Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales: The Spider and the Flea
“A Spider and a Flea dwelt together in one house, and brewed their beer in an egg-shell.”
As odd and fun that first sentence is, this tale continues on in a mildly terrifying manner, and ends quite terribly for the characters we meet along the way.
The spider unfortunately and immediately falls into the “beer-tub” and scalds herself. From there begins this cumulative tale, as some type of calamity befalls the flea (understandably weeping about the Spider), the door, the broom, a little cart, a heap of ashes, a tree, a maiden, then finally a stream. But just before the stream, all of the cumulative lines:
The little Spider’s scalded herself,
And the Flea weeps;
The little Door creaks with the pain,
And the Broom sweeps;
The little Cart runs on so fast,
And the Ashes burn;
The little Tree shakes down its leaves—
Now it is my turn!
The Stream continues this tale briefly with the line: “‘now must I begin to flow.'” The water flows and flows, thus growing larger and larger, until it essentially washes away all of the characters from this tale. I have mentioned before that cumulative tales aren’t exactly my cup of tea – I can’t quite get over the repetitiveness and predictability enough to enjoy the pattern. Especially here, where the sequence of events and tone are so somber.
- Types of Folk Literature
- Aarne-Thompson classification system – 2022: An Animal Mourns the Death of a Spouse