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The Wedding of Mrs. Fox
Grimm Märchen

The Wedding of Mrs. Fox - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 6 min

FIRST STORY

There was once on a time an old fox with nine tails, who believed that his wife was not faithful to him, and wished to try her. He stretched himself out under the bench, did not move a limb, and behaved as if he were stone dead. Mrs. Fox went up to her room, shut herself in, and her maid, Miss Cat, sat by the fire, and did the cooking.

When it became known that the old fox was dead, wooers presented themselves. The maid heard some one standing at the house-door, knocking. She went and opened it, and it was a young fox, who said, „What may you be about, Miss Cat.? Do you sleep or do you wake?“

She answered, „I am not sleeping, I am waking, Wouldst thou know what I am making? I am boiling warm beer with butter so nice, will the gentleman enter and drink some likewise?“

„No, thank you, miss,“ said the fox, „what is Mrs. Fox doing?“ The maid replied, „She sits all alone and makes her moan, weeping her little eyes quite red, Because old Mr. Fox is dead.“

„Do just tell her, miss, that a young fox is here, who would like to woo her.“ – „Certainly, young sir.“

The cat goes up the stairs trip, trap, The door she knocks at tap, tap, tap, „Mistress Fox, are you inside?“

„Oh yes, my little cat,“ she cried. „A wooer he stands at the door out there.“

„Tell me what he is like, my dear?“

„But has he nine as beautiful tails as the late Mr. Fox?“ – „Oh, no,“ answered the cat, „he has only one.“

„Then I will not have him.“ Miss Cat went downstairs and sent the wooer away. Soon afterwards there was another knock, and another fox was at the door who wished to woo Mrs. Fox.

He had two tails, but he did not fare better than the first. After this still more came, each with one tail more than the other, but they were all turned away, until at last one came who had nine tails, like old Mr. Fox.

When the widow heard that, she said joyfully to the cat, „Now open the gates and doors all wide, and carry old Mr. Fox outside.“ But just as the wedding was going to be solemnized, old Mr. Fox stirred under the bench, and cudgelled all the rabble, and drove them and Mrs. Fox out of the house.

SECOND STORY

When old Mr. Fox was dead, the wolf came as a wooer, and knocked at the door, and the cat who was servant to Mrs. Fox, opened it for him. The wolf greeted her, and said, „Good day, Mrs. Cat of Kehrewit, „How comes it that alone you sit? What are you making good?“

The cat replied, „In milk I’m breaking bread so sweet, Will the gentleman please come in and eat?“ – „No, thank you, Mrs. Cat,“ answered the wolf. „Is Mrs. Fox not at home?“ The cat said:

„She sits upstairs in her room, Bewailing her sorrowful doom, Bewailing her trouble so sore, For old Mr. Fox is no more.“

The wolf answered: „If she’s in want of a husband now. Then will it please her to step below?“ The cat runs quickly up the stair, And lets her tail fly here and there, Until she comes to the parlour door. With her five gold rings at the door she knocks, „Are you within, good Mistress Fox? If you’re in want of a husband now, Then will it please you to step below? Mrs. Fox asked, „Has the gentleman red stockings on‘ and has he a pointed mouth?“ – „No,“ answered the cat. „Then he won’t do for me.“

When the wolf was gone, came a dog, a stag, a hare, a bear, a lion, and all the beasts of the forest, one after the other. But one of the good points which old Mr. Fox had possessed, was always lacking, and the cat had continually to send the wooers away. At length came a young fox. Then Mrs. Fox said, „Has the gentleman red stockings on, and has he a little pointed mouth?“ – „Yes,“ said the cat, „he has.“

„Then let him come upstairs,“ said Mrs. Fox, and ordered the servant to prepare the wedding-feast. „Sweep me the room as clean as you can, Up with the window, fling out my old man! For many a fine fat mouse he brought, Yet of his wife he never thought, But ate up every one he caught.“ Then the wedding was solemnized with young Mr. Fox, and there was much rejoicing and dancing; and if they have not left off, they are dancing still.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“

