A Grimm Review: Lions, Tigers, and Serial Killers…Oh My!

A Grimm Review: Lions, Tigers, and Serial Killers...Oh My! A Grimm Review: Lions, Tigers, and Serial Killers…Oh My!

That man with the epic mustache just off to the left is H.H. Holmes and he was a serial killer. I read a book about him a couple of months ago, The Devil in the White City. He was a terrible person. Holmes is a rather modern-day serial killer, practicing his killing in the 1890s, but serial killers have been around a long, long time. The Grimm’s fairy tales are no exception. They’re just full of serial killers.

Probably the most notorious story about a serial killer in the Grimm’s collection is The Robber Bridegroom, but there are several others. Fitcher’s Bird is another story about a serial killer. The list really goes on and on and on. Serial killers did exist in the days in which these stories were created. Serial killers are still around today, but we usually don’t hear about them until their pattern has become extremely apparent and then they generally sit on death row for years before being executed if they are executed at all. In the Grimms stories, villagers chose something more like vigilante justice. If they found out you were a serial killer, they strung you up right then and there, pitchforks and torches included. Remember the angry mob led by Gaston in Beauty and the Beast? It was exactly like that.

PeopleĀ  did not abide serial killers. We don’t now and we didn’t then, although in some aspects serial killers are glamorized in our society. I have never seen the show Hannibal, but I do know it’s about a guy who kills people. People talk about Ted Bundy and Charles Manson like they’re celebrities. In a way they are, but they’re bad celebrities. In some instances people even emulate their favorite serial killers, which is really weird and strange.

Getting back to the Grimms tales…there were serial killers floating around. They probably behaved in the same manner that our modern-day serial killers behave. They were probably manipulative and just the nicest people ever, or so it seemed, but the truth eventually got out. In The Robber Bridegroom the guy is such a manipulator that he convinced his fiance to come to his house in the woods, alone, which I already explained in my post about the story was a big no-no. Women were not caught alone with their men in any such manner if they expected to keep their reputation untarnished. He bullied her into it and there she went. Of course when she got there, things were awful.

The examples go on. Young women find vats full of blood and body parts. Dens of robbers and murderers prey upon young girls repeatedly in the Grimm’s fairy tales. Was this really so common? I know we like to think that the days of yore were somewhat more idyllic. People were nicer. The food was better. Everybody was happy and helpful. I’m sorry to say that this isn’t true at all. As long as we have been human, we have behaved like humans, which also means there have been those of us who behave like terrible examples of humanity. Young women being murdered by robbers and serial killers is nothing new.

This theme in the Grimms tales was reflecting society. This stuff actually happened. Maybe it didn’t happen in every village, but it happened with enough regularity in the region that these stories got around. You’re reading stories that might actually have the potential to be based fairly heavily on true stories, at least for a fairy tale. The reaction is exactly as we would expect the reaction to be.

If you suddenly found out that your neighbor had been murdering young women for years, you would be very upset. You would be upset with them, you would be upset with your other neighbors, but you would also be very upset with yourself and that’s probably what would hurt the most. Here you were living next to this neighbor for all these years and they were murdering people and you never suspected a thing. It makes you hurt because you lose some faith in yourself. Why weren’t you smart enough to know that this guy was bad news? Couldn’t you have been more observant? What about all those poor girls? Little Jessica down the street, you knew her, now she’s gone and it’s all because of the jerk next door.

The people in these stories form a mob to carry out their justice. They’re upset. They’re upset with the murderer(s), but they’re also upset with each other and themselves. As they don’t want to murder each other for being so unobservant and equally as fooled, they band together to take our their frustrations on the actual murderer(s), hopefully; we all know there are cases where the wrongly accused have been killed by mobs.

These days we have death row and prison stays for our serial killers, but it’s just not as satisfying as old-fashioned mob justice. We know that as long as that killer is alive, even if he/she is in prison there is still a chance they might get out and do it again. How will the survivors ever feel safe again? What if he/she comes back for revenge? There are disadvantages to mob justice though. People tend to lose a lot of self-thought when belonging to a mob. You tend to let decisions be made by the mob rather than thinking them through in your head. So you might end up participating in something that weighs heavily on your conscience afterwards. You know this guy was a murderer, but now you’re also a murderer, at least in part; you took part in getting rid of this scumbag, but does your part in the matter make you any better? It’s definitely a difficult place. Leave the murderer alive and leave the possibility of he/she killing again alive, but have a clear conscience, or kill the murderer yourself and live with the fact that you killed another person, even if they were terrible.

