Clever Hans (fairy tale)

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"Clever Hans" (German "Der gescheite Hans") is a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm about a boy who ruins his engagement with a girl through a variety of comedic events. The title is claimed by most people to be ironic.

Plot summary[edit]

A boy named Hans has a conversation with his mother every morning (in the morning conversations he simply is telling her he is going to meet his fiancee Gretel) and evening (in which his mother reprimands him for mishandling a gift from his fiancee). Every morning when Hans meets Gretel he asks her for a gift. In order, she gives him:

In each instance, Hans mishandles the gifts. He sticks the needle in some hay but his mother tells him he should have stuck it through his sleeve. So he puts the knife in his sleeve but is told he should have put it in his pocket. He puts the goat in his pocket, thus smothering it, and is told he should have led it by a rope. He tries to lead the ham by a rope, and dogs steal it, his mother telling him he should have carried it on his head (or, in some versions, under his arm). He carries the calf this way but it kicks him until he drops it and it runs away. He is told he should have tied it in the stable. He ties Gretel in the stable and the story ends when he misunderstands his mother's advice ("Cast your adoring eyes at her") and gouges out the eyes of the livestock he owns to throw at Gretel.

The result is a disengagement, portrayed in the final sentence: "And that's how Hans lost his bride."