In ” Hansel and Gretel” from Grimm’s Fairy-Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the brother and sister lived on the edge of a great forest. Deep in that forest lurked a witch who lived in an enticing little house made of gingerbread. She lured lost and famished children to their demise, but were Hansel and Gretel guided by an unseen hand toward her house for a special purpose?
The Land of Faerie
In the world of Tales, Faerie is the land where fairies may dwell, But…..
“ Faerie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarves, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons: it holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky; and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted.”“On Fairy Stories” by J.R.R. Tolkien
In the realm of Faerie, the stories are not about “fairies”, those diminutive creatures with wings. Fairy-Tales or Fairy Stories take place in the “Perilous Realm” of Faerie. According to Tolkien, the word “fairy” is a word that is similar to “elf” and is a fairly modern word. Tolkien also wrote that, “Most good fairy-stories are about the adventures of men in the Perilous Realm or upon its shadowy marches.”
Where Does Hansel And Gretel Take Place?
When first beginning to read the story of “Hansel and Gretel”, it could be taking place in any forest we recognize from our own life. The troubles of the family in the story are common. The poor woodcutter is struggling to feed his family. Financial struggles are commonplace everywhere! Hansel’s and Gretel’s difficulty with their step-mother is all too familiar for many people who may be reading this story.
It is probable that none of these struggles make us feel we have entered Faerie. It is very like our world, at this point in the story.
Suspicion may begin to grow in the reader’s mind when their step-mother is able to convince their father to abandon them. Even so, this is not unheard of, we hear news stories of terrible things happening everyday. The parents lead Hansel and Gretel deep into the forest to be eaten by wild animals, or die of starvation.
As our world is a fallen land, and we hear stories of terrible things happening, none of this may catch our attention quite yet.
However, what happens next will surely convince readers that this story takes place in Faerie, The Perilous Realm!
Where The Witch Dwells
Hansel and Gretel were walking for three days, wandering deeper and deeper into the forest. And yet, they seemed un-surprised upon finding a house made of gingerbread, cakes, and sugar!
The starving children immediately set to eating the house they found, or were led to, deep in the forest.
While the entire land was experiencing a “dearth”, or famine they happened upon a house they could eat!
The witch had mastered her method of luring lost, hungry children. She offered a temptation they could not resist.
Why was this her practice? She ate the children who could not resist her treats. (Faerie is unapologetically candid.)
However, this time was different, the witch’s end was nearing. Hansel and Gretel were led by an unseen hand for reasons that were to be revealed.
Unseen Help For Hansel And Gretel
Indeed, there was more to Hansel and Gretel arriving at the witch’s house than just chance. They were unaware of their involvement in an important plan to stop evil.
Early in the story, Hansel states, “Be comforted, dear little sister, and sleep in peace, God will not forsake us.”
After overhearing their stepmother’s plans a second time, Hansel says, “Do not cry, Gretel, go to sleep quietly, the good God will take care of us.”
The beautiful white bird sang a sweet song and attracted the attention of the brother and sister. They followed the bird, and it led them, until it landed on the roof of the witch’s house.
In the Christian faith, white doves represent the Holy Spirit. Some cultures see white birds to symbolize good fortune, hope, purity, and innocence. This Fairy-Tale uses the bird as a symbol of light, goodness, and help. It is trustworthy.
Hansel and Gretel had come upon what the witch intended to be a deadly trap. However, the foreshadowing is there to suggest the true end for the brother and sister.
So, we will leave them there, for now, to talk about the Hansel and Gretel dolls.
I’ve made my Hansel and Gretel dolls by hand. They are sewn with my favorite fabrics: linen, cotton, and wool. I return to these fibers again and again for many sewing projects.
My favorite part of doll-making is choosing the clothes they will wear, and hand-sewing them. I love the way hand-sewing slows me down, and all of this makes me feel like a little girl again, playing with my dolls!
In the Fairy-Tale, Hansel is older, therefore he is a bigger doll.
The dolls’ bodies are stuffed with wool, and their heads are shaped in a “Waldorf” doll style.
To make the hair for each doll, I knitted a little “wig” from fine- gauge alpaca yarn on size 0 knitting needles. And then for Gretel, I added braided buns on each side of her head. I added some sprigs to Hansel’s head, as bangs.
All of the other fabrics used for the dolls were from my fabric scraps basket. That is where the small bits of my favorite fabrics end up. They are always handy for little projects, like these dolls. If you like sewing projects that use up small scraps of fabric, check out my post, How To Hand Sew A Boro Patch. You may also enjoy my post, How To Make A Beehive Clothespin Bag.
More Of Hansel And Gretel Is On The Way
If you already enjoy Fairy-Tales, or your interest is piqued, there are more additions to my “Hansel and Gretel art adaptation on the way!
When will the witch make her appearance?
How could Hansel and Gretel ever escape?!
What Do You Think?
Is this a Fairy-Tale or a Cautionary Tale? I recommend you read this post of mine if you aren’t certain.
What is your favorite part of “Hansel and Gretel”? What other Fairy-Tales would you like to see made into art adaptations? Please let me know in the comments below.