Is there more to the story of Hansel and Gretel?
Or, is it just a story about a mean, evil stepmother who
sends her two stepchildren out into the woods to
fend for themselves?
So, here goes.
I see the story of Hansel and Gretel as the edge between adolescence and young adult-hood. It's a story of when it's time to "grow-up" and take steps on your own.
If a fairy tale is a story containing symbols and the symbols are pieces of our personal psyche (as Carl Jung suggested), then how does this particular one play out. Let's start with the basic characters: Father, Mother (even though she's absent from the story, she's there by fact that there are two children), Stepmother, Hansel, Gretel. Now, let's assign them their purpose in the story:
Father = provider
Mother = nurturer
Hansel = faith, hope, trust
Gretel = fear
Hansel + Gretel = the combined energy of masculine and feminine that we all, individually, hold
Step-mother = learning to self-nurture. I'll explain this thought.
At some point in all of our lives, we need to take the lessons learned from our mother's and begin to apply them to ourselves, for ourselves. It's a difficult step to take, one that is not always easily assumed. It's much easier to stay the child and be taken care of then to take the next step and nurture ourselves. So, the idea of "evil stepmother" comes into play. In a child's mind the mother wouldn't hurt or harm them, but the stepmother would send them out to learn how to take care of themselves. In a sense, we become the step-mother in our efforts of trying to nurture ourselves as our mother would.
The other character symbols at the beginning of the story are, The Great Forest and the Cottage. Jung suggested that the great forest is the deep dark yearnings of our soul, the going inward to the dark places, our spirit. The cottage represents the body.
So, that's it for now. Something to start thinking about. In my next blog, I will start applying these ideas to the story and we can see how it all plays out.