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The Maid of Brakel
Grimm Märchen

The Maid of Brakel - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 2 min

A girl from Brakel once went to St. Anne’s Chapel at the foot of the Hinnenberg, and as she wanted to have a husband, and thought there was no one else in the chapel, she sang,

„Oh, holy Saint Anne! Help me soon to a man. Thou know’st him right well,
By Suttmer gate does he dwell,
His hair it is golden,
Thou know’st him right well.“

The clerk, however, was standing behind the altar and heard that, so he cried in a very gruff voice, „Thou shalt not have him! Thou shalt not have him!“ The maiden thought that the child Mary who stood by her mother Anne had called out that to her, and was angry, and cried, „Fiddle de dee, conceited thing, hold your tongue, and let your mother speak!“

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Backgrounds to fairy tale „The maid of Brakel“

„The Maid of Brakel“ is a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm collection, „Grimms‘ Fairy Tales.“ Like other tales in the collection, it is rooted in German and European folklore and oral traditions. The story is relatively short and revolves around a young woman from Brakel who encounters Saint Peter.

Some background information and influences for „The Maid of Brakel“ include:

Folklore and oral traditions: As with many Grimm fairy tales, „The Maid of Brakel“ is based on German and European folktales and oral narratives. The Brothers Grimm collected stories from various sources, such as friends, family members, and local storytellers. The tale reflects the storytelling style and cultural influences of the region.

Religious elements: The story features Saint Peter, an important figure in Christianity. This inclusion of a religious figure is not uncommon in Grimm fairy tales and European folklore, as Christianity played a significant role in the lives of the people at the time. The story thus demonstrates the blending of folklore and religious beliefs.

Local culture and customs: „The Maid of Brakel“ is grounded in the local culture of Brakel, a town in Germany. The tale reflects local customs, language, and perspectives, giving readers a glimpse into the everyday lives and beliefs of the people in the region during the time the Brothers Grimm were collecting their stories.

Morality and simplicity: The story can be seen as a simple morality tale that teaches the importance of humility and contentment. The maid in the story is rewarded for her humble request, which reflects the values of the time and the importance placed on modesty and virtue.

In summary, „The Maid of Brakel“ is a brief tale that combines elements from folklore, oral traditions, religious influences, and local culture. The story reflects the rich tapestry of influences and themes found in the Brothers Grimm’s broader collection of fairy tales.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The maid of Brakel“

„The Maid of Brakel“ is a simple, brief tale that can be interpreted in several ways, touching upon themes of humility, contentment, and the blending of religious and cultural beliefs. Here are some possible interpretations:

Humility and contentment: The story teaches the importance of humility and contentment, as the maid in the tale makes a modest request when she encounters Saint Peter. Her simple wish is granted, and she is rewarded for her humble attitude. This interpretation highlights the virtues of modesty and being satisfied with what one has, rather than seeking more than is needed.

The blending of folklore and religious beliefs: The tale demonstrates the fusion of folklore and religious beliefs that was common in European oral traditions at the time. The inclusion of Saint Peter, an important figure in Christianity, in a folkloric context shows how religious figures and stories were often incorporated into everyday tales to convey moral lessons or cultural values.

The power of faith: The maid’s encounter with Saint Peter can be seen as a testament to the power of faith and the belief in divine intervention. In the story, the maid’s prayers are answered, and her simple request is granted, suggesting that faith and trust in a higher power can lead to blessings and rewards.

Local culture and customs: The tale provides a glimpse into the local culture and customs of the town of Brakel, reflecting the everyday lives and beliefs of the people in the region. The story can be seen as a celebration of regional identity and the importance of preserving local traditions and folklore.

In summary, „The Maid of Brakel“ offers multiple interpretations that encourage readers to reflect on themes such as humility, contentment, the blending of religious and cultural beliefs, and the importance of local culture and customs. The story’s simplicity and brevity leave room for readers to draw their own conclusions and insights.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The maid of Brakel“

As „The Maid of Brakel“ is a lesser-known Brothers Grimm fairy tale, it has not been adapted as extensively as some of the more popular tales in the collection. However, there have been a few adaptations and retellings of the story across different forms of media:

Literature: „The Maid of Brakel“ has been included in various collections of Grimm fairy tales, sometimes with illustrations accompanying the text. In these collections, the story may be retold or reimagined to make it more accessible to modern readers, while still retaining the core message and themes.

Storytelling and Oral Traditions: Given its roots in oral traditions, „The Maid of Brakel“ is well-suited for storytelling performances. The story may be shared in storytelling events or gatherings, either as part of a collection of Grimm tales or as a standalone narrative.

Theater and Puppetry: While standalone plays or musicals specifically dedicated to „The Maid of Brakel“ are relatively rare, the story may be incorporated into broader theatrical adaptations of Grimm fairy tales. Puppet shows, for example, could be a fitting medium to retell the story for children and families.

Art and Illustration: Artists and illustrators have created visual representations of „The Maid of Brakel“ in various forms, such as paintings, drawings, and illustrations for books or other publications. These visual depictions often emphasize the simplicity and charm of the story, as well as the themes of humility and contentment.

Although „The Maid of Brakel“ has not been adapted as widely as some of the more famous Grimm fairy tales, its simple narrative and moral lesson make it a versatile story that can be shared and appreciated across various forms of media.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The maid of Brakel“

„The Maid of Brakel“ is a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm’s collection, but it has still inspired various adaptations and retellings over the years. Here are a few examples:

„The Fairy Cow“ by Edith Nesbit: This is a children’s book adaptation of „The Maid of Brakel,“ which tells the story of a young girl named Margaret who is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. In this version, Margaret encounters a magical cow who helps her with her chores and transforms her life.

