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The Wolf and the Man
Grimm Märchen

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

Reading time for children: 4 min

Once on a time the fox was talking to the wolf of the strength of man; how no animal could withstand him, and how all were obliged to employ cunning in order to preserve themselves from him. Then the wolf answered, „If I had but the chance of seeing a man for once, I would set on him notwithstanding.“ – „I can help thee to do that,“ said the fox. „Come to me early to-morrow morning, and I will show thee one.“ The wolf presented himself betimes, and the fox took him out on the road by which the huntsmen went daily. First came an old discharged soldier. „Is that a man?“ inquired the wolf. „No,“ answered the fox, „that was one.“ Afterwards came a little boy who was going to school. „Is that a man?“ – „No, that is going to be one.“ At length came a hunter with his double-barrelled gun at his back, and hanger by his side. Said the fox to the wolf, „Look, there comes a man, thou must attack him, but I will take myself off to my hole.“ The wolf then rushed on the man. When the huntsman saw him he said, „It is a pity that I have not loaded with a bullet,“ aimed, and fired his small shot in his face. The wolf pulled a very wry face, but did not let himself be frightened, and attacked him again, on which the huntsman gave him the second barrel. The wolf swallowed his pain, and rushed on the huntsman, but he drew out his bright hanger, and gave him a few cuts with it right and left, so that, bleeding everywhere, he ran howling back to the fox. „Well, brother wolf,“ said the fox, „how hast thou got on with man?“ – „Ah!“ replied the wolf, „I never imagined the strength of man to be what it is! First, he took a stick from his shoulder, and blew into it, and then something flew into my face which tickled me terribly. Then he breathed once more into the stick, and it flew into my nose like lightning and hail. When I was quite close, he drew a white rib out of his side, and he beat me so with it that I was all but left lying dead.“ – „See what a braggart thou art!“ said the fox. „Thou throwest thy hatchet so far that thou canst not fetch it back again!“

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Backgrounds to fairy tale „The wolf and the man“

„The Wolf and the Man“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their famous compilation „Children’s and Household Tales“ (Kinder- und Hausmärchen). This story, like many others in their collection, has its roots in European folklore and reflects the values and social dynamics of the time when it was collected.

In „The Wolf and the Man,“ the narrative focuses on a chance encounter between a wolf and a man in the forest. The wolf, upon seeing the man, is impressed by his hunting skills and decides to observe him. As the man successfully hunts various animals, the wolf becomes envious and wishes to learn how to hunt like him. However, as the story unfolds, the wolf learns that the man’s hunting prowess is not something he can easily acquire and that there is more to being a human hunter than he initially thought.

This tale touches on themes of curiosity, envy, and the differences between human and animal natures. It explores the relationship between humans and the natural world, as well as the idea that each creature has unique skills and abilities that cannot always be replicated by others.

As with many other tales collected by the Brothers Grimm, „The Wolf and the Man“ 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 man“

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

Acceptance of one’s own nature: The tale teaches the importance of accepting one’s own abilities and limitations, as the wolf realizes that he cannot become a skilled hunter like the man. It emphasizes the idea that every creature has its own unique talents, and it is important to embrace them rather than trying to imitate others.

Envy and its consequences: The wolf’s envy of the man’s hunting skills drives him to want to learn to hunt like a human. However, this desire ultimately leads the wolf to the realization that he cannot replicate the man’s abilities. The story serves as a reminder that envy can lead to disappointment and that it is important to focus on one’s own strengths rather than coveting the abilities of others.

Curiosity and exploration: The wolf’s curiosity about the man’s hunting skills demonstrates the natural instinct to explore and learn from others. However, the story also highlights the importance of knowing when to accept one’s own limitations and move on.

The relationship between humans and animals: The tale explores the differences between human and animal natures, emphasizing that each species has its own unique abilities and limitations. The story invites readers to reflect on the relationship between humans and animals and to appreciate the distinct qualities that each species possesses.

The value of humility: The wolf’s initial envy and desire to learn from the man can be seen as a sign of humility. By recognizing the man’s superior hunting skills, the wolf acknowledges that he has something to learn from another creature. This interpretation emphasizes the importance of being open to learning from others and recognizing our own limitations.

These interpretations provide various ways to understand the moral lessons and insights conveyed by „The Wolf and the Man.“ The story serves as a reminder of the importance of accepting one’s own nature, the consequences of envy, the value of curiosity and exploration, and the unique qualities of humans and animals.

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

„The Wolf and the Man“ 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 Man.“

Storytelling and oral performances: As a story with moral lessons and engaging animal characters, „The Wolf and the Man“ 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 acceptance of one’s own nature, envy, and the relationship between humans and animals, „The Wolf and the Man“ 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 envy and the importance of understanding one’s own strengths and limitations.

Puppet shows and theater: While there may not be many standalone theatrical adaptations of „The Wolf and the Man,“ 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 Man“ as some other Grimm fairy tales, its themes of self-acceptance, envy, and the relationship between humans and animals 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 man“

The fairy tale „The Wolf and the Man“ has inspired many adaptations and retellings over the years. Here are a few examples:

„The Hunter and the Wolf“: This is a variation of the story in which the man is a hunter and the wolf is a talking animal who tries to trick the hunter. In the end, the hunter outwits the wolf and kills him.

