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Grimm’s Fairy Tale: Interpretation of the “Young Giant.”
The Young Giant is one of the many fairy tales compiled by the brothers Grimm, one whose meaning is elusive but is none the less important to understanding the past. For within this story of a thumbling which grows to become a giant and then demands the right to hit people in payment for work it is possible to see the humor and lives of the past.
The “Young Giant” is one of the many strange and significant fairy tales that never became popular. It begins as many fairy tales do, with a statement that it most certainly had not happening recently. The farmer of the tale has a child who is a thumbling. It is interesting to note how many people of the past would commonly have thumblings within stories, such characters could indicate and awareness of the events occurring to them and what these meant.
From about 900 AD to 1200 AD people in Europe where about as tall as they are today, then over time their average height began to drop. It is interesting to note how important nutrition is to height, and how the presence of a thumbling does seem to indicate poverty in folktales. At the same time of course making the main character a thumbling is in part to make their feats all the more significant, and in the case of this story that feat is the growing of the thumbling into a giant. For as the thumbling is in the field with his father giant comes and tales him away. This female giant then acts as a mother to the thumbling nursing him for years and making him grow and grow. After the now young giant has grown for a while his new mother takes him into the woods and has him rip up a sapling, however this does not satisfy the giantess who decides that the young giant needs to be nursed some more to get stronger. Three times the giant tears up trees in the forest before his new mother is satisfied, when he rips up the largest oak tree in the forest and snaps in half.
After pleasing his adoptive mother with his strength he goes back to his parents, who at first are afraid of him, denying that he is their son. He however does convince them of their relationship, after which he plows everything for them without the aid of horses, and then carries the horse’s home. The son asks his father for a staff, and his father then tries his best to provide one, however the young giant breaks each staff given to him by his father. Realizing that his father can no longer provide for him the young giant leaves home.
It is interesting to note that when he was a thumbling all he wanted to do was help his father, when he grew he did great work for a brief period but left his parents as they could no longer help him. Certainly in order for the Age of Exploration and the Industrial Era’s to occur children did have to start leaving their parents in mass rather then staying at home to help them. As one might anticipate from such an event the young giant goes to find a smith, offering to work for the smith in return for the right to hit him. The smith being greedy agrees to these terms. The giant however cannot do much good at the forge for he is too strong, so after providing a hit he takes a rod of metal as his staff and leaves.
then offers to work for a bailiff in return for the right to hit the
after a year. The