Hansel and Gretel: A Christian Fairy Tale
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Welcome to this week’s Fairy Tale Summary, showing some of the Christianity hidden in the story, Hansel and Gretel.
Click on “Fairy Tale Summaries” in the keywords list to see a list of all of my summaries of fairy tales.
The Summary of My Summary
Hansel and Gretel is about Adam and Eve, salvation, and the reuniting of a family after their fall and redemption. They’re not exactly Adam and Eve, but they are symbols for them. This is why, in the middle of a forest that has lots of dangerous wild animals, there’s a house made of candy. And that house was made specifically to tempt children by an evil witch who is not human.
If she’s trying to tempt children, why would she build her trap in the middle of nowhere?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to build a trap for them in a place that’s at least close to where they are?
There’s a reason for this though—let’s see what happens!
In the Beginning
The story starts with famine, and all in the land are dying.
“Land” in the Bible always means the Promised Land. In the Old Testament that means Jerusalem, in the New Testament it means Heaven, aka the “Heavenly Jerusalem.”
All of the characters are facing death in the beginning of the story
In response to the possibility of her own death, the mother (later referred to as their step-mother) tells her husband that by killing the children, they can save themselves.
The Trails Behind Them
The first attempt to kill the children fails, because Hansel leaves a trail of rocks behind him, and he and Gretel eat the bread they’re given to stave off their hunger.
When the moon rises, they can see the light reflected off of the rocks, and follow the trail home.
Bread in a Christian story is always symbolic of the Bread of Life (John 6), so they survive on it the first time, but Hansel leaves his scattered behind them the second time so they don’t have enough to eat that day.
Instead, they find the witch’s house, which is made of ginger BREAD and candy. They settle for the bread of this world which nourished their bodies instead of the supersubstantial bread of Christ which would have brought them to heaven, and are taken in by the witch’s charm.
This is the Fall
A male and female surrounded by lots of vegetation (or in a garden setting)
Eating food they know is not theirs (so they shouldn’t eat it)
And it is a sin (forbidden) to steal
They fall right into the witch’s trap.
As a result, Gretel is enslaved, and Hansel is being fattened up for the witch to devour him.
The suffering she undergoes causes Gretel to repent, and she cries out to God for help.
The witch rebukes her saying, “Spare me your lamentations,” because she recognizes Gretel’s words as a prayer to God. When the witch tries to kill Gretel, she is instead tricked into climbing into the oven and dies in the fiery kiln.
So what happens?
The Witch who Symbolizes the Devil Goes to Her Own Eternal Reward in the Oven
And of course the oven, with its heat and flames, is a symbol of the fiery pit of hell.
Gretel could have snuck out at any time before that, but because she loved her brother, she stayed and endured suffering at the witch’s hands until she was able to destroy the evil witch and then set him free.
As they leave, they fill their pockets with pearls and precious gems to bring home, instead of the rocks and bread which they had before.
They are in Heaven
They have conquered sin, death has been destroyed, and the pearls and precious gems are those found in Rev 21:19-26, as the treasure and wealth that is brought from all the nations to God the Father in heaven, and form the foundation for the city wall.
This is what they bring with them when they are reunited with their father at the end of the story.
When they cross over the water on the back of a duck, they are in heaven. This is the life-giving water in Rev 22:17.
The undoing of the Fall in Gen 3 is also shown in the duck’s reaction: it doesn’t flee from them, it recognizes their dominion over it and there is harmony between man and nature as there was originally before the Fall.
Reunited After the Fall
When they are reunited with their father in their home, the home has changed.
The stepmother has died, but their father lived.
He repented, while the one who embraced and represented death has herself died, because no sin can enter heaven.
The reunion of the children with their father, with no grudges held, shows the forgiveness of sins (even a grave sin like murder) that is necessary to enter heaven, which is now their home.
The story ends with:
“Then was all care at an end, and they lived in great joy together”
because they are in heaven and that's where...
They all live happily ever after!
List of Posts in the "Fairy Tale Fridays" Series:
Check out these previous posts in this series:
Hansel and Gretel: A Christian Fairy Tale (this post)
Cover Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay