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The Wolf and the Fox
Grimm Märchen

The Wolf and the Fox - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 6 min

The wolf had the fox with him, and whatsoever the wolf wished, that the fox was compelled to do, for he was the weaker, and he would gladly have been rid of his master. It chanced that once as they were going through the forest, the wolf said, „Red-fox, get me something to eat, or else I will eat thee thyself.“ Then the fox answered, „I know a farm-yard where there are two young lambs. If thou art inclined, we will fetch one of them.“ That suited the wolf, and they went thither, and the fox stole the little lamb, took it to the wolf, and went away. The wolf devoured it, but was not satisfied with one. He wanted the other as well, and went to get it. As, however, he did it so awkwardly, the mother of the little lamb heard him, and began to cry out terribly, and to bleat so that the farmer came running there. They found the wolf, and beat him so mercilessly, that he went to the fox limping and howling. „Thou hast misled me finely,“ said he; „I wanted to fetch the other lamb, and the country folks surprised me, and have beaten me to a jelly.“ The fox replied, „Why art thou such a glutton?“

The wolf and the fox Fairy Tale

Next day they again went into the country, and the greedy wolf once more said, „Red-fox, get me something to eat, or I will eat thee thyself.“ Then answered the fox, „I know a farm-house where the wife is baking pancakes to-night. We will get some of them for ourselves.“ They went there, and the fox slipped round the house, and peeped and sniffed about until he discovered where the dish was, and then drew down six pancakes and carried them to the wolf. „There is something for thee to eat,“ said he to him, and then went his way. The wolf swallowed down the pancakes in an instant, and said, „They make one want more,“ and went thither and tore the whole dish down so that it broke in pieces. This made such a great noise that the woman came out, and when she saw the wolf she called the people, who hurried there, and beat him as long as their sticks would hold together, till with two lame legs, and howling loudly, he got back to the fox in the forest. „How abominably thou hast misled me!“ cried he, „the peasants caught me, and tanned my skin for me.“ But the fox replied, „Why art thou such a glutton?“

On the third day, when they were out together, and the wolf could only limp along painfully, he again said, „Red-fox, get me something to eat, or I will eat thee thyself.“ The fox answered, „I know a man who has been killing, and the salted meat is lying in a barrel in the cellar. We will get that.“ Said the wolf, „I will go when thou dost, that thou mayest help me if I am not able to get away.“ – „I am willing,“ said the fox, and showed him the by-paths and ways by which at length they reached the cellar. There was meat in abundance, and the wolf attacked it instantly and thought, „There is plenty of time before I need leave off!“ The fox liked it also, but looked about everywhere, and often ran to the hole by which they had come in, and tried if his body was still thin enough to slip through it. The wolf said, „Dear fox, tell me why thou art running here and there so much, and jumping in and out?“

„I must see that no one is coming,“ replied the crafty fellow. „Don’t eat too much!“ Then said the wolf, „I shall not leave until the barrel is empty.“ In the meantime the farmer, who had heard the noise of the fox’s jumping, came into the cellar. When the fox saw him he was out of the hole at one bound. The wolf wanted to follow him, but he had made himself so fat with eating that he could no longer get through, but stuck fast. Then came the farmer with a cudgel and struck him dead, but the fox bounded into the forest, glad to be rid of the old glutton.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The wolf and the fox“

„The Wolf and the Fox“ is a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their famous compilation „Children’s and Household Tales“ (Kinder- und Hausmärchen). Like many other tales in their collection, this story has its roots in European folklore, reflecting the values and social dynamics of the time when it was collected.

In this tale, a wolf and a fox are living together in the same den, but the wolf constantly mistreats the fox. The fox, cunning and intelligent, finally decides to turn the tables on the wolf and teach him a lesson. He tricks the wolf into going to a farmer’s house to steal food, but the wolf ends up getting caught in a trap instead. The fox then manages to escape and free himself from the wolf’s tyranny.

This story, which features animal characters with human-like traits, has similarities to other folktales and fables from various storytelling traditions. Such tales often convey moral lessons, using animals as a means of exploring human behavior and values.

The story of „The Wolf and the Fox“ addresses themes of power dynamics, oppression, and cunning. The tale serves as a reminder that intelligence and wit can sometimes outsmart brute strength or authority, offering hope to those who find themselves in difficult or oppressive situations.

As with many other tales collected by the Brothers Grimm, „The Wolf and the Fox“ has likely evolved and changed over time as it was passed down through generations. The Brothers Grimm may have adapted the story from different regional sources, molding it into the version that appears in their collection of German folktales.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The wolf and the fox“

„The Wolf and the Fox,“ a fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, offers several moral lessons and interpretations. Here are some possible interpretations of the story:

Intelligence over brute strength: The tale demonstrates that intelligence and cunning can sometimes triumph over brute strength or authority. Despite being weaker and mistreated by the wolf, the fox uses his wit to outsmart the wolf and escape the oppressive situation, teaching readers that cleverness can be a powerful tool in overcoming obstacles.