„The Shepherd and the Wolf“: This adaptation features a shepherd who is tricked by a talking wolf. The shepherd initially trusts the wolf and allows him to enter his flock, but he later realizes his mistake and kills the wolf.

„The Wolf and the Shepherd“: In this version, the wolf and the shepherd become friends and travel together. However, the shepherd eventually betrays the wolf and kills him.

„The Wolf and the Seven Kids“: This is a well-known fairy tale in which a wolf disguises himself as the mother of seven young goats and tries to eat them. The story has similarities to „The Wolf and the Man,“ as both tales involve deception and betrayal.

„The Fox and the Cat“: This is a fable by Aesop that shares some similarities with „The Wolf and the Man.“ In the fable, a fox and a cat discuss their various talents and come to the conclusion that it is better to have one skill that you are good at than to have many skills but be mediocre at all of them.

These are just a few examples of the many adaptations of „The Wolf and the Man“ that exist. The story’s themes of trust, betrayal, and violence have resonated with readers and storytellers throughout history, and it continues to inspire new retellings to this day.

Summary of the plotBackgrounds to fairy tale „The wolf and the man“

„The Wolf and the Man“ is a lesser-known fairy tale collected and published by the Brothers Grimm, two German siblings, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. They were linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who gathered and compiled numerous traditional European folk tales in the early 19th century. Their most famous collection, „Children’s and Household Tales“ (in German: „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“), was published in several editions between 1812 and 1857.

The Brothers Grimm are known for their efforts in preserving traditional stories, which were passed down orally through generations. Their collection includes popular tales such as „Cinderella,“ „Hansel and Gretel,“ „Snow White,“ „Rapunzel,“ and many others that have become an integral part of Western popular culture.

„The Wolf and the Man“ is not as well-known as the more famous Grimm fairy tales, but it still features some of the typical elements found in their stories, such as anthropomorphic animals, moral lessons, and a narrative structure built around encounters and trials. The tale emphasizes the importance of wisdom, humility, and understanding the true nature of one’s adversaries, providing valuable lessons for readers of all ages.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The wolf and the man“

„The Wolf and the Man“ offers various interpretations that can be drawn from its narrative. Here are a few key themes that can be explored:

Underestimation of opponents: The wolf’s arrogance and ignorance lead him to underestimate the power and resourcefulness of humans. This serves as a reminder to not underestimate others and to approach situations with humility and respect.

The importance of wisdom and experience: The fox, being more experienced and wise, tries to warn the wolf about the strength of humans. The wolf’s failure to heed the fox’s advice demonstrates the significance of listening to those with more experience and knowledge.

The consequences of pride and overconfidence: The wolf’s pride and overconfidence in his own abilities lead to his painful defeat. This can be seen as a cautionary tale about the dangers of being too self-assured without understanding the full context or capabilities of one’s adversaries.

The use of cunning and intelligence: The fox is a symbol of cunning and intelligence in the story, as it understands the risks associated with confronting a human and avoids the confrontation itself. This highlights the importance of using intelligence and cunning to navigate through difficult situations.

The transformative power of experience: The story illustrates how personal experiences can change one’s perspective. The wolf, having confronted and suffered at the hands of the man, gains a newfound understanding of human strength and, presumably, learns to be more cautious in the future.

Summary of the plot

„The Wolf and the Man“ is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm that tells the story of a curious wolf who wants to see and challenge a man, despite the fox’s warning about human strength. The fox agrees to help the wolf and leads him to a road where huntsmen pass daily.

Initially, the wolf sees an old discharged soldier and a young boy, neither of whom meet his expectation of a man. Finally, they come across a hunter armed with a double-barrelled gun and a hanger. The fox takes this opportunity to leave the wolf to confront the man alone.

The wolf, undeterred by the hunter’s weapons, charges at the man. In response, the hunter shoots small shots at the wolf, causing discomfort but not stopping the animal. The wolf continues to attack, and the hunter uses the second barrel of his gun. Despite the pain, the wolf persists in his assault, prompting the hunter to draw his hanger and slash at the wolf, leaving him bleeding and in pain.

Defeated and wounded, the wolf retreats to the fox, lamenting the unexpected power of man. He describes the shots from the gun as tickling and painful and the hanger as a white rib that left him nearly dead. The fox mocks the wolf for underestimating the strength of man and highlights the consequences of his bravado.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
NumberKHM 72
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 157
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES, FR, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RU, TR, VI, ZH
Readability Index by Björnsson25.7
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index89.5
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level4.5
Gunning Fog Index7.3
Coleman–Liau Index6.7
SMOG Index7.2
Automated Readability Index4.1
Character Count2.076
Letter Count1.561
Sentence Count27
Word Count408
Average Words per Sentence15,11
Words with more than 6 letters43
Percentage of long words10.5%
Number of Syllables492
Average Syllables per Word1,21
Words with three Syllables13
Percentage Words with three Syllables3.2%
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