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The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing
Grimm Märchen

The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 16 min

There was once a King’s son, who was no longer content to stay at home in his father’s house, and as he had no fear of anything, he thought, „I will go forth into the wide world, there the time will not seem long to me, and I shall see wonders enough.“ So he took leave of his parents, and went forth, and on and on from morning till night, and whichever way his path led it was the same to him. It came to pass that he got to the house of a giant, and as he was so tired he sat down by the door and rested. And as he let his eyes roam here and there, he saw the giant’s playthings lying in the yard. These were a couple of enormous balls, and nine-pins as tall as a man. After a while he had a fancy to set the nine-pins up and then rolled the balls at them, and screamed and cried out when the nine-pins fell, and had a merry time of it. The giant heard the noise, stretched his head out of the window, and saw a man who was not taller than other men, and yet played with his nine-pins. „Little worm,“ cried he, „why art thou playing with my balls? Who gave thee strength to do it?“ The King’s son looked up, saw the giant, and said, „Oh, thou blockhead, thou thinkest indeed that thou only hast strong arms, I can do everything I want to do.“ The giant came down and watched the bowling with great admiration, and said, „Child of man, if thou art one of that kind, go and bring me an apple of the tree of life.“ – „What dost thou want with it?“ said the King’s son. „I do not want the apple for myself,“ answered the giant, „but I have a betrothed bride who wishes for it. I have travelled far about the world and cannot find the tree.“ – „I will soon find it,“ said the King’s son, „and I do not know what is to prevent me from getting the apple down.“ The giant said, „Thou really believest it to be so easy! The garden in which the tree stands is surrounded by an iron railing, and in front of the railing lie wild beasts, each close to the other, and they keep watch and let no man go in.“ – „They will be sure to let me in,“ said the King’s son. „Yes, but even if thou dost get into the garden, and seest the apple hanging to the tree, it is still not thine; a ring hangs in front of it, through which any one who wants to reach the apple and break it off, must put his hand, and no one has yet had the luck to do it.“ – „That luck will be mine,“ said the King’s son. Then he took leave of the giant, and went forth over mountain and valley, and through plains and forests, until at length he came to the wondrous garden.

The beasts lay round about it, but they had put their heads down and were asleep. Moreover, they did not awake when he went up to them, so he stepped over them, climbed the fence, and got safely into the garden. There, in the very middle of it, stood the tree of life, and the red apples were shining upon the branches. He climbed up the trunk to the top, and as he was about to reach out for an apple, he saw a ring hanging before it; but he thrust his hand through that without any difficulty, and gathered the apple. The ring closed tightly on his arm, and all at once he felt a prodigious strength flowing through his veins. When he had come down again from the tree with the apple, he would not climb over the fence, but grasped the great gate, and had no need to shake it more than once before it sprang open with a loud crash. Then he went out, and the lion which had been lying down before, was awake and sprang after him, not in rage and fierceness, but following him humbly as its master.

The King’s son took the giant the apple he had promised him, and said, „Seest thou, I have brought it without difficulty.“ The giant was glad that his desire had been so soon satisfied, hastened to his bride, and gave her the apple for which she had wished. She was a beautiful and wise maiden, and as she did not see the ring on his arm, she said, „I shall never believe that thou hast brought the apple, until I see the ring on thine arm.“ The giant said, „I have nothing to do but go home and fetch it,“ and thought it would be easy to take away by force from the weak man, what he would not give of his own free will. He therefore demanded the ring from him, but the King’s son refused it. „Where the apple is, the ring must be also,“ said the giant; „if thou wilt not give it of thine own accord, thou must fight with me for it.“

They wrestled with each other for a long time, but the giant could not get the better of the King’s son, who was strengthened by the magical power of the ring. Then the giant thought of a stratagem, and said, „I have got warm with fighting, and so hast thou. We will bathe in the river, and cool ourselves before we begin again.“ The King’s son, who knew nothing of falsehood, went with him to the water, and pulled off with his clothes the ring also from his arm, and sprang into the river. The giant instantly snatched the ring, and ran away with it, but the lion, which had observed the theft, pursued the giant, tore the ring out of his hand, and brought it back to its master. Then the giant placed himself behind an oak-tree, and while the King’s son was busy putting on his clothes again, surprised him, and put both his eyes out.

