Goose Girl

The Goose Girl is a well-known fairy tale written by brothers Grimm with a lot of variations. The story starts with princes who left her home with a maiden. On the way to another kingdom, the maiden forces the princess to switch positions. Thus the real princess comes to the castle of her future husband in the role of a servant.


When they reach their destination the maiden introduces herself as a  princess and arranges the real princess becomes a goose girl. The prince doesn't notice anything, but the king suspects something fishy is going on and tries to find out from goose girl what is her secret.


Unfortunately, the goose girl (real princess) refuses to say what happened because she gave her word to the princess (real maiden). The fact she showed so many weaknesses on the way, doesn't play in her favor either.)


King asks her to tell the truth to the iron stove and secretly listens to the story, then at dinner asks the fake princess what would she do to a servant who betrayed her master. Princess (real maiden) suggests cruel punishment not knowing she is going to be punished. The story ends with her death.


The Goose Girl by Henry Justice Ford


As you may expect here comes some of my thoughts. Why is The Goose Girl so typical Grimm’s fairy tale?


1. It is based on the importance of a given word. It doesn't matter the word was given to a member of a lower class and villain. Princess should stand by her promise. If she would not keep her promise, she would not be any more entitled to her noble class. Something similar we can find in The Frog Prince (The Frog King).


2. Princess must fail to earn her position again. This sort of transformation is almost a must in fairy tales, where a beggar can become a prince, but in many cases, a prince (or a princess) must become a beggar (or a swineherd or a goose girl) before to earn his noble title again. Such a plot in story writing is one of the basic plots. Giambattista Basile incorporated it in his Pentamerone so masterfully it became kind of standard for centuries.


3. The villain is severely punished. In Goose Girl, the maiden declares herself to a cruel death. We can find cruel punishment in many of Grimm’s fairy tales, like Cinderella, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel… I guess they believed every resistance to ‘natural order’ deserves the ultimate punishment.


A detailed post on fairy tale The Goose Girl can be read here: