I have done a few articles on Fairy Tales and still profess that they are the precursors of horror. These stories, though fanciful, are dark, brooding, didactic, and often gory or disturbing. The real tragedy is that so many of the greatest fairy tales are unknown because Disney hasn’t watered them down yet; however, I feel that those ones are the best ones because there really isn’t a natural way to water them down.
All-Kinds-of-Fur (Allerleiruh) is one of those fairy tales that isn’t gory or anything, but it is a great story that leaves a very uncomfortable feeling I the pit of the reader’s stomach…and isn’t that what we all crave?
The tale starts off with the death of a queen who was the most beautiful woman in all the land. On her death bed, she told her husband that he could marry again, but “if thou wishest to marry again after my death, take no one who is not quite as beautiful as I am.” After that pompous and handcuffing last wish, she died.
Well that king was obviously distraught at the loss of his wife, but the kingdom needed a queen. So he searched and searched and searched for a woman as beautiful as the late queen, but had no luck. He even sent scouts out to search the lands around the kingdom…no luck. Here comes the worms in the stomach feeling. Before dying, the queen had given birth to a daughter. As she grew, the king realized how much she looked like her mother…”quite as beautiful,” in fact. The king told his golden-haired daughter that she would be his new queen. Obviously she wasn’t; a fan of this and thought of a way to trick her dad. She said that she would marry him, but needed three dresses, one “as golden as the sun, one as silvery as the moon, and one as bright as the stars.” Additionally, she requested a coat made of a thousand different furs joined together, furs of every animal in the land. If she got those seemingly impossible things, she agreed to marry the king…yup, her dad.
The king proved to be far more resourceful than his daughter assumed and provided her with everything she had requested. The princess decides that her only course of action would be to run away. She took her three dresses, wrapped herself in the fur coat, escaped into the night, covered herself in soot and ash and found a hollow tree in the nearby forest.
The next morning hunters (including the king) found her, but thought she was a wild animal due to the furs. When the king finally realized that she was human, he still didn’t recognize her because of the soot and ash covering her face. She claimed to be an orphan named Allerlairauh and was taken to the castle to work as a servant in the kitchen
I love the themes and troupes in these fairy tales. The number three comes up in almost every tale, this one is no different. A large feast happened in the castle and the disguised princess requested to go up, sit outside the door and listen to the party. The head of the kitchen allowed the hairy servant to go. Here is where the three-theme comes into play. The princes, before going to the feast, washes her face and puts on her gold dress, danced with her father and then ran off back into her disguise before the night was over. She then placed a royal ring into her father’s soup before it was brought upstairs. The king came rushing down to the kitchen to hunt for her when he found the ring, but only found the cook and Allerlairauh. The next feast, she wore the silver dress and the same situation.
The third time, in the dress that shone like stars, the king carefully slipped a little ring onto his daughter’s finger without her knowing. The king found another token in his soup and came hunting a third time. This time he saw the golden ring on Allerlairauh’s finger, ripped of the fur coat to reveal his daughter and announced “thou art my dear bride, and we will never more part from each other.” A short time later the king married his daughter who was equally as beautiful as her mother.
Okay, not a terrifying tale of terror, but still a very disturbing tale that shows how pioneering the Brothers Grimm truly were as the godfathers of horror.
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