“Long ago, when wishes often came true…”
The first of 211 stories in Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales is The Frog Prince. Credited for the expression “you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your Prince Charming,” the ending of this version was not what I remembered.
Its original German title, Der Froschkönig oder der eiserne Heinrich, translates to “The Frog King, or Iron Henry.” The latter is related to the Prince’s faithful servant, whose heart was bound by iron bars when the Prince was put under the witch’s spell.
The implications of any fairy tale can vary far and wide. Some interpretations of The Frog Prince include that of the golden ball symbolizing the princess’ childhood innocence. When she drops it into the well, the frog recovers the ball with the promise that the princess will love him and be his companion. From that moment, her life is changed. A psychoanalytic interpretation is also common, and not just in this fairy tale. Disenchantment is the act of rationalizing mythical aspects of society, culture or one’s personal beliefs. In psychoanalysis, this requires identifying sources of fear or repression before working towards a solution. When the princess throws the frog against the wall of her room, her disgust of the amphibian is actualized, and the solution is the Prince returning to his human form.
Speaking of throwing the frog against the wall, this was not the ending I remember reading. The first English translation of The Frog Prince was done by translator Edgar Taylor in the early 19th century, less than ten years after the Grimm brothers wrote their version. Taylor omitted the violent action of the princess in his translation to better cater to his audience, which he believed would react better to the frog simply spending the night on a pillow instead of being viciously thrown against a wall. I find the original ending more shocking, more exciting, and more believable. A child princess throwing a frog because it disgusts her is much better for the story than her letting it sleep on her pillow. The latter is just simply not believable.
Which ending are you more familiar with? Do you enjoy reading a different version of The Frog Prince – have you read the original in German?! Maybe I’ll start learning German solely to read original fairy tales…
- Edgar Taylor’s “The Frog Prince”
- “The Frog Prince” by Robert Coover
- Lutz Röhrich – author of Folktales and Reality and infamous German folklorist