Childstories.org Logo
Menu
Childstories.org Logo
  • 1
  • All Grimm
    Fairy Tales
  • 2
  • Sorted by
    reading time
  • 3
  • Perfect for reading
    aloud
The Three Feathers
Grimm Märchen

The Three Feathers - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 7 min

There was once on a time a King who had three sons, of whom two were clever and wise, but the third did not speak much, and was simple, and was called the Simpleton. When the King had become old and weak, and was thinking of his end, he did not know which of his sons should inherit the kingdom after him. Then he said to them: „Go forth, and he who brings me the most beautiful carpet shall be King after my death.“

And that there should be no dispute amongst them, he took them outside his castle, blew three feathers in the air, and said: „You shall go as they fly.“ One feather flew to the east, the other to the west, but the third flew straight up and did not fly far, but soon fell to the ground. And now one brother went to the right, and the other to the left, and they mocked Simpleton, who was forced to stay where the third feather had fallen.

He sat down and was sad, then all at once he saw that there was a trap-door close by the feather. He raised it up, found some steps, and went down them, and then he came to another door, knocked at it, and heard somebody inside calling:

„Little green maiden small,
Hopping,
Hopping hither and thither;
Hop to the door,
And quickly see who is there.“

The door opened, and he saw a great, fat toad sitting, and round about her a crowd of little toads. The fat toad asked what he wanted? He answered: „I should like to have the prettiest and finest carpet in the world.“ Then she called a young one and said:

„Little green maiden small,
Hopping,
Hopping hither and thither,
Hop quickly and bring me
The great box here.“

The young toad brought the box, and the fat toad opened it, and gave Simpleton a carpet out of it, so beautiful and so fine, that on the earth above, none could have been woven like it. Then he thanked her, and ascended again. The two others had, however, looked on their youngest brother as so stupid that they believed he would find and bring nothing at all. „Why should we give ourselves a great deal of trouble to search?“ said they, and got some coarse handkerchiefs from the first shepherds‘ wives whom they met, and carried them home to the King.

At the same time Simpleton also came back, and brought his beautiful carpet, and when the King saw it he was astonished, and said: „If justice be done, the kingdom belongs to the youngest.“ But the two others let their father have no peace, and said that it was impossible that Simpleton, who in everything lacked understanding, should be King, and entreated him to make a new agreement with them. Then the father said: „He who brings me the most beautiful ring shall inherit the kingdom,“ and led the three brothers out, and blew into the air three feathers, which they were to follow.

Those of the two eldest again went east and west, and Simpleton’s feather flew straight up, and fell down near the door into the earth. Then he went down again to the fat toad, and told her that he wanted the most beautiful ring. She at once ordered her great box to be brought, and gave him a ring out of it, which sparkled with jewels, and was so beautiful that no goldsmith on earth would have been able to make it. The two eldest laughed at Simpleton for going to seek a golden ring. They gave themselves no trouble, but knocked the nails out of an old carriage-ring, and took it to the King; but when Simpleton produced his golden ring, his father again said, „The kingdom belongs to him.“

The two eldest did not cease from tormenting the King until he made a third condition, and declared that the one who brought the most beautiful woman home, should have the kingdom. He again blew the three feathers into the air, and they flew as before. Then Simpleton without more ado went down to the fat toad, and said: „I am to take home the most beautiful woman!“ – „Oh,“ answered the toad, „the most beautiful woman! She is not at hand at the moment, but still thou shalt have her.“ She gave him a yellow turnip which had been hollowed out, to which six mice were harnessed.

Then Simpleton said quite mournfully: „What am I to do with that?“ The toad answered: „Just put one of my little toads into it.“ Then he seized one at random out of the circle, and put her into the yellow coach, but hardly was she seated inside it than she turned into a wonderfully beautiful maiden, and the turnip into a coach, and the six mice into horses. So he kissed her, and drove off quickly with the horses, and took her to the King. His brothers came afterwards.

They had given themselves no trouble at all to seek beautiful girls, but had brought with them the first peasant women they chanced to meet. When the King saw them he said: „After my death the kingdom belongs to my youngest son.“ But the two eldest deafened the King’s ears afresh with their clamour, „We cannot consent to Simpleton’s being King,“ and demanded that the one whose wife could leap through a ring which hung in the centre of the hall should have the preference.

They thought: „The peasant women can do that easily. They are strong enough, but the delicate maiden will jump herself to death.“ The aged King agreed likewise to this. Then the two peasant women jumped, and jumped through the ring, but were so stout that they fell, and their coarse arms and legs broke in two. And then the pretty maiden whom Simpleton had brought with him, sprang, and sprang through as lightly as a deer, and all opposition had to cease. So he received the crown, and has ruled wisely for a length of time.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The Three Feathers“

„The Three Feathers“ is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm and included in their renowned anthology „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“ (Children’s and Household Tales), first published in 1812. The story originates from the European oral storytelling tradition, passed down through generations before being recorded by the Grimm brothers. The fairy tale has been retold and adapted in various forms over the years, with some versions emphasizing different aspects of the story.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were dedicated to preserving the folktales and oral storytelling traditions of their time. They compiled their collection of stories from ordinary people, often from the lower classes, with the intention of creating a comprehensive collection of traditional German and European folktales. The tale of „The Three Feathers“ explores themes such as the power of kindness, the importance of not underestimating others, and the rewards that can come from overcoming obstacles. Like many other fairy tales, it incorporates elements of magic and the triumph of good over evil.