And now the unhappy King’s son stood there, and was blind and knew not how to help himself. Then the giant came back to him, took him by the hand as if he were someone who wanted to guide him, and led him to the top of a high rock. There he left him standing, and thought, „Just two steps more, and he will fall down and kill himself, and I can take the ring from him.“ But the faithful lion had not deserted its master. It held him fast by the clothes, and drew him gradually back again. When the giant came and wanted to rob the dead man, he saw that his cunning had been in vain. „Is there no way, then, of destroying a weak child of man like that?“ said he angrily to himself, and seized the King’s son and led him back again to the precipice by another way, but the lion which saw his evil design, helped its master out of danger here also. When they had got close to the edge, the giant let the blind man’s hand drop, and was going to leave him behind alone, but the lion pushed the giant so that he was thrown down and fell, dashed to pieces, on the ground.

The faithful animal again drew its master back from the precipice, and guided him to a tree by which flowed a clear brook. The King’s son sat down there, but the lion lay down, and sprinkled the water in his face with its paws. Scarcely had a couple of drops wetted the sockets of his eyes, than he was once more able to see something, and remarked a little bird flying quite close by, which wounded itself against the trunk of a tree. On this it went down to the water and bathed itself therein, and then it soared upwards and swept between the trees without touching them, as if it had recovered its sight again. Then the King’s son recognized a sign from God and stooped down to the water, and washed and bathed his face in it. And when he arose he had his eyes once more, brighter and clearer than they had ever been.

The King’s son thanked God for his great mercy, and travelled with his lion onwards through the world. And it came to pass that he arrived before a castle which was enchanted. In the gateway stood a maiden of beautiful form and fine face, but she was quite black. She spoke to him and said, „Ah, if thou couldst but deliver me from the evil spell which is thrown over me.“ – „What shall I do?“ said the King’s son. The maiden answered, „Thou must pass three nights in the great hall of this enchanted castle, but thou must let no fear enter thy heart. When they are doing their worst to torment thee, if thou bearest it without letting a sound escape thee, I shall be free. Thy life they dare not take.“ Then said the King’s son, „I have no fear; with God’s help I will try it.“ So he went gaily into the castle, and when it grew dark he seated himself in the large hall and waited. Everything was quiet, however, till midnight, when all at once a great tumult began, and out of every hole and corner came little devils. They behaved as if they did not see him, seated themselves in the middle of the room, lighted a fire, and began to gamble. When one of them lost, he said, „It is not right. Some one is here who does not belong to us. It is his fault that I am losing.“ – „Wait, you fellow behind the stove, I am coming,“ said another. The screaming became still louder, so that no one could have heard it without terror. The King’s son stayed sitting quite quietly, and was not afraid; but at last the devils jumped up from the ground, and fell on him, and there were so many of them that he could not defend himself from them. They dragged him about on the floor, pinched him, pricked him, beat him, and tormented him, but no sound escaped from him. Towards morning they disappeared, and he was so exhausted that he could scarcely move his limbs, but when day dawned the black maiden came to him. She bore in her hand a little bottle wherein was the water of life wherewith she washed him, and he at once felt all pain depart and new strength flow through his veins. She said, „Thou hast held out successfully for one night, but two more lie before thee.“ Then she went away again, and as she was going, he observed that her feet had become white. The next night the devils came and began their gambols anew. They fell on the King’s son, and beat him much more severely than the night before, until his body was covered with wounds. But as he bore all quietly, they were forced to leave him, and when dawn appeared, the maiden came and healed him with the water of life. And when she went away, he saw with joy that she had already become white to the tips of her fingers. And now he had only one night more to go through, but it was the worst. The hob-goblins came again: „Art thou there still?“ cried they, „thou shalt be tormented till thy breath stops.“ They pricked him and beat him, and threw him here and there, and pulled him by the arms and legs as if they wanted to tear him to pieces, but he bore everything, and never uttered a cry. At last the devils vanished, but he lay fainting there, and did not stir, nor could he raise his eyes to look at the maiden who came in, and sprinkled and bathed him with the water of life. But suddenly he was freed from all pain, and felt fresh and healthy as if he had awakened from sleep, and when he opened his eyes he saw the maiden standing by him, snow-white, and fair as day. „Rise,“ said she, „and swing thy sword three times over the stairs, and then all will be delivered.“ And when he had done that, the whole castle was released from enchantment, and the maiden was a rich King’s daughter. The servants came and said that the table was already set in the great hall, and dinner served up. Then they sat down and ate and drank together, and in the evening the wedding was solemnized with great rejoicings.

