Gretel – Summary | The Heritage of Words

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GretelUnit Eight : Playing With Text
Gretel – Garrison Keillor
The Heritage of Words

‘Gretel’ by Garrison Keillor is an interpretation of the story “Hansel and Gretel” from the perspective of a female. The interpreter is Gretel who denies her cowardice in the original story. She claims that the depiction is distorted one. Gretel says that there was an understanding between her and her brother to sell their story to Grimm brothers. They had signed in a contract paper with an agreement to share fifty-fifty of the profit. But unexpectedly, Gretel found the story published the other day totally different order.

The story depicts her as coward and her brother as a brave person. She claims the brother was, in reality, a coward not vice versa. It was her brother who wept time and again, and she had to carry him. The portrayal of he father and mother is also distorted. Father was not so kind hearted; he was a drunkard; he liked to watch bull fight. Mother was not cruel in any sense of the word. Gretel describes their parents leaving them in the forest as a natural phenomenon of the time. Parents used to leave the children in forest hoping that they will be better cared in forest by frog, raven or saints. She claims that she was not worried when she in the forest, as she had known the reality. At last, she repents for killing the witch, for the witch was not after her; she had wanted to kill Hansel.

Gretel supports her stepmother Gladys and finds her a loving mother. She explains that the woman who gave them cake, bread and house was not a witch but a loving woman who wanted to kill Hansel in order to revolt against male dominance.

Questions for Practice :

  1. Why does Gretel blame her father and brother?
  2. Do you think Gretel represents modern feminist women? Give your opinion briefly.

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