“There was once a woman who lived with her daughter in a beautiful cabbage-garden; and there came a rabbit and ate up all the cabbages.”
To get rid of the rabbit, the woman tells her daughter to shoo it away, and she does.
“‘Shoo! shoo!’ said the maiden; ‘don’t eat up all our cabbages, little rabbit!’ ‘Come, maiden,’ said the rabbit, ‘sit on my tail and go with me to my rabbit-hutch.’ But the maiden would not.”
This repeats twice more, and on the third round “the girl seated herself on the rabbit’s tail and the rabbit took her to his hutch.” At the hutch, the rabbit tells the girl that he is going to gather wedding guests – it’s not explicitly stated, but they are to be married. After inviting a handful of animals, he tells the girl – who “was sad, because she was so lonely” – “‘Get up! get up!’…’the wedding folk are all merry.'” But the girl just cries and does not respond. So the rabbit repeats his message, but to no avail, so “the rabbit went away.”
The girl channels her craftiness and cleverness to then make “a figure of straw, and dressed it in her own clothes,” and then returned home to her mother. The rabbit returned, and apparently unable to tell the figure is made out of straw, repeats his “Get up! get up!” message. When there is no response the rabbit hit the figure on the head, making it fall apart. “And the rabbit though that he had killed his bride, and he went away and was very sad.”
The ending of this fairy tale reminds me of Little Bunny Foo Foo, bopping the field mice on their heads. I don’t believe there is any connection between the two, but this story makes me think of the other all the same.
I don’t find The Rabbit’s Bride very thrilling, to be honest. It’s a classic “being fantastical for the sake of being fantastical” tale with a crude side of child bride. What is interesting to me is the narrator’s appearance during the part when the rabbit is inviting wedding guests. “Would you like to know who [the wedding guests] were? Well, I can only tell you what was told to me.” It’s not common – so far in my reading of Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales – for the narrator to make their presence known. For example, in Hansel and Gretel, it’s obvious that there is a narrator interjecting words of wisdom, but that narrator doesn’t take on the identity of a mysterious character like the one in this tale does. Why has this narrator chosen to tell this story? Who is the narrator in relation to the story? Is it the Grimm brothers? Is it a neighbor of the mother and daughter? A friend of the rabbit?
I really could speculate for days about this, which is part of the fun with fairy tales, right? I’ve realized that even when I find a tale to be mediocre, the pleasure and satisfaction of using my imagination to fuel curiosity and discovery (or non-discovery) makes reading and analyzing the story quite worth it.
- Aarne-Thompson classification system – 2021: The Cock and the Hen (FORMULA TALES, Cumulative Tales, Chains Involving Death)