14 Gruesome Original Versions Behind Your Favorite Fairy Tales

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Thought fairy tales were all pampered princesses and happily-ever-afters? Think again. 

The original versions of some of our best-loved fairy tales are a far cry from their Hollywood incarnations - with violence, gore, sexual threat, abuse and poverty all part of the plot. 

We’ve glossed over the true nature of these nursery songs and bedtime stories for the best part of a century - so here are the darkest fairy tales from the bookshelf revealed.

1. Little Red Riding Hood

Yes, off to grandmother’s house she went, but in some original versions, the wolf arrived to the house early and chopped up the grandmother, putting her flesh in the pantry and blood in a wine bottle. 

He tells Red to have something to eat; she does, unknowing they are her grandmother’s remnants. Some also include the girl stripping naked, burning her clothes, getting into bed, and being eaten by the wolf.

 

2. Snow White

This Brothers Grimm tale paints a much darker story with the evil queen ordering the huntsman to take Snow White into the woods, kill her, and bring back her liver and lungs for the queen to eat. 

Later in the story, the prince and Snow White are getting married and invite all royalty in the land. The evil queen shows up, unknowing it was her stepdaughter’s wedding. 

When she arrives, she’s forced to step into burning-hot iron shoes brought from the fireplace and dance until she dies. That’s a hell of a tango.

3. Cinderella

In a Brothers Grimm version, Cinderella’s eldest sister, in an attempt to fit into the glass (golden, in their story) slipper, cuts off her toes. The second sister cuts off her heel. In both cases, two doves sent by Cinderella’s dead mother alert the prince of the sisters’ blood in the slippers. 

Though Cinderella was finally found to be the true owner of the slipper, during her wedding to the prince the doves return and poke her older sisters’ eyes out.

4. Sleeping Beauty

Italian Giambattista Basile’s version of Sleeping Beauty is really dark – the king who finds the girl rapes her while she’s asleep. 

She later on gives birth (while asleep) and is awoken only because one of the kids sucks out a splinter under her finger which was keeping her asleep. 

The king later kills his wife (who tried to get him to unknowingly eat the children) to be with Sleeping Beauty.

5. Rumplestiltskin 

With a gruesome ending, the Brothers Grimm’s Rumpelstiltskin tells the story of an imp who makes a deal with a miller’s daughter. 

Her father tells the king she can weave straw into gold (she can’t) so he puts her to it, saying he’ll kill her if she doesn’t do it by morning. The girl meets an imp and they make a deal: he’ll weave the straw into gold if she gives him her firstborn. 

When the child is born, she can’t give it up. He agrees to relent if she can guess his real name. The girl snoops at his house and overhears him singing it. Next day, she tells him his true name and, in a fit of rage, he drives his right foot into the ground then grabs his left foot and tears himself in two.

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