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Encyclopedia > Rumpelstiltskin
Illustration of Rumpelstiltskin from Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book, ca. 1889
Illustration of Rumpelstiltskin from Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book, ca. 1889

Rumpelstiltskin is a dwarf character in a fairy tale of the same name that originated in Germany (where he is known as Rumpelstilzchen). The tale was collected by the Brothers Grimm, who first published it in the 1812 edition of Children's and Household Tales. It was subsequently revised in later editions until the final version was published in 1857. Image File history File links Rumpelstiltskin. ... Image File history File links Rumpelstiltskin. ... For the former National Basketball Association player, see Andrew Lang (basketball). ... Rumpelstiltskin from The Blue Fairy Book, by Henry J. Ford Andrew Langs Fairy Books are a twelve-book series of fairy tale collections. ... A fairy tale is a story, either told to children or as if told to children, concerning the adventures of mythical characters such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, giants, and others. ... For other uses, see Brothers Grimm (disambiguation). ... Grimms Kinder- und Hausmärchen - Erster Theil (1812) Cover Art The world famous collection of German (and French) fairy tales Kinder- und Hausmärchen (KHM; English: Childrens and Household Tales), commonly known as Grimms Fairy Tales, was published by Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm and Wilhelm Karl Grimm... 1857 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ...


Plot synopsis

In order to make himself appear more important, a miller lied to the king that his daughter could spin straw into gold. The king called for the girl, shut her in a tower room with straw and a spinning wheel, and demanded that she spin the straw into gold by morning, for three nights, or be executed. (Some versions say that if she failed, she would be skewered and then frikasseed like a pig). She had given up all hope, when a dwarf appeared in the room and spun straw into gold for her in return for her necklace; then again the following night for her ring. On the third night, when she had nothing with which to reward him, the strange creature spun straw into gold for a promise that the girl's first-born child would become his. A spinning wheel is a device for making thread or yarn from fibrous material such as wool or cotton. ... Bales of straw bundles of rice straw Pile of straw bales, sheltered under a tarpaulin Straw is an agricultural byproduct, the dry stalk of a cereal plant, after the nutrient grain or seed has been removed. ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ... A spinning wheel is a device for making thread or yarn from fibrous material such as wool or cotton. ... This article is about the mythical creature. ... For other uses, see Rule of three. ...

The king was so impressed that he let the miller's daughter marry his son, the prince, but when their first child was born, the dwarf returned to claim his payment: "Now give me what you promised". The queen was frightened and offered him all the wealth she had if she could keep the child. The dwarf refused but finally agreed to give up his claim to the child if the queen could guess his name in three days. At first she failed, but before the second night, her messenger overheard the dwarf hopping about his fire and singing:

"Today I bake, tomorrow I brew,
Today for one
Tomorrow for two
Little knows my royal dame
Rumpelstiltskin is my name"

When the dwarf came to the queen on the third day and she revealed his name, Rumpelstiltskin lost his bargain. In the 1812 edition of the Brothers Grimm tales, Rumpelstiltskin then "ran away angrily, and never came back". The ending was revised in a final 1857 edition to a more gruesome version where Rumpelstiltskin "in his rage drove his right foot so far into the ground that it sank in up to his waist; then in a passion he seized the left foot with both hands and tore himself in two." Other versions have Rumpelstiltskin driving his right foot so far into the ground that he creates a chasm and falls into it, never to be seen again. In the oral version originally collected by the brothers Grimm, Rumpelstiltskin flies out of the window on a cooking ladle (Heidi Anne Heiner). Silver ladle - Hallmarked 1876-7 (on 5cm squares) Aluminium ladle (on 5cm squares) Melamine ladle (on 5cm squares) Steel ladle (on 5cm squares) A ladle is a type of spoon used to serve soup or other liquids. ...

The literal translation of his rhyme is:

"I am preparing, food and drink
Just for one person today
Tomorrow there will be two of us!
The Queen doesn't know,
Rumpelstiltskin is my name!"

Name origins

The name Rumpelstilzchen in German means literally "little rattle stilt". (A stilt is a post or pole providing support for a structure.) A rumpelstilt or rumpelstilz ("rattle stilt") was the name of a type of goblin, also called a pophart or poppart ("rapper" or "thumper") that makes noises by rattling posts and rapping on planks, similar to a rumpelgeist ("rattle ghost") or poltergeist ("noisy ghost"), a mischievous spirit that clatters and moves household objects. (Other related concepts are mummarts or boggarts that are mischievous household spirits that disguise themselves.) For other uses, see Goblin (disambiguation). ...   (from German poltern and Geist, noisy ghost, spirit, or embodiment) denotes a spirit or ghost that manifests itself by moving and influencing objects. ... In British folklore, a boggart (or bogart, bogan, bogle or boggle) is a household spirit, sometimes mischievous, sometimes helpful. ...

