Grimm’s Fairy Tale – Interpretation of the "Young Giant"

Grimm’s Fairy Tale – Interpretation of the "Young Giant"




The “Young Giant” is one of the many strange and meaningful fairy tales that never became popular. It begins as many fairy tales do, with a statement that it most certainly had not happening recently. The farmer of the tale has a child who is a thumbling. It is interesting to observe how many people of the past would commonly have thumblings within stories, such characters could indicate and awareness of the events occurring to them and what these meant.

From about 900 AD to 1200 AD people in Europe where about as tall as they are today, then over time their average height began to drop. It is interesting to observe how important nutrition is to height, and how the presence of a thumbling does seem to indicate poverty in folktales. At the same time of course making the main character a thumbling is in part to make their feats all the more meaningful, and in the case of this story that feat is the growing of the thumbling into a giant. For as the thumbling is in the field with his father giant comes and tales him away. This female giant then acts as a mother to the thumbling nursing him for years and making him grow and grow. After the now young giant has grown for a while his new mother takes him into the woods and has him rip up a sapling, however this does not satisfy the giantess who decides that the young giant needs to be nursed some more to get stronger. Three times the giant tears up trees in the forest before his new mother is satisfied, when he rips up the largest oak tree in the forest and snaps in half.

After pleasing his adoptive mother with his strength he goes back to his parents, who at first are afraid of him, denying that he is their son. He however does convince them of their relationship, after which he plows everything for them without the aid of horses, and then carries the horse’s home. The son asks his father for a staff, and his father then tries his best to provide one, however the young giant breaks each staff given to him by his father. Realizing that his father can no longer provide for him the young giant leaves home.

It is interesting to observe that when he was a thumbling all he wanted to do was help his father, when he grew he did great work for a fleeting period but left his parents as they could no longer help him. Certainly in order for the Age of Exploration and the Industrial Era’s to occur children did have to start leaving their parents in mass rather then staying at home to help them. As one might anticipate from such an event the young giant goes to find a smith, offering to work for the smith in return for the right to hit him. The smith being greedy agrees to these terms. The giant however cannot do much good at the forge for he is too strong, so after providing a hit he takes a rod of metal as his staff and leaves.

The Giant then offers to work for a bailiff in return for the right to hit the bailiff after a year. The Bali also being greedy agrees to this. After this the giant performs his duties well; however he hinders the other workers in secret to make himself look better. He sleeps in and in truth the work itself is not that hard for him due to his big size, this is hardly the work ethic people might associate with peasants and others of the Pre-Victorian eras. This does seem to indicate a certain amount of desire to be a lazier, and to look better then was truly possible. Further as the Young Giant ends the tale by hitting both the bailiff and his wife, sending them soaring by the air for nearly forever, there seems at all times to be some desire to hit those who are in charge especially should such people be greedy. In many ways the aspects of this story, the funny way in which the giant works, and the bosses are greedy and punished for it makes it an equivalent to a modern day office comedy. While such comedies cannot be taken completely seriously they do strike on a certain amount of truth with regards to the feelings towards the social structure of the time.




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