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The Raven
Grimm Märchen

The Raven - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 17 min

There was once upon a time a Queen who had a little daughter who was still so young that she had to be carried. One day the child was naughty, and the mother might say what she liked, but the child would not be quiet. Then she became impatient, and as the ravens were flying about the palace, she opened the window and said, „I wish you were a raven and would fly away, and then I should have some rest.“ Scarcely had she spoken the words, before the child was changed into a raven, and flew from her arms out of the window. It flew into a dark forest, and stayed in it a long time, and the parents heard nothing of their child. Then one day a man was on his way through this forest and heard the raven crying, and followed the voice, and when he came nearer, the bird said, „I am a king’s daughter by birth, and am bewitched, but thou canst set me free.“ – „What am I to do,“ asked he. She said, „Go further into the forest, and thou wilt find a house, wherein sits an aged woman, who will offer thee meat and drink, but you must accept nothing, for if you eatest and drinkest anything, thou wilt fall into a sleep, and then thou wilt not be able to deliver me. In the garden behind the house there is a great heap of tan, and on this thou shalt stand and wait for me. For three days I will come every afternoon at two o’clock in a carriage. On the first day four white horses will be harnessed to it, then four chestnut horses, and lastly four black ones; but if thou art not awake, but sleeping, I shall not be set free.“ The man promised to do everything that she desired, but the raven said, alas, „I know already that thou wilt not deliver me; thou wilt accept something from the woman.“ Then the man once more promised that he would certainly not touch anything either to eat or to drink. But when he entered the house the old woman came to him and said, „Poor man, how faint you are; come and refresh yourself; eat and drink.“ – „No,“ said the man, „I will not eat or drink.“ She, however, let him have no peace, and said, „If you will not eat, take one drink out of the glass. One is nothing.“ Then he let himself be persuaded, and drank. Shortly before two o’clock in the afternoon he went into the garden to the tan heap to wait for the raven. As he was standing there, his weariness all at once became so great that he could not struggle against it, and lay down for a short time, but he was determined not to go to sleep. Hardly, however, had he lain down, than his eyes closed of their own accord, and he fell asleep and slept so soundly that nothing in the world could have aroused him. At two o’clock the raven came driving up with four white horses, but she was already in deep grief and said, „I know he is asleep.“ And when she came into the garden, he was indeed lying there asleep on the heap of tan. She alighted from the carriage, went to him, shook him, and called him, but he did not awake. Next day about noon, the old woman came again and brought him food and drink, but he would not take any of it. But she let him have no rest and persuaded him until at length he again took one drink out of the glass. Towards two o’clock he went into the garden to the tan heap to wait for the raven, but all at once felt such a great weariness that his limbs would no longer support him. He could not help himself, and was forced to lie down, and fell into a heavy sleep. When the raven drove up with four brown horses, she was already full of grief, and said, „I know he is asleep.“ She went to him, but there he lay sleeping, and there was no wakening him. Next day the old woman asked what was the meaning of this? He was neither eating nor drinking anything; did he want to die? He replied, „I am not allowed to eat or drink, and will not do so.“ But she set a dish with food, and a glass with wine before him, and when he smelt it he could not resist, and swallowed a deep draught. When the time came, he went out into the garden to the heap of tan, and waited for the King’s daughter; but he became still more weary than on the day before, and lay down and slept as soundly as if he had been a stone. At two o’clock the raven came with four black horses, and the coachman and everything else was black. She was already in the deepest grief, and said, „I know that he is asleep and cannot deliver me.“ When she came to him, there he was lying fast asleep. She shook him and called him, but she could not waken him. Then she laid a loaf beside him, and after that a piece of meat, and thirdly a bottle of wine, and he might consume as much of all of them as he liked, but they would never grow less. After this she took a gold ring from her finger, and put it on his, and her name was graven on it. Lastly, she laid a letter beside him wherein was written what she had given him, and that none of the things would ever grow less; and in it was also written, „I see right well that here you will never be able to deliver me, but if thou art still willing to deliver me, come to the golden castle of Stromberg. It lies in thy power, of that I am certain.“ And when she had given him all these things, she seated herself in her carriage, and drove to the golden castle of Stromberg. When the man awoke and saw that he had slept, he was sad at heart, and said, „She has certainly driven by, and I have not set her free.“ Then he perceived the things which were lying beside him, and read the letter wherein was written how everything had happened. So he arose and went away, intending to go to the golden castle of Stromberg, but he did not know where it was. After he had walked about the world for a long time, he entered into a dark forest, and walked for fourteen days, and still could not find his way out. Then it was once more evening, and he was so tired that he lay down in a thicket and fell asleep. Next day he went onwards, and in the evening, as he was again about to lie down beneath some bushes, he heard such a howling and crying that he could not go to sleep. And at the time when people light the candles, he saw one glimmering, and arose and went towards it. Then he came to a house which seemed very small, for in front of it a great giant was standing. He thought to himself, „If I go in, and the giant sees me, it will very likely cost me my life.“

At length he ventured it and went in. When the giant saw him, he said, „It is well that thou comest, for it is long since I have eaten. I will at once eat thee for my supper.“ – „I’d rather you would leave that alone,“ said the man, „I do not like to be eaten; but if thou hast any desire to eat, I have quite enough here to satisfy thee.“ – „If that be true,“ said the giant, „thou mayst be easy, I was only going to devour thee because I had nothing else.“ Then they went, and sat down to the table, and the man took out the bread, wine, and meat which would never come to an end. „This pleases me well,“ said the giant, and ate to his heart’s content. Then the man said to him, Canst thou tell me where the golden castle of Stromberg is?“ The giant said, „I will look at my map; all the towns, and villages, and houses are to be found on it.“ He brought out the map which he had in the room and looked for the castle, but it was not to be found on it. „It’s no matter!“ said he, „I have some still larger maps in my cupboard upstairs, and we will look in them.“ But there, too, it was in vain. The man now wanted to go onwards, but the giant begged him to wait a few days longer until his brother, who had gone out to bring some provisions, came home. When the brother came home they inquired about the golden castle of Stromberg. He replied, „When I have eaten and have had enough, I will look in the map.“ Then he went with them up to his chamber, and they searched in his map, but could not find it. Then he brought out still older maps, and they never rested until they found the golden castle of Stromberg, but it was many thousand miles away. „How am I to get there?“ asked the man. The giant said, „I have two hours‘ time, during which I will carry you into the neighbourhood, but after that I must be at home to suckle the child that we have.“ So the giant carried the man to about a hundred leagues from the castle, and said, „Thou canst very well walk the rest of the way alone.“ And he turned back, but the man went onwards day and night, until at length he came to the golden castle of Stromberg. It stood on a glass-mountain, and the bewitched maiden drove in her carriage round the castle, and then went inside it. He rejoiced when he saw her and wanted to climb up to her, but when he began to do so he always slipped down the glass again. And when he saw that he could not reach her, he was filled with trouble, and said to himself, „I will stay down here below, and wait for her.“ So he built himself a hut and stayed in it for a whole year, and every day saw the King’s daughter driving about above, but never could go to her. Then one day he saw from his hut three robbers who were beating each other, and cried to them, „God be with ye!“ They stopped when they heard the cry, but as they saw no one, they once more began to beat each other, and that too most dangerously. So he again cried, „God be with ye!“ Again they stopped, looked round about, but as they saw no one they went on beating each other. Then he cried for the third time, „God be with ye,“ and thought, „I must see what these three are about,“ and went thither and asked why they were beating each other so furiously. One of them said that he found a stick, and that when he struck a door with it, that door would spring open. The next said that he had found a mantle, and that whenever he put it on, he was invisible, but the third said he had found a horse on which a man could ride everywhere, even up the glass-mountain. And now they did not know whether they ought to have these things in common, or whether they ought to divide them. Then the man said, „I will give you something in exchange for these three things. Money indeed have I not, but I have other things of more value; but first I must try yours to see if you have told the truth.“ Then they put him on the horse, threw the mantle round him, and gave him the stick in his hand, and when he had all these things they were no longer able to see him. So he gave them some vigorous blows and cried, „Now, vagabonds, you have got what you deserve, are you satisfied?“ And he rode up the glass-mountain, but when he came in front of the castle at the top, it was shut. Then he struck the door with his stick, and it sprang open immediately. He went in and ascended the stairs until he came to the hall where the maiden was sitting with a golden cup full of wine before her. She, however, could not see him because he had the mantle on. And when he came up to her, he drew from his finger the ring which she had given him, and threw it into the cup so that it rang. Then she cried, „That is my ring, so the man who is to set me free must be here.“ They searched the whole castle and did not find him, but he had gone out, and had seated himself on the horse and thrown off the mantle. When they came to the door, they saw him and cried aloud in their delight.* Then he alighted and took the King’s daughter in his arms, but she kissed him and said, „Now hast thou set me free, and to-morrow we will celebrate our wedding.“

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The Raven“

„The Raven“ is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their renowned compilation, „Grimms‘ Fairy Tales.“ The story, also known as „The Raven Queen“ or „The Raven King,“ is numbered as Tale 93 in their collection. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were German scholars, linguists, and folklorists who sought to collect, preserve, and share European folklore, contributing to the development of the modern fairy tale genre in the 19th century.

The tale follows a queen who wishes for a child and eventually gives birth to a son with the help of a magical raven. The raven claims the child as his own, and the boy grows up in the raven’s kingdom. As an adult, the prince sets out on a quest to find and rescue a princess from an enchantment. Along the journey, the prince faces various trials and obstacles, which he overcomes with the aid of magical items and his own resourcefulness. Ultimately, the prince frees the princess and marries her, and they return to his kingdom to rule together.

The background of „The Raven“ can be traced back to European oral traditions that existed before the Brothers Grimm recorded the story. The tale shares elements with other folktales and fairy tales, such as magical transformations, enchanted princesses, and quests for true love. The story explores themes of fate, courage, and the power of love, while also emphasizing the importance of resourcefulness and determination in overcoming challenges.

As with many other Grimm fairy tales, „The Raven“ has been adapted and retold in various forms, including written, stage, and screen adaptations. Each version may have its unique variations, but the core message of love, bravery, and persistence remains consistent.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The Raven“

„The Raven“ from the Brothers Grimm offers various interpretations that highlight its depth and relevance. Some of the prominent interpretations include:

The power of love: The fairy tale emphasizes the transformative power of love. The love between the prince and the princess ultimately leads to the breaking of the enchantment and the restoration of happiness in their lives. The story suggests that love can overcome even the most formidable obstacles.

Fate and destiny: The tale explores the themes of fate and destiny, as the queen’s wish for a child sets off a chain of events that lead to the prince’s birth and eventual journey. The prince is destined to save the princess and fulfill his role as a hero, showing that destiny can guide individuals towards their true purpose.

Overcoming obstacles: The prince faces numerous challenges on his quest to save the princess, but he remains determined and resourceful throughout his journey. This interpretation highlights the importance of perseverance, courage, and resourcefulness in overcoming adversity and achieving one’s goals.

The role of magical assistance: The prince receives help from magical items and the raven, demonstrating that assistance from unexpected sources can be instrumental in achieving success. This theme emphasizes the importance of being open to help from others and recognizing the value of support in overcoming challenges.

Transformation and personal growth: The story features various transformations, both physical and emotional, that contribute to the characters‘ development. The raven transforms into a man, and the prince grows into a heroic figure as he faces adversity. This interpretation highlights the potential for personal growth and change when confronted with challenges and the transformative power of love.

These interpretations illustrate the richness and depth of „The Raven,“ making it a timeless and meaningful story for readers of all ages.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The Raven“

Although „The Raven“ is not among the most famous of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, it has been adapted and retold in various forms, keeping the core themes of love, courage, and transformation intact. Some adaptations of this story include:

Literature: Retellings of „The Raven“ can be found in various fairy tale collections and anthologies. Authors may reimagine the story to make it more appealing to modern readers or to explore different perspectives, such as focusing on the raven’s point of view.

Children’s Books: Simplified and illustrated versions of the story have been created for younger readers, making the tale accessible and engaging for children. These adaptations often focus on the themes of love, courage, and the transformative power of determination.

Radio Dramas: Audio adaptations of „The Raven“ have been produced for radio, allowing listeners to engage with the story in a different format. The tale’s strong narrative and engaging dialogue make it well-suited for a radio drama.

Stage Plays: The story has been adapted for the stage, with some productions incorporating music and dance elements. These adaptations often emphasize the themes of love, transformation, and the power of determination, making for an entertaining theatrical experience.

Television and Film: While there may not be a direct adaptation of „The Raven“ as a standalone film or television show, the story’s themes and motifs have influenced other films and television series featuring magical transformations, enchanted princesses, and heroic quests for true love.

Animated Series: Elements of „The Raven“ have been incorporated into animated television series and movies, particularly those that explore themes of love, courage, and transformation. The story’s magical elements and engaging narrative make it well-suited for animated adaptations.

While „The Raven“ may not have as many direct adaptations as some other Grimm tales, its themes and motifs continue to inspire and influence various forms of media. The story’s emphasis on love, bravery, and transformation make it a timeless and universally appealing tale.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The Raven“

„The Raven“ is a fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm that has inspired many adaptations over the years, including:

Edgar Allan Poe’s poem „The Raven“: Perhaps the most famous adaptation of „The Raven“ is Edgar Allan Poe’s poem of the same name, which was published in 1845. Poe’s poem features a raven that enters a man’s chamber and repeats the word „nevermore,“ driving the man to madness. While Poe’s poem is not a direct adaptation of the Grimm’s fairy tale, it is believed to have been inspired by it.

„The Raven“ ballet: The story has also been adapted into a ballet, with music by Igor Stravinsky and choreography by George Balanchine. The ballet premiered in 1980 and tells the story of a prince who is turned into a raven by an evil sorcerer.

„The Raven“ opera: In 1975, the American composer Philip Glass wrote an opera based on „The Raven.“ The opera features a libretto by Arthur Yorinks and was premiered at the Spoleto Festival in Italy.

„The Raven“ animated film: In 2012, a Russian animated film called „The Raven“ was released, which is based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. The film tells the story of a young princess who falls in love with a raven that she believes to be a prince.

„The Raven“ video game: In 2012, a video game called „The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief“ was released, which takes its name and inspiration from the Grimm’s fairy tale. The game is a point-and-click adventure that follows a detective as he investigates a series of thefts on board a luxury train.

Overall, „The Raven“ has inspired a wide range of adaptations, reflecting the enduring popularity and relevance of the story.

Summary of the plot

„The Raven“ is a fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm that tells the story of a queen’s wish for a child, the prince’s journey to save an enchanted princess, and the transformative power of love and determination.

The tale begins with a queen who wishes for a child and seeks the help of a magical raven. The raven agrees to grant her wish, but in return, the raven claims the child as his own. The queen gives birth to a son, who is then taken by the raven to be raised in his kingdom.

As the prince grows older, he learns of a beautiful princess who has been turned into a statue by an enchantment. Determined to save her, the prince sets out on a quest, guided by the raven. Along the journey, the prince encounters various trials and obstacles, which he overcomes with the help of magical items given to him by the raven.

One of the challenges the prince faces is retrieving a magical golden key from the depths of a lake. He uses a magical fishing rod provided by the raven to catch a fish that contains the key. With the key in hand, the prince continues his journey to find the enchanted princess.

Upon reaching the princess, the prince uses the golden key to unlock the door to the chamber where she is held. He breaks the enchantment by praying, and the princess comes back to life. The prince and the princess fall in love and decide to marry.

As they journey back to the prince’s kingdom, the raven reveals that he was once a man, transformed into a raven as punishment for a misdeed. The prince’s act of breaking the enchantment has also lifted the curse from the raven, who transforms back into a man. The prince and princess return to the kingdom, where they marry and rule together happily.

„The Raven“ is a tale of love, courage, and transformation, emphasizing the power of determination and the importance of overcoming obstacles in the pursuit of true happiness.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „The Raven“

„The Raven“ is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, and published in their famous anthology, „Grimms‘ Fairy Tales“ (Kinder- und Hausmärchen), first published in 1812. The Brothers Grimm were German academics, linguists, and cultural researchers who collected and published numerous folk and fairy tales as part of their work in the early 19th century. Their anthology is considered a cornerstone of Western folklore and has been translated into numerous languages, influencing generations of readers, writers, and artists.