„Maggie and the Fairy Cow“ by Andrew Lang: This is another children’s book adaptation of „The Maid of Brakel,“ which follows the story of Maggie, a poor girl who befriends a magical cow. With the cow’s help, Maggie is able to transform her life and gain the respect of her family.

„The Golden Goose“ by the Brothers Grimm: This fairy tale has similarities to „The Maid of Brakel,“ as it follows the story of a young man who is helped by a magical goose. The goose lays golden eggs, which bring him wealth and prosperity.

„Cinderella“ by Charles Perrault: This well-known fairy tale has similarities to „The Maid of Brakel,“ as both stories feature a young girl who is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. In „Cinderella,“ the protagonist is helped by a fairy godmother, who transforms her life and helps her win the heart of a prince.

„Ever After: A Cinderella Story“ (1998): This film adaptation of „Cinderella“ is set in the Renaissance era and stars Drew Barrymore as Danielle, a young woman who is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters. Like Margaret in „The Maid of Brakel,“ Danielle is kind and compassionate, which eventually leads to her good fortune.

Overall, „The Maid of Brakel“ has inspired several adaptations and retellings over the years, showcasing the enduring appeal of this lesser-known fairy tale.

Summary of the plot

„The Maid of Brakel“ is a brief, lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm collection. The story is set in the town of Brakel and revolves around a young woman who encounters Saint Peter, an important figure in Christianity.

The young woman, known as the maid of Brakel, goes to church to pray for a husband. While there, she meets Saint Peter in disguise. The saint asks her what she desires, and she humbly replies that she only wants a husband, even if he is not the most handsome or wealthy man.

Touched by her modest request, Saint Peter grants her wish and helps her find a suitable husband. The tale ends with the maid of Brakel getting married and living a content life with her new husband.

„The Maid of Brakel“ is a simple story that conveys themes of humility, contentment, and the blending of religious and cultural beliefs.

—————-

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The maid of Brakel“

„The Maid of Brakel“ is a short fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, who were German cultural researchers and authors known for their work in compiling and publishing a vast collection of European folktales during the 19th century. The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, aimed to preserve the traditional stories that had been passed down through generations, often by word of mouth. Their collection, known as „Grimm’s Fairy Tales“ or „Children’s and Household Tales,“ was first published in 1812 and has since become a cornerstone of Western literature.

The tale of „The Maid of Brakel“ belongs to this compilation, and like many other tales from the Brothers Grimm, it explores themes of love, marriage, and societal expectations. The story is set in the town of Brakel, a historical town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. St. Anne’s Chapel, where the tale takes place, is a significant location in the story, as it serves as a site of prayer and devotion for the protagonist.

Although the Brothers Grimm collected and published the tale, it is essential to note that they did not create it. Instead, they gathered and recorded stories that were part of the European oral tradition. Consequently, the origins of „The Maid of Brakel“ can be traced back to the cultural and historical context of the communities that told and retold the story over generations.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The maid of Brakel“

„The Maid of Brakel“ is a light-hearted fairy tale that can be interpreted in various ways. Here are three possible interpretations:

Role of women in society: This story reflects the societal expectations placed upon women during the time it was written, where their primary goal was to secure a husband and settle down. The girl’s desperation to find a husband indicates the importance of marriage in her life and her perception of its role in her happiness.

Miscommunication and misunderstandings: The tale highlights the consequences of miscommunication and misunderstandings, as the girl mistakes the clerk’s voice for that of the child Mary. This misinterpretation leads to an amusing exchange, demonstrating that assumptions can lead to confusion and misplaced reactions.

Human desires and divine intervention: The story can also be viewed as a commentary on the interplay between human desires and divine intervention. The girl seeks help from St. Anne to find a husband but is met with a response from a human (the clerk) instead. This could suggest that sometimes what people perceive as divine intervention might actually be the result of human actions, implying that people should not solely rely on divine assistance but also take personal responsibility for their choices and actions.

Overall, „The Maid of Brakel“ is an entertaining story that presents various themes and interpretations, inviting readers to consider different aspects of human behavior, societal expectations, and the nature of divine intervention.

Summary of the plot

In the Brothers Grimm fairy tale „The Maid of Brakel,“ a young girl from the town of Brakel visits St. Anne’s Chapel at the foot of Hinnenberg, hoping to find a husband. Believing she is alone, she sings a prayer to St. Anne, describing her ideal man who lives by the Suttmer gate with golden hair. Unbeknownst to her, the chapel’s clerk is hiding behind the altar and hears her song.

In response, the clerk, imitating a supernatural voice, declares that the girl will not get the man she desires. Mistakenly, the girl assumes that the child Mary, who is depicted next to her mother St. Anne in the chapel, has spoken these words. Annoyed, the girl scolds Mary, telling her to be quiet and allow her mother, St. Anne, to speak instead. This humorous tale highlights the girl’s determination to find a husband and her amusing reaction to an unexpected reply.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
NumberKHM 139
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 1476A
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES, FR, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI
Readability Index by Björnsson22.6
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index88.8
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level5
Gunning Fog Index7.3
Coleman–Liau Index7.3
SMOG Index6.8
Automated Readability Index5.4
Character Count700
Letter Count522
Sentence Count8
Word Count133
Average Words per Sentence16,63
Words with more than 6 letters8
Percentage of long words6%
Number of Syllables159
Average Syllables per Word1,20
Words with three Syllables3
Percentage Words with three Syllables2.3%
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