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Backgrounds to fairy tale „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“

„The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ is another lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, included in their famous collection „Grimm’s Fairy Tales.“ As with other Grimm’s tales, the story has its roots in the rich oral storytelling tradition of Germany.

The story revolves around a brave and fearless prince who embarks on a series of adventures to prove his courage and strength. He encounters various magical creatures and supernatural beings, including a giant, a talking bear, and a mystical maiden. Along his journey, the prince faces numerous challenges and obstacles, which he must overcome through his fearlessness, wit, and determination.

One of the central themes of „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ is the exploration of courage and the pursuit of personal growth. The prince’s adventures serve as a series of tests that help him develop his character and demonstrate his fearlessness. Additionally, the story contains elements of magical transformation and the power of love, as the prince must break a curse to free the mystical maiden from her enchantment.

As with other fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ can be traced back to the oral storytelling traditions of Germany. These stories were passed down through generations, with each storyteller adding their own unique spin to the narrative. In the early 19th century, the Brothers Grimm began collecting and documenting these stories as part of their efforts to preserve German cultural heritage. Their anthology of fairy tales has since become an essential part of the Western literary canon, influencing countless writers and artists.

In summary, „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ is a tale of courage, transformation, and love, rooted in the oral storytelling traditions of Germany. Its inclusion in the Brothers Grimm’s collection ensures that it remains a part of the broader cultural landscape of fairy tales and continues to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“

„The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ is a fairy tale that offers several interpretations and themes. These interpretations can be explored from various perspectives, such as psychological, social, and moral viewpoints. Some possible interpretations of the story include:

The Journey of Personal Growth and Development: One of the main themes of the story is the journey of personal growth and development. The prince embarks on a quest to prove his courage and fearlessness, and through his adventures, he learns about himself and the world around him. This theme highlights the importance of facing challenges and embracing personal growth.

The Power of Courage and Fearlessness: The prince’s defining characteristic is his fearlessness, which allows him to face and overcome numerous obstacles throughout the story. This theme can be interpreted as a message about the power of courage and the importance of confronting one’s fears in order to achieve success and personal growth.

The Transformative Power of Love: As the prince encounters the mystical maiden and seeks to break her enchantment, the story explores the transformative power of love. Love not only drives the prince to face difficult challenges but also serves as the key to breaking the curse and restoring the maiden’s freedom. This theme highlights the strength and importance of love in overcoming adversity.

The Importance of Humility: Although the prince is fearless, his overconfidence initially causes him to make mistakes and misjudge situations. As the story progresses, he learns the value of humility and becomes more cautious in his approach. This theme serves as a reminder of the importance of humility and the need to balance confidence with caution.

The Role of Magical Helpers: In the story, the prince encounters various magical creatures and beings who aid him on his journey. These helpers serve as symbols of the power of friendship and support, reinforcing the idea that we can achieve more through collaboration and the assistance of others.