„The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their anthology „Grimms‘ Fairy Tales“ or „Kinder- und Hausmärchen.“ It is tale number 38 in their collection. As with many of their stories, this tale is believed to have originated from German oral storytelling traditions. The Brothers Grimm collected and documented folktales from various sources, including friends, family members, and local storytellers, in an effort to preserve the cultural heritage of German-speaking regions. „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ is likely a product of these efforts, as the story has its roots in European folklore.

The tale is unique in that it is divided into two parts: „First Story“ and „Second Story.“ The story primarily revolves around the cunning and resourceful character of Mrs. Fox and her interactions with potential suitors after the death of her husband, Mr. Fox. In the „First Story,“ Mrs. Fox declares that she will only marry a suitor who resembles her late husband in appearance and mannerisms. Several foxes attempt to woo her, but none of them perfectly match her criteria. Eventually, a fox that closely resembles Mr. Fox arrives, and Mrs. Fox agrees to marry him. The „Second Story“ features a more humorous and lighthearted tone. In this part, word spreads that Mr. Fox is dead, and various animals gather to celebrate the event. Mrs. Fox hosts a feast, and the animals compete for her affection. This section of the story emphasizes Mrs. Fox’s wit and charm as she navigates her way through the complex social dynamics of the animal kingdom.

The Brothers Grimm aimed to document and preserve the German oral storytelling tradition, and their collection includes a wide variety of stories, from simple folktales to more complex narratives with moral and ethical lessons. While the tales have been adapted and altered throughout the years, the Grimm’s Fairy Tales are widely recognized for their influence on Western literature and the preservation of traditional stories. „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ is a lesser-known tale compared to some of the more famous stories collected by the Brothers Grimm, such as „Cinderella,“ „Snow White,“ and „Hansel and Gretel.“ Nonetheless, it is an intriguing story that explores themes of loyalty, deception, discernment, societal expectations, and resilience.

„The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ offers insights into themes such as deception, cunning, and the complexities of relationships. While it may not be as well-known as some other Grimm fairy tales, it still presents intriguing characters and a captivating narrative that showcases the diverse range of stories in the Brothers Grimm’s collection. It is important to note that the Brothers Grimm collected and edited stories from various sources, including oral storytelling, manuscripts, and previously published works. Therefore, while „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ is part of the Grimm’s collection, the story itself likely has origins in older folktales that have been passed down through generations.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“

„The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ is an intriguing and lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, offering various interpretations and underlying messages. Some possible interpretations of this story include:

Deception and Cunning: The tale highlights themes of deception and cunning, primarily through the character of Mrs. Fox. Her insistence on marrying a suitor who perfectly resembles her late husband can be seen as a demonstration of her shrewdness and her ability to control her own destiny in a world where animals are trying to take advantage of her situation. The tale demonstrates that appearances can be deceiving. The old fox uses deception to test his wife, and the various suitors may not be as they first appear. The emphasis on physical characteristics, such as tails, stockings, and pointed mouths, underscores the importance of appearances within the story. However, as demonstrated by the old fox’s deception, one’s true nature may not be immediately evident.

The Complexity of Relationships: Another interpretation of the story focuses on the complexities of relationships, as Mrs. Fox navigates her way through a series of suitors. The tale presents different aspects of relationships, such as attraction, compatibility, and the importance of understanding one’s own desires and preferences.

Social Dynamics and Competition: The „Second Story“ of the tale delves into the social dynamics and competition that emerge in the animal kingdom, as various animals vie for Mrs. Fox’s affection. The humorous and lighthearted tone of this part of the story suggests a commentary on the absurdity and competitiveness of social situations.

