The Story of Hansel and Gretel CrankaTsuris(™)
In the end of The Last Surviving Dinosaur: The TyrantoCrankaTsuris, the father tells the daughter, “So we learned to be careful not to express our inner TyrantoCrankaTsuris or TyrantoKvetchaTsuris too often. Just the right amount to keep the planet happy and not too cranky.”
So, I bring up Hansel and Gretel. Because with these two kids, there was tsuris to be sure, but CrankaTsuris or KvetchaTsuris was nowhere to be found. At least with them.
To recount the story, apparently, Hansel and Gretel’s parents were not doing quite so well financially, and rather than go to relatives or friends for help, they thought it would be best to take Hansel and Gretel out into the forest, and face a horrible and painful death by being mauled and then eaten by wild animals than possibly starve at home.
They tried this twice. The first time, Hansel was smart and overheard his parents, and rather than complain what terrible parents they were, or call Family Services, or the Police, Hansel stuffed his pockets with pebbles so when they were all the way out in the forest, Hansel and Gretel were able to find their way back home.
This failed attempt apparently did not deter the parents again to try to dump their kids into the forest. They probably even took a different route because when Hansel dropped bread crumbs this time to get back home, birds had eaten the bread crumbs, and there were no pebbles. Hansel and Gretel were now stuck in the forest.
Hansel and Gretel then find the Wicked Witch’s house, get captured by the Witch, and Hansel gets put in the oven because the Witch’s favorite dish is Stuffed Hansel Pie. Hansel tricks the witch, and she gets pushed into the oven.
Hansel and Gretel then discover the fabulous wealth the witch possessed. Gold, jewels, and coins (and not to even the valuable property she owned since it was a one of kind house).
Apparently, the Wicked Witch did not have a will, and there was no executor of her estate because Hansel and Gretel took the gold, jewels, and coins back to their parents. Also, I am guessing that, with all the money they found, they were able to afford a car service to take them back home. And, moreover, Hansel and Gretel were not bothered in the slightest, that on two separate occasions, their parents attempted to cause their kids to face a premature and grisly death at the mouths and claws of wild beasts.
They lived happily ever after.
Just imagine this family scene if the parents were successful. Hansel and Gretel were in fact eaten by wild animals, and shortly thereafter, the grandparents show up unexpectedly.
Grandma: Surprise! We thought we would drop in to say hello. We missed our delicious two grandkids, Hansel and Gretel, and we bought some outfits for them and some toys.
Grandpa: Let me tell you. We skipped a couple of meals so we were able to afford the presents. But you know how much we love them!! I can eat both of them up! They are so delicious! Where are they? Grandma and I want to give both of them great big hugs!!
Mother: Do you want to tell them or should I?
Father: Uh. Uh. Could you tell them?
Mother: I think you should tell them. It was your idea. And, they are your parents!!
Father: My idea!! We both agreed, and you said you were tired of cooking for them. Ok. I will tell them.
Grandpa and Grandma: Tell us what?
Father: Well, it is like this. You know how things have been tough since I lost my job at the factory. And our meals were getting smaller and smaller, and you know how kids are. Their appetites were getting bigger and bigger. They were literally eating us out of house and home!
Grandma: So, where are they?
Mother: So, we thought of the idea that it would be better for Hansel and Gretel to get eaten by wild animals than to starve here a slow death, or really, we were afraid they would not stop eating and we would be dying a slow death from starvation.
Grandpa: So, they were eaten by wild animals?
Father: Yup. Yes. Yes. That is right. Flesh. Bones. Everything. Not clothing. Didn’t eat that.
Grandma: Wait a second. You said you were starving. We walked in here, and I smell some delicious roasted meat. Something I have never smelled before.
Mother: Yes. That is good news. After we dropped Hansel and Gretel in the forest and after they were eaten by wild animals, we were still hungry so we decided, or I decided to send your son out hunting.
Father: And I captured and killed the wild animals that ate Hansel and Gretel. So, in a sense, Hansel and Gretel are here. It is just that they are here in spirit. Is that right? Or just-food.
Grandpa and Grandma: Well, they smell delicious and we are hungry. Let’s eat!!
And they ate happily ever after!!
Even if we assume Hansel and Gretel escape the Wicked Witch and bring home to their parents this unexpected wealth, how do we really know that they live happily ever after? Maybe the parents get greedy and take Hansel and Gretel out to the forest close to the Wicked Witch’s sister who also happens to be wealthy, and they think that Hansel will trick the sister as well, except that the sister knew what happened before, and she ordered a top of the line oven that is a convection oven and locks, and one that fits both Hansel and Gretel.
So, we read this story to our children over and over again, and the illustrations are always wonderful, no matter what version. But we never question the premise of the story. Parents behaved badly. Children never complained. Parents get mightily rewarded in the end. Kids are happy, and there is nothing to forgive the parents for.
I guess that is why parents love the story. Children never complaining no matter what!! That is awesome!!
Well, let’s not get carried away with that. Let’s read this story anew with our CrankaTsuris and KvetchaTsuris mind. This is the mind that questions and challenges, and this is the mind that seeks justice. This should always be our thinking mind.
“So we learned to be careful not to express our inner TyrantoCrankaTsuris or TyrantoKvetchaTsuris too often. Just the right amount to keep the planet happy and not too cranky.”