All in all, the people of the Grimms stories weren’t really a fan of leaving the murderer alive. They sharpened their pitchforks, lit their torches, got together, and killed a man.

Fitcher’s Bird

Fitcher's BirdSummary

Fitcher’s Bird is a bloody tale, so if you’re squeemish at all, you might want to skip this one.

Once upon a time there was a wizard who liked to disguise himself as a poor beggar so he could entrap young women. He carried with him a large basket. He once went to a household that had three daughters. The man begged at the door for a little food. The oldest daughter was going to give him some bread, but she had barely touched him when she was forced into the man’s basket.

He took the young woman back to her house and told her, “My darling, you will certainly be happy with me, for you have everything your heart can wish for.” After a while the man said he had to leave. He gave the girl an egg and a key. He told her she could use the key to go into any room in the house, but one specific room. He also told her to guard the egg carefully.

The young girl went into all the rooms of the house and she was going to ignore the one room in particular, but curiosity got the best of her and she opened the door with the key. Inside she saw a great vat of blood. There were pieces of people everywhere. There were legs and arms all over the place. There was a large chopping block with a great silver axe. The girl was so startled that she dropped the egg into the bloody vat. She tried to get the blood off the egg, but as soon as she wiped it off, it reappeared.

The wizard came back and he saw that the girl had been in the room. He took her into the room and chopped he head off. Then he dismembered her and tossed her into the vat with all the other bodies.

He decided his next target would be the middle sister of this family. He played the same disguise. The second daughter was deceived in the same way. He brought her back to his house and one day went on a journey. He left her with the same stipulations, but the same thing happened all over again. The second daughter ended up in the vat just like the first.

The wizard decided to go back for the third daughter, but she was a smart cookie, besides getting caught in his basket in the first place. When the wizard left on his journey, the third daughter put the egg in a safe place then she peeked inside the room. Instead of being absolutely terrified, this girl found the dismembered pieces of her sisters and set them together. Once she had them all together like a puzzle piece, they reconnected and her sisters were brought back to life. They were all happy.

The wizard came back home. He demanded the key and the egg as soon as he got back. Once he saw that the egg was not bloody, he told the third daughter that she would be his wife. She acted like she was ok with this. Once he decided to take her as his wife, he no longer had power over her. She told him to take a basket of gold to her family.

Inside the basket of gold she hid her two sisters. She gave the basket to the wizard with instructions that she was going to watch him through the window to make sure he didn’t rest on the way to her family’s house.

The basket was very heavy. After a while the wizard stopped to rest, but one of the sisters inside the basket called out to him, “I am looking through my little window, and IĀ  see that you ae resting. Will you go on at once?” He thought this was his wife-to-be saying all of this from his window, so he got a little freaked out and kept on with his journey. Every time he tried to rest, one of the sisters would call out to him to keep going.

He finally made it to the family’s house where the sisters were to bring help. In the meantime the third sister had been at the wizard’s house preparing things of her own. She prepared a feast and sent invitations to friends of the wizard. Then she found a skull which she dressed with flowers and ornaments. She set this in her window.

She then got into a barrel of honey and cut open a feather bed. She rolled all around in the feathers until she looked like a bird. She went out of the house.

Wedding guests saw he and this was what happened:

“O, Fitcher’s bird, how com’st thou here?”

“I come from Fitcher’s house quite near.”

“And what may the young bride be doing?”

“From cellar to garret she’s swept all clean,

And now from the window she’s peeping I ween.”

On he way she met the wizard, who did not recognize her. He asked her the same thing.

He happened to look up and see the skull and thought it was his bride. He smiled at her and then went into the house with all his dastardly friends. When all of the guests were in the house, the bride’s family came and barred the house. Then they set fire to it. The wizard and all of his friends died.

The End

Fitcher's BirdObservations

Well, this tale is just a bundle of sunshine isn’t it? This wizard is an outright murdering serial killer. He’s a predator and he’s awful. He’s not even a sexual predator he just likes to dismember people, which probably makes him one of the worst kind’s of predators there can be. He’s a classic predator though. He uses a disguise to entrap his victims. That’s how predators do it. They may not all dress as Barney the Purple Dinosaur or be looking for a lost puppy, but all predators have some sort of disguise. It just may not be an actual physical disguise. They might disguise their personality. They might disguise their voice. They might disguise their face or their clothes. These people never go after prey in their true states.

The egg, let’s talk about the egg. I have heard of an egg in reference to a baby in multiple instances. There are class assignments where you get an egg and have to take care of it for a certain period of time as if it were a baby. If your egg gets cracked you’re screwed. You get an F. Now, there are other more folkloric types of stories that do equate an egg for a baby. The egg symbolizes a baby. A baby is small and cannot take care of itself. In that sense it doesn’t matter if you say “egg” or “baby”.

Remember how in Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, that Jude’s first wife, well, his only wife uses an egg to trick him into some naughty things? Was it just an egg? No, it was a symbol. It was a symbol for what she was trying to trick him into. She was trying to get herself knocked up, if you know anything about the book.

This is the question you have to keep in your mind…was this really an egg or was it a baby? Hopefully, you don’t drop a baby in a bloody vat of dismembered body parts.

There is also this idea that an egg is pure in some sense. It’s this cocoon that shields the insides from the world around it, but it can still absorb the outside world.

Just to be really “out-there” interpretation…what if the egg was not an egg, but a baby that was still in its mother’s womb, the mothers being the captive girls? What if all this blood is not just blood, but also symbolizing that these women had miscarriages thus losing the trust and faith of the wizard who then killed them? You may think that’s really weird, but think about some of the crimes in history in which terrible things were done to women because they couldn’t carry a baby to term or they had a baby of the wrong sex. Just think about. Terrible things have happened to these women. For a long time and, honestly, still today, a woman’s fertility ruled her value in society. We’re supposed to be past all that bull-crap by the way, but we’re not. What if this man is finding wife after wife, but none of them are bearing him a child? Does that sound familiar? It kind of reminds me of a man named Henry VIII.

Fitcher's BirdThemes

You cannot hide from your misdeeds. Eventually you will be punished and sometimes, quite cruelly. A couple of posts ago, or so, we talked about this mob mentality that people can have. We talked about the people in The Robber Bridegroom who put the smack-down on the would-be groom and his den of murdering thieves. These were average people, but when you messed with one of their own, they turned on you and they weren’t nice about it. That’s what happens in this story.

We discussed the idea that people hate that you committed a crime under their nose. They hate it. They will not be kind to you if they get a chance to take you down. You have no only harmed someone they know, you have made them doubt themselves. How could this terrible thing be going on right next door and no one have any idea about it? People get mad. They get angry. You hurt little Susie and you made them lose faith in themselves. You’ve just screwed everybody over. You have doubly offended them.

Because you have doubly offended these people they aren’t going to read you your Miranda rights and use their tax dollars to give you nice stay in prison. No. They are going to flay your skin off while you’re still alive. They going to burn you with cigarettes. They’re going to Chinese water torture you and other terrible things. Remember that awful machine from The Princess Bride? They’re going to use that on you.

The way they see it, you gave up your chance for any kind of civil punishment not when you abducted the three young women, but when you abducted the three young women under their noses. Making a person doubt themselves in a huge crime, psychologically. In logical terms, it’s not as bad as abducting three young women, but you’re throwing all logic out the window if you decided to do something terrible like that in the first place.

One more thing, sometimes when you do something bad, you bring your own punishment. This man carries his punishment on his back. He carries it and it’s heavy. There are a lot of criminals who tell on themselves. They may not do it intentionally, but it’s often the case.


This story is gross. I am not a bloody-gore person at all. You guys can go watch your splatter-porn all you want to, but I’m going to stick to British television and Spongebob Squarepants. My goodness, there were some really disgusting tales floating around back in the day. This reminds me of the version of Red Riding Hood from the eighties. It’s quite bloody.

P.S. is Fitcher the wizard?