Overall, „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ provides multiple avenues for interpretation, allowing readers to explore themes of personal growth, courage, love, humility, and the power of friendship. The story also offers insights into the cultural and historical context of the time when it was collected and recorded by the Brothers Grimm.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“

While „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ is not as well-known as some other Grimm’s fairy tales, it has still inspired a few adaptations and references in various forms of media. Some examples include:

„Der Prinz, der sich vor nichts fürchtete“ (TV Episode, 1964): An episode of the German TV series „Grimms Märchen“ (Grimm’s Fairy Tales) aired in 1964, adapting the story of „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ for television. The series featured live-action adaptations of various Brothers Grimm stories, providing an opportunity for audiences to experience lesser-known tales like this one.

„The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ (Animated Film, 1989): In 1989, an animated film adaptation of „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ was produced by the Soviet animation studio Soyuzmultfilm. This film, titled „Царевич, который ничего не боялся“ (Tsarevich, who was afraid of nothing), offers a vivid animated retelling of the fairy tale, bringing the story to life for audiences across different cultures.

Radio Plays and Audiobooks: Several radio plays and audiobooks have been produced over the years that retell „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing.“ These adaptations provide a different way to experience the story, engaging listeners through the use of voice acting, music, and sound effects.

Picture Books and Retellings: As with many other Grimm’s fairy tales, „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ has been adapted into various picture books and retellings. These versions often feature colorful illustrations and simplified language, making the story more accessible to younger readers.

Though „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ may not have as many adaptations or be as popular as some other Grimm’s fairy tales, these examples demonstrate that the story continues to inspire storytellers and entertain audiences in various forms.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“

„The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ has inspired various adaptations and retellings over the years. Here are a few notable examples:

„The Brave Little Tailor“ (also known as „The Valiant Little Tailor“) is a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm that shares similarities with „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing.“ In this story, a tailor tricks a group of giants into believing he is strong and brave and earns the respect of the king.

The 2010 film „Tangled“ (Disney) draws inspiration from several fairy tales, including „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing.“ The protagonist, Rapunzel, is kidnapped and held captive by a wicked witch until a prince comes to rescue her.

The 2012 film „Jack the Giant Slayer“ features a young farmhand who must rescue a princess from a race of giants. The film incorporates elements of „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing,“ as well as other fairy tales.

In the novel „The Fairy Godmother“ by Mercedes Lackey, the protagonist, Elena Klovis, is a descendant of the prince in „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing.“ She must follow in his footsteps and overcome various obstacles in order to fulfill her destiny.

In the television series „Once Upon a Time,“ the character Prince Charming is based on the hero of „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing.“ Like the prince in the fairy tale, Prince Charming is brave and daring, and he must overcome numerous obstacles to win the heart of his true love.

Overall, „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ has proven to be a popular and enduring fairy tale, inspiring countless adaptations and retellings in various forms of media.

Summary of the plot

„The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ is a lesser-known Grimm’s fairy tale about a fearless prince who embarks on a quest to prove his courage and fearlessness. The prince sets out on a series of adventures, encountering magical creatures and supernatural beings along the way.

On his journey, the prince comes across a talking bear, a giant, and a cursed garden with a mystical maiden. To free the maiden from her enchantment, the prince must complete a series of challenges. He battles the giant, who teaches him the importance of humility and caution, and then seeks a magical ring that can break the curse.

With the help of the talking bear and other magical creatures, the prince eventually finds the ring and uses it to free the maiden. The power of love and the prince’s fearlessness overcome the enchantment, and the garden is restored to its former beauty.

In the end, the prince marries the mystical maiden, and they live happily ever after. The story of „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ serves as a tale of personal growth, courage, love, and the importance of humility, emphasizing the value of facing challenges and overcoming adversity.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“

„The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, who were linguists, cultural researchers, and authors known for their collection of folk tales. The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, first published their collection of stories, „Children’s and Household Tales,“ in 1812, and this collection eventually became known as „Grimms‘ Fairy Tales.“ These stories have been translated into more than 100 languages and are considered an essential part of the Western literary canon.

