, and they transcribed them into written form, often modifying and adapting them to better suit literary audiences. Their collection of stories includes some of the most famous fairy tales known today, such as „Cinderella,“ „Snow White,“ „Rapunzel,“ and „Hansel and Gretel.“

„The Gold-Children,“ while not as well-known as some of the other tales in the Grimms‘ collection, shares many themes and motifs with other fairy tales, such as transformation, magical assistance, tests of character, and the triumph of good over evil. The story is part of the rich tapestry of folklore that the Brothers Grimm contributed to preserving and popularizing, showcasing the cultural imagination and wisdom of the German-speaking communities from which the stories were drawn.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The gold-children“

„The Gold-Children“ can be interpreted in various ways, offering valuable lessons and insights:

The dangers of greed and curiosity: The story highlights the potential dangers of greed and excessive curiosity. The fisherman’s wife’s inability to remain content with their newfound wealth and her constant questioning eventually lead to their downfall. This serves as a reminder to appreciate the blessings one has without seeking to know everything or desiring more.

The power of second chances: The fisherman is given multiple opportunities to learn from his mistakes and maintain the secret of the gold fish. This aspect of the story suggests that people can change and improve when given a chance to learn from their past actions.

Family bonds and loyalty: The story emphasizes the importance of family ties and loyalty. The brothers‘ love and concern for each other drive them to support and rescue one another. Their father, too, remains concerned for their well-being and provides guidance and comfort throughout their lives.

The transformative power of love: The gold-child’s love for the beautiful maiden is so strong that it leads him to overcome numerous obstacles and eventually create a happy life together. This theme showcases the power of love to inspire and strengthen individuals during difficult times.

The importance of inner strength and determination: Both gold-children display resilience and determination in facing challenges, such as mockery and magical threats. These qualities ultimately lead to their successful reunification and a happy ending, underscoring the importance of perseverance and courage in overcoming adversity.

The consequences of breaking promises: The fisherman breaks his promise to the gold fish twice, resulting in the loss of their wealth and happiness. This aspect of the story serves as a reminder of the importance of keeping one’s word and honoring commitments.

Overall, „The Gold-Children“ offers a variety of interpretations and lessons that touch upon themes of family, loyalty, love, determination, and the consequences of greed and broken promises.

Summary of the plot

„The Gold-Children“ is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a poor fisherman and his wife who are granted a life of riches by a magical gold fish, under the condition that they never reveal the source of their good fortune. The fisherman agrees, and they are given a splendid castle and a cupboard that provides an endless supply of delicious food. However, the fisherman’s wife becomes consumed by curiosity and eventually pesters her husband into revealing the secret. As a result, their wealth vanishes, and they return to their humble lives.

One day, the fisherman catches the gold fish again, who offers to restore their riches on the same condition. However, his wife’s curiosity gets the better of her again, and they lose everything once more. On the third encounter, the gold fish instructs the fisherman to cut it into six pieces, giving two to his wife, two to his horse, and burying the remaining two. This leads to the birth of two golden children and the growth of two golden lilies and two golden foals.

The golden children grow up and decide to explore the world, promising their father they will keep track of their well-being through the golden lilies. One of the brothers turns back due to mockery, while the other continues on, eventually marrying a beautiful maiden. However, his father-in-law initially disapproves of him, thinking he is a vagabond. After discovering the truth, the father-in-law relents, but the gold-child’s adventures lead him to be turned to stone by a witch.

The other brother sets out to rescue his sibling, and upon finding him, threatens the witch to turn his brother back to human form. Once reunited, they return to their respective homes, and the family lives happily ever after.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
NumberKHM 85
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 555
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES, FR, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH
Readability Index by Björnsson31.3
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index80.2
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level7.3
Gunning Fog Index10.1
Coleman–Liau Index7.4
SMOG Index8.8
Automated Readability Index7.6
Character Count10.063
Letter Count7.657
Sentence Count93
Word Count1.942
Average Words per Sentence20,88
Words with more than 6 letters202
Percentage of long words10.4%
Number of Syllables2.420
Average Syllables per Word1,25
Words with three Syllables87
Percentage Words with three Syllables4.5%
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