Hansel and Gretel
Writer: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Once in a time, near the large forest, a poor woodcutter lived with his wife and two children. The son’s name was called Hansel and the daughter was Gretel. The children were always neglected by their step-mother. She didn’t love them and wanted to get rid of them and felt burden because of their presence at the house. There was the scarcity of food and famine in the region, so their father was unable to give food to the children. The step-mother was cruel and unkind to the children. That is why the stepmother made a plan to leave the children in the forest and for that reason, she compelled her husband to leave the children in the forest. The children also understood the plan of their parents but didn’t do anything and accepted the bitter reality. They were suffering from hunger. The boy Hansel was very clever and he had gone out at night, filled his pocket with pebbles so as to scatter in the way of their trip to the forests.
One day in the morning, the poor family had begun their trip to the forest with the intention to leave the innocent children. Hansel threw the pebbles on the road one by one. When they reached the forest, their father and mother left them were sleeping nearby the fireside. As the children woke up at night, found them alone and their parents had not there, so they waited until the moon rose and followed the road where the pebbles shone like silver pieces. They were able to come into their house because of the pebbles. Their step-mother was restless to see them but the father was happy. The parents made another plan to leave them into the more dense forest and the children had overheard the conversation of their parents but they couldn’t do anything as they were trapped in the room and given some breadcrumbs by the stepmother for the next day and went to a thick forest. But this time Hansel threw the pieces of bread on the road. When the father and mother came back home like before leaving the children in the forest in their deep sleep, the children woke up at night, followed the road but the pieces of bread were not there They missed the road, were tired and fell asleep under a tree. They followed a singing bird when they woke up. They reached a house. The roof of the house was made up of bread and the windows of sugar. The hungry children began to eat the house. An old woman came out of the house. She took them inside the house. They felt that it was heaven. The woman was a wicked witch. She wanted to kill and eat them. So she imprisoned Hansel in the stable, gave good food to fatten him. But once, Gretel pushed the woman into the oven and bolted the door of the oven and the woman burnt to death. Then Gretel being very happy freed her brother.
The children were extremely excited when they found a lot of pearls and jewels in that house. They put it into their pockets and headed towards the home. But in their way, there was a huge body of the water and began singing a song. Then the duck came and rescued them to the side of the river. When they walked a bit more, they knew that the river was familiar and while walking far they had seen their father’s home. They ran and found their father in the home but their stepmother has died. They gave the precious stone, jewels and pearls to their father and lived happily afterwards.
Important Questions and Answers :
1. Psychological analysis of Hansel and Gretel.
Ans: The writer in his adapted story Hansel and Gretel presents the psychological analysis of the story. In this story, he expresses a unique truth of life that poverty and deprivation make human beings selfish and less sensitive to others sufferings. The writer tells us that when the children grow up, they must learn to live separately from their parents. Hansel and Gretel have left in the forest in order to give them a chance to learn to live independently. However, they have come back as they have not been able enough to live apart from their parents. The children have again been left in the forest for the second time and they’ve tried to solve the problem by concentrating on fool only. As they’ve acted like hungry animals rather than human beings, they have been the captive of the witch. The house and the old witch being the source of food are symbolized as a mother. This story gives us a message that greed leads to destruction. Hansel and Gretel manage to get rid of the witch when they start thinking and behaving like human beings. The white duck that helps Hansel and Gretel get home carrying across the water stretch is the symbol of a new beginning. The duck can carry only one child at one time shows that children must learn to live independently without any support from their brothers and sisters. The bird which led them to the gingerbread house is a symbol of peace. When Hansel and Gretel return home, they have grown up and started helping their father. The help they render is symbolized by the jewels. The family is considered rich and happy not because of the wealth but because Hansel and Gretel have learnt to think and act like matured people.
2. Political analysis of Hansel and Gretel.
Ans: This story Hansel and Gretel written by Jack Zipes from the political point of view tell us about the struggle between the poor and rich group of people. The woodcutter and his family represent the poor class people who are forced to commit deeds because of their poverty. The witch represents the aristocratic class of people and also symbolizes as the entire feudal system. She is also symbolized as the greed brutality of the aristocracy which is responsible for the difficult condition of the poorer class of people. The killing of the witch is a symbolical realization of the hatred felt by the poor people because of the oppression and exploitation of them by the aristocratic people. The writer depicts the class conflict and exposes the prejudice and injustice of feudal ideology. The writer emphasizes that poor people must be optimistic and should react appropriately against the oppressors for the transition of the situation in their favour.
3. How did the witch tempt the children in the gingerbread house? What had she planned at last? 
Ans: The witch tempted the children by making her house with delicious chocolate, honey and bread. She became kind and lovable to them at first. She took them inside her house and gave them delicious food and comfortable room. She had planned to fatten them and eat at last. So, she imprisoned Hansel and made Gretel work hard. But cunning Gretel killed the witch pushing into the oven and freed her brother.
4. What role do the birds have in the story, Hansel and Gretel? [2072 partial, 2070]
Ans: The birds play a vital role in the story “Hansel and Gretel”. They teach children to live their life. There are three examples related to birds. Firstly the birds eat the pieces of bread. So, the children can’t return to their home and get lost in the forest. Here the birds make the children walk on the way of struggle because life is full of struggle. Secondly, the birds lead the children to the gingerbread house. When they reach there the witch tries to kill Hansel for her food. But Gretel killed the witch pushing her into the oven. In this way, they learn to solve the obstacles there due to birds because the birds lead them up to gingerbread house. Finally, the birds (ducks) help them to cross the river which means they entered into the world of maturity.
5. What role does Gretel play to save her brother and herself from the witch? 
Ans: When Hansel and Gretel reach to the gingerbread house, Hansel is imprisoned in the stable by the witch. One day the witch plans to kill Hansel for a dish. The witch has already heated the oven and asked Gretel to check the oven either it is ready or not to bake Hansel. Clever Gretel understands the witch’s trick. So, she asks the witch to demonstrate how to enter into the oven. Gretel kills the witch while she was entering into the oven and frees her brother, Hansel. In this way, Gretel plays the role of maturity, responsibility, rationality to save her brother and herself from the witch.
6. Describe the character of Hansel. 
Ans: Hansel is an intelligent boy. When his parents decide to take the children to the forest, he collects shining pebbles to drop on the way so that he can return by following the dropped pebbles. Although he is a child, he acts very wisely. He is a loving brother too. He loves his sister very much. He is tolerant as well because he doesn’t quarrel with his parents although he listens to their plan of taking them to the forest.
7. Why does Hansel drop shiny pebbles on the way to the forest? 
Ans: “Hansel and Gretel” is a fairy tale written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. In the story, a poor woodcutter lives near the forest. He has a second wife and two children. His son’s name is Hansel and his daughter’s name is Gretel. He runs his life by selling the firewood. Once there was a famine in the village. So, the stepmother forces her husband to leave the children in the forest. But while going to the forest, Hansel drops pebbles on the way so that he can return successfully with the help of pebbles he has dropped.