Independence and Empowerment: Mrs. Fox’s ability to determine her own future and choose a suitable partner can be seen as a symbol of independence and empowerment, particularly for female characters in fairy tales. This interpretation highlights the importance of self-determination and the ability to make choices based on one’s own desires and values.

The Trickster Archetype: The character of Mrs. Fox can also be interpreted as a representation of the trickster archetype, which is prevalent in many cultures and folklore traditions. Tricksters are often cunning, resourceful, and skilled at navigating complex situations, and Mrs. Fox embodies these characteristics as she outwits her suitors and maintains control over her own destiny.

Loyalty and fidelity: The story explores the themes of loyalty and fidelity within marriage. The old fox’s suspicions about his wife’s faithfulness lead him to test her by pretending to be dead. However, Mrs. Fox’s insistence on finding a suitor with the same characteristics as her husband (e.g., the nine tails and later the red stockings and pointed mouth) suggests she values these traits and may be faithful after all.

The importance of discernment: Mrs. Fox’s ability to discern between potential suitors demonstrates the importance of being selective and not simply accepting the first available option. By holding out for a suitor who possesses the desired traits, Mrs. Fox ensures that she chooses a partner that meets her requirements.

Critique of societal expectations: The story can be interpreted as a critique of societal expectations and the roles that women are expected to play. Mrs. Fox, after the death (real or pretended) of her husband, is expected to find a new partner quickly. The parade of suitors highlights the expectation that women must remarry and maintain a domestic role, rather than pursuing other opportunities or being content on their own.

Resilience and adaptation: Another interpretation focuses on Mrs. Fox’s resilience and her ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Despite being chased out of her home in the first story, she manages to find a suitable new partner in the second story, and ultimately achieves happiness.

Overall, „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ offers various interpretations, each focusing on different aspects of human nature, relationships, and social dynamics. The story’s unique structure, engaging narrative, and rich thematic content contribute to its appeal as a lesser-known but intriguing entry in the Brothers Grimm’s collection.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“

„The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ is a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, who were German academics, philologists, and folklorists. The story is part of their famous collection titled „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“ (Children’s and Household Tales), which was first published in 1812. The collection, now commonly known as Grimm’s Fairy Tales, has been revised and expanded over time, with the final edition being published in 1857. „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ is a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, and as such, it hasn’t received as many adaptations as some of the more famous tales. However, the story has still been featured in various forms of media, which showcase the unique charm and humor of this intriguing narrative:

Literature: The story has been included in numerous collections of fairy tales and folklore, both in its original form and in retellings. Some authors have taken creative liberties in reimagining the story or integrating it into a larger narrative, such as in anthologies of animal-themed tales. „Mr. Fox“ by Helen Oyeyemi: This modern retelling of the fairy tale was published in 2011 and follows the story of St. John Fox, a successful writer who marries a woman named Daphne. However, Daphne soon discovers that her husband is not what he seems and that he has a dark secret. „The Cunning Little Vixen“ by Leos Janacek: This opera, composed in 1924, is based on the Czech novella „Příhody Lišky Bystroušky“ by Rudolf Tesnohlídek, which draws inspiration from „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox.“ The opera tells the story of a young vixen who is captured by a forester and eventually escapes to live a free life in the forest.

Children Book: „Fantastic Mr. Fox“ by Roald Dahl: This children’s book, published in 1970, is a loose adaptation of „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ that follows the story of Mr. Fox, a cunning and mischievous animal who outwits a group of farmers who are trying to capture him. „The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle“ by Beatrix Potter: This children’s book, published in 1905, features a character named Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, a hedgehog who is modeled after Mrs. Fox from „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox.“

Animation: While there haven’t been many animated adaptations focusing solely on „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox,“ elements of the story have appeared in episodes of animated series that explore the world of the Brothers Grimm, such as „Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics“ (1987-1989). The story’s themes and characters lend themselves well to animation, allowing creators to bring the animal kingdom to life in a visually engaging manner.