The background of „The Three Feathers“ is rooted in the oral storytelling traditions of European culture. The Brothers Grimm played a significant role in preserving and popularizing the tale, but it is important to remember that the story has evolved over time and that different versions may focus on various aspects of the narrative. The Brothers Grimm were German academics, philologists, cultural researchers, and authors who together specialized in collecting and publishing folklore during the early 19th century. Born in the late 18th century, they were part of the German Romantic movement, which sought to revive and preserve traditional stories, legends, and folktales that were in danger of being lost due to industrialization and modernization.

Their collection of stories, which has been translated into numerous languages and adapted into various forms of media, includes some of the most famous fairy tales, such as „Cinderella,“ „Snow White,“ „Rapunzel,“ „Hansel and Gretel,“ and „The Frog Prince.“ The tales often feature moral lessons, fantastical elements, and archetypal characters that have become an integral part of Western culture. „The Three Feathers“ is a lesser-known tale from their collection, but it still embodies the themes and motifs commonly found in their stories, such as the power of kindness and humility, the importance of inner beauty, and the idea that people can overcome challenges and adversity to reach their true potential.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The Three Feathers“

„The Three Feathers“ offers several interpretations that can be drawn from its story:

Underestimation and Hidden Potential: The Simpleton is constantly underestimated by his brothers and even his father due to his quiet and simple-minded nature. However, he proves that he has hidden potential and wisdom when he successfully completes the tests set by his father. This theme reminds readers not to judge people based on their appearances or initial impressions.

The Power of Kindness and Humility: Throughout the story, the Simpleton remains humble and kind, treating the fat toad and her little toads with respect. In contrast, his brothers are arrogant and dismissive, taking shortcuts and assuming they will win. The Simpleton’s kindness and humility are rewarded, while his brothers‘ arrogance leads to their downfall.

The Role of Fate and Destiny: The feathers blown by the king seem to guide each son towards their destiny. While the two elder brothers follow their feathers to the east and west, the Simpleton’s feather leads him to the underground realm of the fat toad. This suggests that destiny has a role to play in the characters‘ lives and the ultimate outcome of the story.

Inner Beauty and Transformation: The story emphasizes the importance of inner beauty, as seen in the transformations of the toad into a beautiful maiden and the turnip into a magnificent coach. These transformations symbolize the idea that true beauty and value come from within, rather than from superficial appearances.

The Importance of Perseverance and Resilience: The Simpleton faces numerous obstacles and setbacks throughout the story, but he continues to persevere, showing resilience in the face of adversity. His determination to succeed and his unwavering belief in himself ultimately lead to his triumph over his brothers and his rightful place as king.“The Three Feathers“ offers several interpretations that can be drawn from its story:

Underestimation and Hidden Potential: The Simpleton is constantly underestimated by his brothers and even his father due to his quiet and simple-minded nature. However, he proves that he has hidden potential and wisdom when he successfully completes the tests set by his father. This theme reminds readers not to judge people based on their appearances or initial impressions.

The Power of Kindness and Humility: Throughout the story, the Simpleton remains humble and kind, treating the fat toad and her little toads with respect. In contrast, his brothers are arrogant and dismissive, taking shortcuts and assuming they will win. The Simpleton’s kindness and humility are rewarded, while his brothers‘ arrogance leads to their downfall.

The Role of Fate and Destiny: The feathers blown by the king seem to guide each son towards their destiny. While the two elder brothers follow their feathers to the east and west, the Simpleton’s feather leads him to the underground realm of the fat toad. This suggests that destiny has a role to play in the characters‘ lives and the ultimate outcome of the story.

Inner Beauty and Transformation: The story emphasizes the importance of inner beauty, as seen in the transformations of the toad into a beautiful maiden and the turnip into a magnificent coach. These transformations symbolize the idea that true beauty and value come from within, rather than from superficial appearances.

The Importance of Perseverance and Resilience: The Simpleton faces numerous obstacles and setbacks throughout the story, but he continues to persevere, showing resilience in the face of adversity. His determination to succeed and his unwavering belief in himself ultimately lead to his triumph over his brothers and his rightful place as king.

