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The Hurds
Grimm Märchen

The Hurds - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 2 min

There was once on a time a maiden who was pretty, but idle and negligent. When she had to spin she was so out of temper that if there was a little knot in the flax, she at once pulled out a whole heap of it, and strewed it about on the ground beside her.

Now she had a servant who was industrious, and gathered together the bits of flax which were thrown away, cleaned them, span them fine, and had a beautiful gown made out of them for herself.

A young man had wooed the lazy girl, and the wedding was to take place. On the eve of the wedding, the industrious one was dancing merrily about in her pretty dress, and the bride said:

„Ah, how that girl does jump about, dressed in my odds and ends.“ The bridegroom heard that, and asked the bride what she meant by it? Then she told him that the girl was wearing a dress make of the flax which she had thrown away.

When the bridegroom heard that, and saw how idle she was, and how industrious the poor girl was, he gave her up and went to the other, and chose her as his wife.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The Hurds“

The fairy tale „The Hurds“ or „Odds and Ends,“ collected by the Brothers Grimm, reflects the values and culture of the time and region where it originated. The story was collected in the Mecklenburg region of Germany and showcases the importance of hard work, resourcefulness, and thriftiness. These values were held in high regard in German society during the time when the Brothers Grimm collected the story.

The tale also serves as a cautionary story about the consequences of laziness and carelessness. The lazy girl’s actions and attitude not only led to her losing her bridegroom but also highlighted the importance of choosing a partner who shares the same values and work ethic. This can be seen as a reflection of the social expectations and standards of the time. The fairy tale features a cautionary tale that emphasizes the importance of hard work, diligence, and resourcefulness, as well as the consequences of being wasteful and superficial. The story also highlights the moral lessons on humility and the value of actions over words.

It is important to note that the Brothers Grimm collected and compiled their fairy tales from oral storytelling traditions, and the stories often evolved as they were passed down through generations. As a result, the backgrounds to these tales are rooted in the cultural and social context of the time and region in which they were collected.

Grimm’s Fairy Tales is a collection of over 200 stories, many of which have become popular worldwide, influencing literature, film, and popular culture. The tales often serve as moral lessons and cautionary tales to teach children about the values and consequences of various human behaviors. Despite their widespread popularity, the original versions of these tales were often darker and more violent than the sanitized versions that are widely known today.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The Hurds“

„The Hurds“ or „Odds and Ends“ is a German fairy tale that offers several interpretations and lessons, particularly surrounding the themes of work ethic, resourcefulness, and the consequences of one’s actions. Some of the interpretations include:

The consequences of being wasteful: The lazy maiden’s habit of discarding the flax instead of working through the knots demonstrates wastefulness. On the other hand, the servant’s resourcefulness in utilizing the discarded flax highlights the value of making the most of available resources.

The significance of humility and kindness: The lazy maiden is portrayed as arrogant, as evidenced by her condescending remark about the servant wearing her discarded flax. This attitude eventually leads to her downfall. The story teaches the importance of being humble and treating others with kindness and respect.

The power of actions over words: The industrious servant’s actions speak louder than any words could. Her diligence, resourcefulness, and hard work make her a better wife in the eyes of the bridegroom, showcasing the importance of actions in defining a person’s character.

Value of hard work and resourcefulness: The story emphasizes the importance of being industrious and resourceful. The servant girl’s ability to create a beautiful gown from the hurds showcases her skills and resourcefulness, which are contrasted with the lazy girl’s wastefulness and lack of work ethic. One of the central themes of the story is the contrast between the lazy maiden and the industrious servant. The servant’s hard work is rewarded when she marries the bridegroom, while the lazy maiden loses her chance at happiness due to her lack of effort.

Consequences of laziness: The lazy girl’s careless attitude and unwillingness to work hard ultimately lead to her losing her bridegroom. This serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of laziness and the importance of valuing hard work.

Social expectations and judgment: The bridegroom’s decision to marry the servant girl instead of the lazy girl can be seen as a reflection of the social expectations of the time. People were expected to choose a partner who shared their values and work ethic. The lazy girl’s lack of these qualities led to her being judged unfavorably and losing her bridegroom. The bridegroom initially chooses the lazy maiden based on her beauty, but later realizes her shortcomings. This serves as a reminder to look beyond appearances and consider a person’s character and actions.

