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Encyclopedia > The Twelve Wild Ducks

The Twelve Wild Ducks is a Norwegian fairy tale collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe. 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. ... Edition from 1896. ...

It is Aarne-Thompson type 451, the brothers who were turned into birds. 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. ...


A queen who had twelve sons and no daughter said she would not care what happened to her sons if she had a daughter as white as snow and as red as blood. A troll witch told her that she would have a daughter, and the witch would have her sons as soon as the baby was baptized. Trolls with an abducted princess (John Bauer, 1915). ... This article is part of the Witchcraft series. ...

Her daughter was born and christened "Snow-white and Rosy-red," and all her brothers were turned into wild ducks and flew away. Snow-white and Rosy-red was often sad when growing up, and one day the queen asked her why, and she said that everyone else had brothers and sisters, but she had none. So the queen told her about her brothers.

She set out and, after three years, found the cottage where her brothers lived. Having done all the housework, she slept in her youngest brother's bed. Her brothers found her, and her oldest brother wanted to kill her as the cause of their problems, but her youngest brother argued that it was their mother's fault, and the sister pled that she had searched for them for three years. They told her that she could set them free by weaving cloth of thistle-down, and making them all neckerchiefs, shirts, and coats, without crying, laughing, or speaking. She set to work. Her brothers flew off as wild ducks every day, but returned as men every night. The youngest son is a stock character in fairy tales, where he features as the hero. ...

A king finds her and brings her to his castle to marry her, over his stepmother's objections. She kept on sewing, but when she had a son, the old queen threw the baby into a pit of snakes and smeared her mouth with blood, to tell her stepson that the young queen killed and ate her baby. This happened three times, and the old queen finally persuaded the king to have his wife burned at the stake, but she finished the shirts. Her brothers came to take them and having turned back into men, told her to speak. She told the truth, and the princes showed them their babies, still alive in the snake pit. A stepfamily is the family one acquires when a parent marries someone new. ...

The king asked his mother what a fitting punishment would be for such a crime, and she prescribed being torn apart by twelve horses, and so she was.

See also

1 A KING was once hunting 2 in a great wood, 3 and he hunted the game so eagerly that none of his courtiers 4 could follow him. ... A story about the raven which is a combined entity made up of both the brothers greatest qualities. ... Snow White in her coffin, Theodor Hosemann, 1867. ... Sir Edward Burne-Jones painted The Sleeping Beauty. ...

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