These interpretations of „The Three Feathers“ highlight various aspects of human nature and the human experience, as well as the moral lessons that can be drawn from the tale. Like many other fairy tales, this story serves as a vehicle for exploring universal themes and values that resonate across cultures and generations.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The Three Feathers“

„The Three Feathers“ is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, who were well-known for their collection of folktales and legends from various European traditions. The tale was first published in their collection „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“ (Children’s and Household Tales) in 1812, and has since become a classic in the world of fairy tales. „The Three Feathers“ has been adapted in various forms over the years, including books, film, television, and theater. These adaptations often put their own spin on the story, emphasizing different aspects of the tale or modernizing it for contemporary audiences. Here are some specific examples of adaptations:

Books and illustrated editions: Numerous illustrated editions of „The Three Feathers“ have been published over the years, often as part of larger collections of fairy tales. These editions bring the story to life through vivid artwork and may adapt the text for younger readers. The story has been adapted into numerous children’s books, including „The Three Feathers“ by Margaret Hodges and Eric Carle, which retells the story in a picture book format, and „The Three Feathers“ by Robert D. San Souci, which is a retelling of the tale with an African-American protagonist.

Films: „The Tale of the Three Feathers“ (2014): A short film adaptation of „The Three Feathers“ directed by Christopher Kaufman. The film stays true to the original fairy tale while using a unique visual style and creative storytelling techniques to bring the story to life. The story has been adapted into several films and TV shows, including the 1977 Soviet film „The Three Feathers,“ the 2004 German TV movie „The Three Feathers,“ and the 2014 French animated film „The Prince and the 108 Demons,“ which is loosely based on the tale.

Animated Films:„Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics“ (1987-1989): This Japanese animated television series adapts various fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, including „The Three Feathers“ in an episode with the same title. The story is retold with some changes to the plot, such as the inclusion of talking animals and other magical elements. „SimsalaGrimm“ (1999-2010):This German animated television series adapts a variety of Grimm’s fairy tales, including „The Three Feathers“ in an episode with the same title. The series often adds a modern twist to the classic tales, with the protagonists Yoyo and Doc Croc traveling to the world of fairy tales to help solve problems and set things right.

Theater adaptations: „The Three Feathers“ has been adapted for the stage in various forms, including plays, musicals, and puppet shows. These productions often use creative approaches to portray the magical elements of the story and may reinterpret the tale to emphasize different themes or lessons.

Operas and Ballets: The story has also been adapted into operas and ballets, such as the 1910 opera „Der Federhut“ by Siegfried Wagner, and the 1958 ballet „The Three Feathers“ by John Cranko.

These adaptations of „The Three Feathers“ demonstrate the enduring appeal of the fairy tale and its ability to inspire creativity across different media. While the core story remains the same, each adaptation brings its unique perspective and interpretation, ensuring that the tale continues to resonate with new generations of readers and audiences. Each adaptation puts its own spin on the story, adding new elements and interpretations to the original tale. However, the themes of perseverance, kindness, and individual merit remain central to most adaptations of „The Three Feathers.“

Summary of the plot

„The Three Feathers“ is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm about a king who has three sons, two of whom are clever and wise, while the third, called the Simpleton, is quiet and simple-minded. As the king becomes old and weak, he decides to test his sons by asking them to bring him the most beautiful carpet. He blows three feathers into the air, directing each son to follow the feather’s path. The Simpleton’s feather leads him to a trap door where he meets a fat toad and her little toads. The fat toad gives him a beautiful carpet, while his brothers bring coarse handkerchiefs.

Unsatisfied with the result, the brothers convince their father to conduct another test: the most beautiful ring. The same events unfold, with the Simpleton being led to the fat toad, who provides him with a dazzling ring. His brothers, however, present the king with a simple carriage-ring. The third test asks for the most beautiful woman. The fat toad gives Simpleton a yellow turnip, which transforms into a magnificent coach when a little toad is placed inside. The toad turns into a beautiful maiden, while the brothers bring peasant women. In a final challenge, the king asks whose wife can leap through a hanging ring. The peasant women fail, but the beautiful maiden succeeds with grace. The Simpleton is crowned king, and rules wisely for a long time.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
NumberKHM 63
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 402
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES, FR, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH,
Readability Index by Björnsson34.8
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index77.7
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level7.8
Gunning Fog Index10.2
Coleman–Liau Index8.8
SMOG Index9.2
Automated Readability Index9.1
Character Count5.531
Letter Count4.259
Sentence Count47
Word Count1.020
Average Words per Sentence21,70
Words with more than 6 letters134
Percentage of long words13.1%
Number of Syllables1.291
Average Syllables per Word1,27
Words with three Syllables50
Percentage Words with three Syllables4.9%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

Questions, comments or experience reports?

Privacy policy.

The best fairy tales

Copyright © 2024 - All rights reserved | Imprint | Privacy policyPowered by childstories.org

Keine Internetverbindung


Sie sind nicht mit dem Internet verbunden. Bitte überprüfen Sie Ihre Netzwerkverbindung.


Versuchen Sie Folgendes:


  • 1. Prüfen Sie Ihr Netzwerkkabel, ihren Router oder Ihr Smartphone

  • 2. Aktivieren Sie ihre Mobile Daten -oder WLAN-Verbindung erneut

  • 3. Prüfen Sie das Signal an Ihrem Standort

  • 4. Führen Sie eine Netzwerkdiagnose durch