The earliest known mention of Rumpelstiltskin occurs in Johann Fischart's Geschichtklitterung, or Gargantua of 1577 (a loose adaptation of Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel) which refers to an "amusement" for children named "Rumpele stilt or the Poppart". Johann Fischart (c. ... Events March 17 - formation of the Cathay Company to send Martin Frobisher back to the New World for more gold May 28 - Publication of the Bergen Book, better known as the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, one of the Lutheran confessional writings. ... François Rabelais François Rabelais (c. ... Gargantua and Pantagruel is a connected series of five novels written in the 16th century by François Rabelais. ...

In other languages

Rumpelstiltskin is a widespread tale, known almost universally in cultures that depend on spinning for clothing. [1]

The being is known by a variety of names in a number of other languages:

  • Arabic: جعيدان (Ju'aidan)
  • Czech: Rumplcimprcampr
  • Danish: Rumleskaft
  • Dutch: Repelsteeltje
  • English: Rumpelstiltskin and Tom Tit Tot (from English Fairy Tales, collected & edited by Joseph Jacobs, 1884)
  • Finnish: Tittelintuure
  • French: Grigrigredinmenufretin
  • German: Rumpelstilzchen
  • Hebrew: עוץ לי גוץ לי (ootz li gootz li)
  • Hungarian: Pancimanci
  • Iceland: Rumputuski
  • Italian: Tremotino or Praseidimio
  • Japanese: ルンペルシュティルツヒェン(Runperushuteirutsuhien), がたがたの竹馬こぞう(Gatagata-no-takeuma-kozou)
  • Korean: 럼펠스틸트스킨 (reompelseutilteuseukin)
  • Persian: رامپل استل کین (Rumpel Stel Kin)
  • Polish: Titelitury
  • Portuguese: Rumpelstiltskin and O Anão Dançarino (the dancing dwarf)
  • Russian: Гном-Тихогром
  • Slovak: Martin Klingáčik
  • Slovenian: Špicparkeljc
  • Spanish: Rumpelstiltskin and El Enano Saltarín (the jumping dwarf).
  • Swedish: Bulleribasius and Päronskaft (pear stalk)
  • Greek language : ΡΟΥΜΠΕΛΣΤΙΝΤΣΚΙΝ

Other elements may also vary: in Tom Tit Tot, the girl ate five pies, and her mother scolded her. When the king heard it and asked what had happened, the woman lied and said she had been talking of the five skeins her daughter had spun, and that speed of spinning was what interested him. Arabic redirects here. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Joseph Jacobs (1854, Australia - 1916) was a British literary historian. ... Year 1884 (MDCCCLXXXIV) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Sunday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar). ... Hebrew redirects here. ... Farsi redirects here. ... Greek ( IPA: or simply IPA: — Hellenic) has a documented history of 3,500 years, the longest of any single language in the Indo-European language family. ...

The Scottish fairy tale Whuppity Stoorie, though differing from Rumpelstiltskin in every other respect, has the heroine guessing the name of a helper to save her baby, and is therefore classified with it. Whuppity Stoorie is a Scottish fairy tale collected by Robert Chambers in Popular Rhymes of Scotland. ...


The story of Rumpelstiltskin is an example of Aarne and Thompson's folklore type 500 (The Name of the Helper; see links below). Other fairy tale themes in the story include the Impossible Task, the Hard Bargain, the Changeling Child, and, above all, the Secret Name. Antti Amatus Aarne (1867 - 1925) was a Finnish folklorist, who developed the initial version of what became the Aarne-Thompson classification system of classifying folktales, first published in 1910. ... It has been suggested that True name (legal) be merged into this article or section. ...

Rumpelstiltskin is most commonly interpreted as a cautionary tale against bragging (compare with the concept of hubris in Greek mythology), but in this case not the miller himself but rather his daughter is punished for his lies. An alternative explanation is that the tale could have been meant to teach women the importance of performing a supporting role in their later marriage. The gift of spinning straw into gold is seen here as a metaphor for the value of household skills. Indeed, the king in this tale does not seem to be interested in the girl besides her alleged magical capabilities — even though her beauty is mentioned in passing — and she exists only to bring him riches and bear his children. Hubris or hybris (Greek ), according to its modern usage, is exaggerated self pride or self-confidence (overbearing pride), often resulting in fatal retribution. ... The bust of Zeus found at Otricoli (Sala Rotonda, Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican) Greek mythology is the body of stories belonging to the Ancient Greeks concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. ...

