Wicked Wednesdays: Hansel and Gretal

This series features books that have been banned or challenged in the U.S., with everything from fairy tales to classics, to the dictionary (yep, you read that correctly).

The newest face of the witch burning siblings

So, Hansel and Gretal.  Basically, we all know the story, right? (Spoilers ahead for those who don’t)

There are a lot of variations on this, but the basic story is their stepmother or father takes them out into the middle of the woods and leaves them there. Hansel had left a trail of breadcrumbs behind him so they could find their way back to the house, but the birds ate the trail and they became lost. While wandering in the woods, they find a house made of candy and a woman inviting them in, telling them they can eat all the sweets they like. (Note to self: don’t take candy from strangers). The kids eat themselves sick on candy, so sick that they can’t fight the woman who puts them in a cage and then forces them to eat more food to fatten them up, because, you know, she’s really a witch and that’s what witches do, apparently.

Long story short, Gretal saves her brother by tricking the witch and pushing her into her own oven where she promptly burns to death.

I can’t say this was my favorite childhood story at the time, because something about burning a person didn’t sit right with me (Grimm’s Fairytales was banned in the U.S. for a period of time for such violence). However, I have to appreciate the girl-saves-guy element in this story, which is pretty rare in the classics.

However, even though thisclassic was eventually un-banned, in 1992, it was challenged again in the Mount Diablo school district.  A pair of self-proclaimed witches said it wasn’t suitable for children because it painted witches in a bad light, and made children think it was okay to burn them. I wondered what they thought about Macbeth. 


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