The story of „The Raven“ revolves around a queen who wishes her unruly daughter would become a raven and fly away. To her surprise, her wish comes true, and her daughter is transformed into a raven. The narrative follows a man who, after discovering the raven princess, embarks on a quest to break her curse and save her, encountering various challenges and temptations along the way.

„The Raven“ shares elements with other fairy tales and myths in which characters must undertake a difficult journey, overcome challenges, and resist temptations to save or rescue someone. These stories often emphasize the importance of determination, love, and moral strength in overcoming adversity.

Though the Brothers Grimm collected and popularized this tale, variations of the story may have existed in oral tradition before their work. The Brothers Grimm’s stories were not originally intended for children, as they often included darker themes and adult content. Over time, however, the stories were adapted, sanitized, and modified for younger audiences, becoming part of the literary tradition for children and adults alike.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The Raven“

„The Raven“ can be interpreted in various ways, highlighting themes such as transformation, determination, temptation, and the power of love.

Transformation: The story begins with the transformation of the princess into a raven, representing the idea that words and wishes can have unforeseen consequences. The transformation also reflects the theme of change, as people may undergo unexpected transformations throughout their lives.

Determination: The man’s journey to find and save the princess demonstrates the importance of determination and persistence in overcoming obstacles. He faces many challenges, including resisting temptation and finding the golden castle of Stromberg. Despite his failures and the long journey, he never gives up.

Temptation: Temptation is a recurring theme in the story, as the man is tempted by the old woman’s food and drink, which ultimately leads to his failure to stay awake during the princess’s visits. This aspect of the tale highlights the human struggle to resist temptation and maintain self-control, even when faced with seemingly irresistible offers.

The power of love: The driving force behind the man’s determination to save the princess is love. Despite their limited interactions, their love transcends the barriers of enchantment and distance. The story conveys the message that love has the power to motivate people to overcome great obstacles and achieve seemingly impossible feats.

Resourcefulness and cunning: The man’s encounter with the three robbers and his exchange of the never-ending food and wine for the magical items shows his resourcefulness and cunning. He uses these newfound powers to reach the princess, demonstrating that sometimes one must rely on their wit and intelligence to achieve their goals.

Overall, „The Raven“ is a rich and engaging fairy tale that explores themes relevant to human experiences, showcasing the importance of determination, the power of love, and the struggle against temptation.

Summary of the plot

„The Raven“ is a fairy tale by Brothers Grimm about a queen who wishes her crying daughter to be turned into a raven. The daughter is instantly transformed and flies into a dark forest. One day, a man hears the raven crying and learns that she is a bewitched princess. The raven tells him how to set her free: by not eating or drinking anything from an old woman’s house and staying awake on a tan heap for three days while she arrives in a carriage drawn by different colored horses each day.

The man promises to do so but fails to resist the temptation of the old woman’s offerings, causing him to fall asleep each time the princess arrives. Disappointed, the princess leaves him a loaf, meat, a bottle of wine that never run out, a gold ring, and a letter, inviting him to the golden castle of Stromberg if he is still willing to save her. Unsure of the castle’s location, the man sets off on a long journey.

During his travels, he encounters a giant who has a map showing the castle’s location. The giant carries the man partway to the castle before leaving him to walk the remaining distance. The man finally reaches the castle, situated on a glass-mountain, but struggles to climb it. He builds a hut at the base of the mountain and waits for a year.

One day, the man encounters three robbers fighting over magical items: a stick that opens doors, a mantle that turns its wearer invisible, and a horse that can climb the glass-mountain. The man tests the items, and once he is sure of their powers, he exchanges them for the never-ending food and drink he received from the princess. Using the magical items, he climbs the glass-mountain, enters the castle, and reunites with the princess. They finally marry the next day, ending the tale on a joyful note.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
NumberKHM 93
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 401
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH
Readability Index by Björnsson30.7
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index81.1
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level7.5
Gunning Fog Index10.2
Coleman–Liau Index6.7
SMOG Index7.9
Automated Readability Index7.8
Character Count11.367
Letter Count8.678
Sentence Count101
Word Count2.266
Average Words per Sentence22,44
Words with more than 6 letters187
Percentage of long words8.3%
Number of Syllables2.759
Average Syllables per Word1,22
Words with three Syllables67
Percentage Words with three Syllables3%
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