The Disturbing Origins of 10 Famous Fairy Tales

Rumpelstiltskin

This story is pretty simple: a miller’s daughter is trapped and forced to spin straw into gold, on pain of death. A little man appears to her, and spins it for her, but says that he will take her child in payment unless she can guess his name. In the Grimm version, as retold by Pullman, when the maiden finally figures out Rumpelstiltskin’s name, he reacts rather badly: ‘The Devil told you that! The Devil told you that!’ the little man yelled, and in his fury he stamped his right foot so hard that he drove it into the ground right up to his waist. Then he took hold of his left foot with both hands and tore himself in two.” Ick.