Theater: The tale has been adapted for the stage in the form of plays and puppet shows, particularly in Germany and other European countries where the story is more widely known. These productions often emphasize the humor, wit, and charm of the characters, allowing audiences to engage with the story in an interactive and entertaining way.

Art and Illustration: „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ has inspired artists and illustrators to create visual representations of the story, either as standalone artworks or as illustrations for written versions of the tale. These illustrations often capture the whimsical, humorous, and cunning aspects of the narrative, highlighting the story’s unique appeal.

„The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ has been adapted and retold in various forms of media, including literature, theater, and film. Although „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ has not been adapted as widely as some other Grimm fairy tales, it still offers a fascinating narrative and captivating characters that have resonated with audiences across various forms of media. Its themes of cunning, deception, and the complexities of relationships continue to intrigue and entertain those who encounter this lesser-known gem in the Brothers Grimm’s collection.

Summary of the plot

„The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm and consists of two interconnected stories. In the first story, an old fox with nine tails suspects that his wife, Mrs. Fox, is unfaithful. To test her loyalty, he pretends to be dead. Mrs. Fox retreats to her room, while her maid, Miss Cat, tends to the house. Upon hearing the news of the old fox’s death, several foxes come to court Mrs. Fox.

As each suitor arrives, Miss Cat describes their appearance, and Mrs. Fox inquires about their number of tails. She rejects all foxes with fewer than nine tails, the same number as her supposedly deceased husband. Finally, a fox with nine tails appears, and Mrs. Fox agrees to marry him. However, as the wedding ceremony begins, the old fox reveals himself and drives away the new suitor and Mrs. Fox.

The second story begins with the actual death of old Mr. Fox. A variety of animals, including a wolf, a dog, a stag, a hare, a bear, and a lion, come to court the widow, Mrs. Fox. Each time, Miss Cat relays the characteristics of the suitors to Mrs. Fox, who then asks whether the suitor has red stockings and a pointed mouth. As each suitor lacks one of these features, Mrs. Fox rejects them all. Eventually, a young fox arrives with both red stockings and a pointed mouth. Satisfied, Mrs. Fox marries the young fox, and they celebrate with a grand wedding feast and dancing, which might still be going on to this day.

Abstract

„The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ is a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, consisting of two parts: „First Story“ and „Second Story.“ The narrative revolves around the cunning and resourceful character of Mrs. Fox as she deals with potential suitors after her husband’s death. In the „First Story,“ Mrs. Fox declares that she will only marry a suitor who perfectly resembles her late husband in both appearance and mannerisms. Several foxes come forward to court her, but none of them match her criteria. Eventually, a fox who closely resembles Mr. Fox appears, and Mrs. Fox agrees to marry him.

The „Second Story“ has a more humorous and lighthearted tone. Word spreads that Mr. Fox is dead, and various animals gather to celebrate the event. Mrs. Fox hosts a feast for the animals, who all compete for her affection. This part of the story emphasizes the wit and charm of Mrs. Fox as she navigates the complex social dynamics of the animal kingdom. „The Wedding of Mrs. Fox“ is an intriguing and engaging tale that touches on themes such as deception, cunning, and the intricacies of relationships. While not as well-known as some other Grimm fairy tales, the story presents captivating characters and a unique narrative structure that showcases the diverse range of stories in the Brothers Grimm’s collection.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
NumberKHM 38
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 65
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH,
Readability Index by Björnsson20.3
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index95.7
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level2.6
Gunning Fog Index5.2
Coleman–Liau Index6.6
SMOG Index6.3
Automated Readability Index1.9
Character Count4.101
Letter Count3.000
Sentence Count73
Word Count789
Average Words per Sentence10,81
Words with more than 6 letters75
Percentage of long words9.5%
Number of Syllables934
Average Syllables per Word1,18
Words with three Syllables21
Percentage Words with three Syllables2.7%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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