Not so long ago I was sat in the waiting room of a garage whilst my mother’s tyres were being replaced. That familiar and horrible moment came along where you confront the table stacked high with Look and Heat magazines so old that the front cover is of the first big brother winner. It’s a trying time. Still it’s a no contest when your only other option is avoiding the glances of the hollow eyed, bored patrons of the tyre shop.
It was at this moment I stumbled across a copy of Rumpelstiltskin. I briefly thought of the young child who must have left the book on his seat before leaving, thanked him in my head and proceeded to read. The story of Rumpelstiltskin was new to me, it had somehow slipped through the cracks of my childhood and I’ll be honest, I was somewhat buzzed to have found a book of interest within this library of dog eared gloss.
What a page turner. I have posted a link below to the original version of the story as wrote by The Brothers Grim.
I have since been pondering the moral values of Rumpelstiltskin. I feel naught but sorry for this poor creature. He seems to be the only honest character in the entire story. I have broken this story down by character to explain my meaning.
Father to a lovely and beautiful daughter who entrenches himself in a lie to the king.
“that his daughter could spin gold out of straw”
Then his daughter is taken from him. Does he own up to his mistakes? Does he plead for her return? Does he think ahead that his daughter can’t make true on his promises? No. We hear no more from him.
- Lesson 1 – Always have a fall guy; if you get away with a lie, you have around 24 hours to get to Mexico.
The first real villain we meet, proud ruler of ‘the country a long way off’, a ruthless man of greed.
“All this must be spun into gold before morning, as you love your life.”
Unbeknownst to him a creature has gained entrance to his castle, eluded all his guards secured passage into a locked room, spent an entire night spinning gold and escaped without capture in the morning. Three times.
Twice has the king threatened the poor millers daughter with death should she not spin the gold. Finally, the most sordid of all deals is made. An indecent proposal.
“All this must be spun tonight; and if it is, you shall be my queen”
And so he does find all the gold in the morning, thus they do marry and produce offspring. All the while he is unaware his marriage and children are based on lies and deceit.
- Lesson 2 – Prenuptial agreements; find a good lawyer, one who won’t overlook any previous deals made with Rumpelstiltskin.
The Millers Daughter
A classic damsel in distress, sold by her father, enslaved by the king and tricked by Rumpelstiltskin.
“Then say you will give me,’ said the little man, ’the first little child that you may have when you are queen”
Hold up. We have established two death threats, yet the third is a proposal. Now if you ask me, that’s an easy out. She could have had a good night’s sleep, awoke in the morning on the barns of hay, been released, and lived a fulfilled life as a Miller. Instead she gambles away her first born child in the hope of becoming queen.
- Lesson 3 – Don’t judge a book by its cover; Just because a man enslaves and threatens you, doesn’t mean he isn’t good ‘marriage material’.
- Lesson 4 – Act first, think second; who knows, maybe you’re infertile? Gambling away your unborn child is most certainly a ‘safe bet’.
Alas I am not done with our poor Millers Daughter. Finally when the time does come, she has forgotten all about her sordid deals and as stated Rumpelstiltskin does come looking for his child. Though a fair bargain was struck he is pushed back to a three day extension on their deal. The small print you might ask?
‘I will give you three days’ grace, and if during that time you tell me my name, you shall keep your child.’
- Lesson 5 – Don’t let them low ball you; you can always push for an extension on a loan. They’ll try and low ball you at first. Never take the first offer.
Rumpelstiltskin is by far the most honest character in this story. He strikes up 3 fair bargains, one for a necklace, one for a ring, and the last for a child. He waits until the Millers daughters life is in jeopardy no longer before asking for the child. Something only an honourable man would do.
He bides his time, and delivers an extension on the bargain. He even offers terms that favour the Millers Daughter.
Rumpelstiltskin is however an idiot; because only an idiot would stand outside his house singing the following song out loud, the day before payday.
“Merrily the feast I’ll make.
Today I’ll brew, tomorrow bake;
Merrily I’ll dance and sing,
For next day will a stranger bring.
Little does my lady dream
Rumpelstiltskin is my name!”
- Lesson 6 – Don’t count your chickens; someone may be watching and decide to steal an egg or two. Metaphorically speaking.
- Lesson 7 – Always have a contingency plan; Rumpelstiltskin 2 is yet to be written; a nice vengeance flick.
The Millers Daughter & The King
Well it seems the only lessons learnt by the winners in this story are you can, enslave, punish, lie, cheat and sex your way to the top. You can even keep all your gold, keep your children and live happily ever after.
- Lesson 8 – It pays to be the bad guy; i.e. good guys finish last.
“while the nurse laughed and the baby crowed; and all the court jeered at him for having had so much trouble for nothing, and said, ’We wish you a very good morning, and a merry feast, Mr RUMPLESTILTSKIN!”
- Lesson 9 – Gloating; completely acceptable, especially when you screw someone over and get everything you ever wanted and more.
I guess really, a thousand lessons can be taken from the tale of Rumpelstiltskin. Actions have no consequences, you can take the quick route to the top, hard work doesn’t pay off.
Overall I think the most valuable lesson would be that learnt from our poor little Rumpelstiltskin and possibly even the Miller.
- Lesson 10 – Be careful what you say; you never know who is listening.