Power dynamics and oppression: The story explores themes of power dynamics and oppression, with the wolf representing an authoritative figure who abuses his power, while the fox represents a victim who ultimately finds a way to break free. The tale serves as a reminder that those who misuse their power may eventually face the consequences of their actions.

Resourcefulness and adaptability: The fox’s ability to devise a plan and adapt to his situation showcases the importance of resourcefulness and adaptability. The story encourages readers to think critically and be resourceful when faced with challenges or difficult circumstances.

Standing up to tyranny: The fox’s decision to confront and outsmart the wolf can be seen as an act of defiance against tyranny. The tale encourages readers to stand up against oppressive forces and fight for their freedom, even when the odds seem stacked against them.

Consequences of mistreatment: The wolf’s downfall is a direct result of his mistreatment of the fox. The story serves as a cautionary tale about the potential consequences of abusing power and mistreating others, emphasizing the importance of treating others with respect and fairness.

These interpretations provide various ways to understand the moral lessons and insights conveyed by „The Wolf and the Fox.“ The story serves as a reminder of the power of intelligence and resourcefulness, the importance of standing up against oppression, and the potential consequences of mistreatment and abuse of power.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The wolf and the fox“

„The Wolf and the Fox“ is not as well-known or frequently adapted as some other Grimm fairy tales, but it has been retold and adapted in various forms to convey its moral lessons. Here are a few examples:

Children’s literature: The story has been adapted and included in anthologies of Grimm’s fairy tales or collections of animal stories for children. These adaptations often feature simplified language and engaging illustrations to appeal to a younger audience. One example is the book „Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales“ by the Brothers Grimm and Arthur Rackham, which includes an illustrated version of „The Wolf and the Fox.“

Storytelling and oral performances: As a story with moral lessons and engaging animal characters, „The Wolf and the Fox“ lends itself well to oral storytelling. Professional storytellers, educators, and parents may include the tale in their performances or storytime sessions at schools, libraries, and festivals.

Educational materials: Given its moral lessons about power dynamics, oppression, and resourcefulness, „The Wolf and the Fox“ can be used in educational materials, such as lesson plans and classroom activities. Teachers may use the story to teach moral values and spark discussions about the consequences of abuse of power and mistreatment.

Puppet shows and theater: While there may not be many standalone theatrical adaptations of „The Wolf and the Fox,“ the story can be included in puppet shows or larger theatrical productions that feature multiple fables and fairy tales. The tale’s engaging animal characters and moral lessons make it a suitable choice for performances aimed at children and families.

Although there may not be as many adaptations of „The Wolf and the Fox“ as some other Grimm fairy tales, its themes of power dynamics, oppression, and resourcefulness have made it an appealing story for various forms of retelling. As a result, the tale continues to be adapted and shared with contemporary audiences, helping to keep the story alive and relevant.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The wolf and the fox“

„The Wolf and the Fox“ has been adapted and retold in various forms over the years, including in literature, film, and television. Here are a few notable adaptations:

„The Wolf and the Fox“ retold by Anne Sexton: American poet Anne Sexton retold the story in her book „Transformations“ (1971), a collection of fairy tale adaptations. Sexton’s version features a more feminist perspective, with the fox being portrayed as a female character who uses her intelligence and cunning to survive in a male-dominated world.

„The Pig Brother“ by the Brothers Grimm: A similar tale to „The Wolf and the Fox“ is „The Pig Brother,“ also collected by the Brothers Grimm. In this story, the pig is the main character and is aided by a variety of animals, including a wolf and a fox, in his quest to escape being eaten. The story teaches similar lessons about wit, resourcefulness, and trust.

„The Fox and the Wolf“ by Aesop: The Greek storyteller Aesop also has a fable called „The Fox and the Wolf,“ which shares similarities with „The Wolf and the Fox.“ In this story, the fox and the wolf are both hungry and decide to steal a sheep. The fox tricks the wolf into stealing the sheep, but then runs away, leaving the wolf to be caught and punished.

„The Adventures of Pinocchio“ by Carlo Collodi: In this classic Italian novel, Pinocchio encounters a fox and a cat who trick him into giving them his gold coins. The story shares similarities with „The Wolf and the Fox“ in that it warns against trusting strangers and highlights the importance of being careful and discerning.

„The Fox and the Hound“ by Disney: This animated film from 1981 is loosely based on the novel by Daniel P. Mannix and tells the story of a fox and a hunting dog who become friends despite their natural instincts to be enemies. While the story is not a direct adaptation of „The Wolf and the Fox,“ it shares themes of unlikely friendships and the power of overcoming stereotypes.

Summary of the plot

„The Wolf and the Fox“ is a fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm that tells the story of a cunning fox and a domineering wolf who live together in the same den. The wolf constantly mistreats the fox, but the fox is patient and bides his time.