The Brothers Grimm collected their stories from various sources, including oral traditions, written manuscripts, and from people they knew personally. Their aim was to preserve the cultural heritage of Germanic folklore, which they believed was at risk of being lost due to the modernization and urbanization of the time. The tales often contained moral lessons and reflected the values and beliefs of the Germanic people.

„The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ is a lesser-known tale in the Grimms‘ collection, but it shares some common elements with other fairy tales, such as quests, magical objects, and enchanted beings. The story follows a courageous prince who embarks on a journey to prove his strength and fearlessness. Along the way, he encounters a giant, wild beasts, and an enchanted maiden, all of which he must overcome to achieve his goal.

As with many other fairy tales, „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ incorporates themes of bravery, perseverance, love, and personal growth. These themes are explored through the protagonist’s challenges and the transformative power of love and compassion. The story also reflects the importance of faith and divine guidance, as the prince relies on his belief in God to help him navigate his journey.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“

„The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ is a tale rich with symbolism and themes that can be interpreted in various ways. Some possible interpretations include:

The importance of courage and perseverance: The prince’s fearlessness and determination to complete the tasks set before him, despite the dangers and challenges he faces, are crucial to his success. This story encourages readers to face their fears and not give up in the face of adversity.

The transformative power of love and compassion: The prince’s kindness and willingness to help the black maiden break her curse ultimately lead to their love and marriage. The healing power of the water of life, which is used by the maiden to heal the prince’s wounds, further highlights the theme of love and its ability to heal and transform.

The battle between good and evil: The prince’s confrontations with the giant and the devils symbolize the struggle between good and evil. The prince’s triumph over these malevolent forces shows that good can prevail when one remains true to their values and perseveres through difficult times.

The role of faith and divine guidance: Throughout the story, the prince relies on his faith in God to guide and protect him. This faith is rewarded with divine intervention, such as the healing waters that restore his sight and the lion that defends him against the giant. This theme encourages readers to trust in a higher power for guidance and protection in their own lives.

Personal growth and self-discovery: The prince’s journey is not only an external adventure but also an internal quest for self-discovery and growth. He overcomes various obstacles and learns about his own strength and capabilities along the way. In the end, he emerges as a wiser and more capable individual, ready to face the world with newfound confidence.

These interpretations offer just a few ways to understand „The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing.“ The tale can be seen as a timeless story of courage, love, and personal growth, offering valuable life lessons for readers of all ages.

Summary of the plot

„The King’s Son Who Feared Nothing“ is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm about a fearless and adventurous young prince who leaves his home to explore the world. Along the way, he encounters a giant and his giant-sized nine-pins and balls. The giant, impressed by the prince’s strength, sends him on a quest to fetch an apple from the Tree of Life for his betrothed.

The prince successfully retrieves the apple, and in doing so, gains a magical ring that grants him immense strength. A battle ensues between the prince and the giant over the ring, but the prince’s faithful lion protects him and ultimately kills the giant. The prince loses his eyesight in the process, but eventually regains it after following the guidance of a small bird and bathing his eyes in a healing brook.

Continuing his journey, the prince comes across an enchanted castle with a beautiful but cursed black maiden who seeks his help to break the spell. He must endure three nights of torment by a horde of devils without making a sound. Each night, the black maiden heals his wounds with the water of life and gradually turns white, signifying the weakening of the enchantment.

After successfully enduring the three nights, the prince breaks the spell by swinging his sword over the castle stairs, and the black maiden is revealed to be a rich King’s daughter. They celebrate their victory with a feast and eventually get married, marking the end of the tale with joy and happiness.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
NumberKHM 121
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 590
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH
Readability Index by Björnsson32
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index80.3
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level7.7
Gunning Fog Index10.4
Coleman–Liau Index7.3
SMOG Index8.2
Automated Readability Index8.5
Character Count10.980
Letter Count8.413
Sentence Count94
Word Count2.145
Average Words per Sentence22,82
Words with more than 6 letters198
Percentage of long words9.2%
Number of Syllables2.620
Average Syllables per Word1,22
Words with three Syllables69
Percentage Words with three Syllables3.2%
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