The transformative power of hard work: The servant girl’s transformation from a simple servant to a bride highlights the power of hard work and resourcefulness in changing one’s life. By making the most of the opportunities and resources available to her, the servant girl was able to improve her situation.

Inner qualities over superficial appearances: The story also highlights the importance of focusing on a person’s inner qualities, such as hard work and resourcefulness, rather than superficial appearances. The lazy girl may have been initially chosen as a bride, but her lack of desirable qualities ultimately led to her downfall.

Overall, „The Hurds“ offers a rich tapestry of interpretations and lessons that can be taken from its narrative, emphasizing the importance of values such as hard work, resourcefulness, and personal responsibility.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The Hurds“

While „The Hurds“ or „Odds and Ends“ is not as widely known or adapted as some other Brothers Grimm fairy tales, there have been a few adaptations and retellings in various forms:

Short stories and anthologies: Some authors have retold the story of „The Hurds“ in their own words, often with slight changes to the plot or characters to make it more relatable to modern audiences. These retellings may appear in short story collections or anthologies featuring other fairy tales as well.

Children’s books: As with many other fairy tales, „The Hurds“ has been adapted into children’s books, often with colorful illustrations to help bring the story to life. These adaptations may simplify the plot and emphasize the moral lessons for young readers.

Animated films and television: Though there are no major animated films or television shows that focus specifically on „The Hurds,“ elements of the story may appear in animated adaptations of other Brothers Grimm fairy tales or as part of a larger collection of stories. For example, a television show or animated film featuring multiple fairy tales could include an episode or segment dedicated to „The Hurds.“

Theater and stage adaptations: Some theater groups or playwrights might adapt „The Hurds“ for the stage, either as a standalone production or as part of a larger compilation of fairy tales. These adaptations may take the form of a traditional play or incorporate elements of dance, music, or puppetry.

Art and illustration: Artists have also found inspiration in „The Hurds“ and its themes of hard work and resourcefulness. Paintings, drawings, or illustrations based on the story might be included in art exhibitions, books, or other collections of fairy tale-inspired artwork.

While „The Hurds“ may not have been adapted as extensively as some other Brothers Grimm tales, there are still opportunities for creative reinterpretation and retelling in various forms and mediums.

Summary of the plot

„The Hurds,“ also known as „Odds and Ends,“ is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. The story revolves around a lazy girl and her industrious servant. The lazy girl would carelessly tear out handfuls of flax while spinning, whenever she encountered a knot. Her servant, on the other hand, would collect these discarded pieces and eventually made a gown out of them.

When the lazy girl was about to get married, the servant attended a party on the eve of the wedding, wearing the gown made from the odds and ends. The bride, in a careless manner, told her bridegroom about the origin of the gown and how it was made from the discarded hurds. Upon hearing this, the bridegroom decided to marry the industrious servant instead of the lazy girl, as he appreciated the servant’s resourcefulness and hard work.


„The Hurds“ is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale that centers around a pretty but lazy and negligent maiden who becomes displeased while spinning flax. Whenever she encounters a knot, she throws a whole heap of flax onto the ground. Her industrious servant, who diligently collects the discarded flax, cleans and spins it, eventually has a beautiful gown made from it.

When a young man proposes to the lazy maiden, a wedding is planned. On the eve of the wedding, the industrious servant dances in her beautiful gown, and the bride-to-be spitefully remarks that the servant is wearing a dress made from the flax she had thrown away. The bridegroom overhears this comment and, upon realizing the laziness of his bride-to-be and the industriousness of the servant, decides to call off the wedding. Instead, he chooses the hardworking servant as his wife, demonstrating that hard work and diligence can be rewarded.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
NumberKHM 156
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 1451
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES, FR, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH,
Readability Index by Björnsson32
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index80.5
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level7.7
Gunning Fog Index10.9
Coleman–Liau Index6.9
SMOG Index9
Automated Readability Index8.2
Character Count1.045
Letter Count792
Sentence Count9
Word Count205
Average Words per Sentence22,78
Words with more than 6 letters19
Percentage of long words9.3%
Number of Syllables250
Average Syllables per Word1,22
Words with three Syllables9
Percentage Words with three Syllables4.4%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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