The dwarf's demand for the girl's first-born child probably has remnants of older legends which held that malignant sprites and goblins would steal unattended babies and replace them with a child (or "changeling") of their own.[2] (Similar tales exist about trolls as well, though their motives were generally seen as selfish rather than unpleasant, in that they supposedly found some of their own children too humanoid to exist among them.) However, tales like these in themselves were intended to stop children from playing outside without care, or mothers from leaving their children in danger, and the miller, famously, puts his own child in the power of a greedy king, while she in turn agrees to hand over her child to a virtual stranger. For other uses, see Goblin (disambiguation). ... Trolls with the changeling they have raised, John Bauer, 1913. ... For other uses, see Troll (disambiguation). ...

Another tale revolves about a girl trapped by false claims about her spinning abilities: The Three Spinners. However, the three women who assist that girl do not demand her first born, but that she invite them to her wedding and say that they are relatives of hers. With this more reasonable request, she complies, and is freed from her hated spinning when they tell the king that their hideous looks spring from their endless spinning. In one Italian variant, she must discover their names, as with Rumpelstiltskin, but not for the same reason: she must use their names to invite them, and she has forgotten them. The Three Spinners is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. ...


Rumpelstiltskin Syndrome is an analogical reference to the role of the king in the story of Rumpelstiltskin. Common practice in middle-management is to impose unreasonable work demands on subordinates. Upon completion of the task or tasks in question, equal or higher work demands are then imposed; moreover, no credit, acknowledgement, or overt appreciation is demonstrated by way of recognition. The story of Rumpelstiltskin is discussed in Walter Tevis's science-fiction novel The Man Who Fell to Earth. The main character in the novel, an extraterrestrial, is analogized to the Rumpelstiltskin character. Also, Rumpelstiltskin appeared to be an evil character in The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley. Walter Stone Tevis (February 28, 1928 - August 8, 1984) was an American author. ... A French poster for the film The Man Who Fell to Earth is a novel by Walter Tevis about an extraterrestrial who crashlands on Earth seeking a way to ship water to his planet, which is suffering from a severe drought. ... This article is considered orphaned, since there are very few or no other articles that link to this one. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...

References in popular culture

  • The book Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli and Richard Tchen
  • A song called Rumpelstiltskin John Otway on the album The Pen-Ultimate features the chorus "Give us the baby, Rumpelstiltskin, Rumpelstiltskin"
  • In the PC game Kings Quest 1 there's a character called Nikstlitslepmur - Rumpelstiltskin spelled backwards.
  • I.M. Rumpelstilzchen, a song on the Megaherz album, Herzwerk II (song title translates roughly to Unofficial Collaborator Rumpelstiltskin).
  • Rumpelstiltskin was brought to life in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode If Wishes Were Horses.
  • Rumpelstiltskin was the name given to a suspect in The Closer episode "The Round File" when he told Brenda and her team to figure out his name for themselves.
  • Rumpelstiltskin was also referred in The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.
  • Rumpelstiltskin is featured in Shrek the Third as part of Prince Charming's villain army.
  • In Scary Movie 4 Mr president (played by Leslie Neilson refers to him as "Rumple-fore-skin"(as in foreskin, a part of the penis)
  • Anne Sexton refers to Rumpelstiltskin in her poem "The Abortion."
  • Rumpelstiltskin is also a protagonist character in the anime "the good witch of the west".
  • Jonathan Carroll's book Sleeping in Flame features a Rumpelstiltskin-type father/son relationship.
  • Rumpelstiltskin is the name the killer uses in the book "The Analyst" by John Katzenbach where the killer communicates with the main character through rhymes published on the New York Times newspaper.

Otway at Glastonbury Festival, 2002. ... I.M. Rumpelstilzchen is a song by Megaherz, a German band. ... For the unit of frequency, see megahertz. ... Herzwerk II is the fourth full album from the German band Megaherz. ... Space station Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (ST:DS9 or STDS9 or DS9 for short) is a science fiction television series produced by Paramount and set in the Star Trek universe. ... The Closer is an American television police drama series. ... For the 1982 feature film based on the novel, see The Last Unicorn (film). ... Peter Soyer Beagle (born in 1939) is an American fantasist and author of novels, nonfiction, and screenplays. ... This article is about the film. ... Scary Movie 4 is a fourth film of the Scary Movie franchise and is directed by David Zucker, written by Jim Abrahams, Craig Mazin and Pat Proft, and produced by Craig Mazin and Robert K. Weiss. ... Leslie Nielsen Leslie William Nielsen, OC (born February 11, 1926 in Regina, Saskatchewan) is a Canadian actor and absurdist comedian. ... Jonathan Samuel Carroll (b. ... Sleeping in Flame is a novel by the American writer Jonathan Carroll, originally published in 1988. ...


  1. ^ Maria Tatar, p 124, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, ISBN 0-393-05163-3
  2. ^ Maria Tatar, p 128, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, ISBN 0-393-05163-3

Anne Sexton refers to Rumpelstiltskin in her poem "The Abortion."

External links

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