One day, the fox decides to turn the tables on the wolf and teach him a lesson. He tricks the wolf into going to a farmer’s house to steal food, knowing that the farmer has set a trap there. As the wolf goes to the house and attempts to steal the food, he gets caught in the trap, just as the fox had planned.

The fox, having used his intelligence and cunning to outsmart the wolf, manages to escape the den and gain his freedom. The story concludes with the wolf suffering the consequences of his mistreatment of the fox, while the fox emerges victorious, having used his wit to overcome the oppressive situation.

The tale conveys moral lessons about the power of intelligence and cunning over brute strength, the importance of standing up against oppression, and the consequences of mistreatment and abuse of power. Through its engaging animal characters and compelling narrative, „The Wolf and the Fox“ imparts valuable wisdom to readers of all ages.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „The wolf and the fox“

„The Wolf and the Fox“ is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, in their famous compilation, „Grimm’s Fairy Tales“ (originally published as „Children’s and Household Tales“ in 1812). The Brothers Grimm were German academics, linguists, and cultural researchers who collected and published over 200 folktales in their lifetime. Their work has had a significant impact on the development of folklore studies and Western storytelling.

The story of „The Wolf and the Fox“ is part of the Aarne-Thompson-Uther (ATU) classification system, which is a catalog of folktale types used for organizing and analyzing folklore from around the world. This specific story falls under ATU type 41, „Overeating in the Pantry.“

The tale is an example of the „trickster“ archetype, which is common in folklore across many cultures. The trickster character, in this case, the fox, is known for their cunning, intelligence, and ability to outwit others. In „The Wolf and the Fox,“ the clever fox uses his wits to survive and eventually free himself from the wolf’s control.

The story also illustrates the common folktale theme of the weak outsmarting the strong, as well as the dangers of greed and gluttony. It serves as a moral lesson for readers, reminding them of the importance of adaptability, being mindful of the consequences of one’s actions, and the value of wisdom over brute force.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The wolf and the fox“

„The Wolf and the Fox“ offers several interpretations and lessons:

Greed and Gluttony: The wolf’s insatiable appetite leads to his downfall. This cautionary tale warns readers about the dangers of being greedy and overindulging, as it can result in negative consequences.

Cunning vs. Brute Force: The story highlights the contrast between the fox’s cunning and the wolf’s brute force. The fox uses his intelligence to survive and escape danger, whereas the wolf relies on strength, which ultimately fails him. This can be seen as a lesson that wit and strategy can often outsmart raw power.

Loyalty and Manipulation: The fox serves the wolf out of fear and necessity, rather than genuine loyalty. The story demonstrates how people may be forced to cooperate with someone more powerful even when they would prefer not to. The fox, however, manages to use his intelligence to eventually free himself from the wolf’s control.

Consequences of Actions: The wolf repeatedly ignores the fox’s advice and suffers the consequences of his actions. This can be interpreted as a lesson to listen to the wisdom of others and be mindful of the potential outcomes of one’s actions.

The Importance of Adaptability: The fox’s ability to adapt to different situations and think on his feet saves him from harm. This teaches the value of being flexible and resourceful in the face of adversity.

In summary, „The Wolf and the Fox“ provides a moral lesson on the dangers of greed and the importance of cunning, adaptability, and considering the consequences of one’s actions.

Summary of the plot

In „The Wolf and the Fox“ by the Brothers Grimm, the weaker fox is compelled to do as the wolf commands. One day, the hungry wolf demands food, so the fox leads him to a farmyard where they steal a lamb. The wolf devours it but wants more, attempting to steal the second lamb himself. However, he is caught by the farmer and beaten severely.

The next day, the wolf again demands food, so the fox takes him to a house where a woman is baking pancakes. The fox steals six pancakes, but the unsatisfied wolf wants more and ends up making a mess, alerting the woman. The townspeople find the wolf and beat him again.

On the third day, the wolf demands food once more, and the fox takes him to a cellar filled with salted meat. As the wolf indulges himself, the fox remains vigilant, making sure he can still fit through their escape hole. When the farmer discovers them, the fox escapes, but the wolf, now too fat to fit through the hole, is caught and killed by the farmer. The fox, now free of the greedy wolf, bounds happily into the forest.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
NumberKHM 73
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 41
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES, FR, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RO, RU, TR, VI, ZH
Readability Index by Björnsson29.5
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index84.5
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level6.5
Gunning Fog Index9.2
Coleman–Liau Index7
SMOG Index7.6
Automated Readability Index6.9
Character Count3.701
Letter Count2.807
Sentence Count36
Word Count724
Average Words per Sentence20,11
Words with more than 6 letters68
Percentage of long words9.4%
Number of Syllables872
Average Syllables per Word1,20
Words with three Syllables21
Percentage Words with three Syllables2.9%
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