The Frog Prince

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The Frog Prince by Paul Friedrich Meyerheim (1889)
The frog asks to be allowed to come into the castle - Illustration for "The Frog Prince" by Walter Crane 1874
Arthur Rackham's illustration to the fairy tale of the Brothers Grimm The Frog Prince

"The Frog Prince; or, Iron Henry" (German: Der Froschkönig oder der eiserne Heinrich, literally "The Frog King; or, The Iron Heinrich") is a fairy tale, best known through the Brothers Grimm's written version; traditionally it is the first story in their collection. The 2009 Disney film, The Princess and the Frog, is loosely based on this story.


In the tale, a spoiled princess reluctantly befriends the Frog Prince (meeting him after dropping a gold ball into a pond), who magically transforms into a handsome prince. Although in modern versions the transformation is invariably triggered by the princess kissing the frog, in the original Grimm version of the story the frog's spell was broken when the princess threw it against a wall in disgust.[1]

In other early versions it was sufficient for the frog to spend the night on the princess's pillow.

A Russian folk version "Tsarevna Lyagushka" (The Frog Princess) has the male and female roles reversed: the male prince Ivan Tsarevich discovers the enchanted female frog who becomes Vasilisa the Wise, a female sorceress.

Similar folktales[edit]

It is Aarne-Thompson type 440.[2] Other folktales similar to the Frog Prince are:

  1. "The Frog Prince". The first English translation of the above tale. Edgar Taylor, the translator, not only changed the title, but altered the ending in a substantial and interesting manner.
  2. "The Wonderful Frog" (W. Henry Jones and Lewis L. Kropf, Hungary).
  3. "The Tale of the Queen Who Sought a Drink From a Certain Well" (J. F. Campbell, Scotland).
  4. "The Well of the World's End"
  5. "The Paddo" (Robert Chambers, Scotland).
  6. "The Maiden and the Frog" (James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, England).
  7. "The Kind Stepdaughter and the Frog" (W. Henry Jones and Lewis L. Kropf, England).
  8. "The Frog Prince" (H. Parker, Sri Lanka).
  9. "A Frog for a Husband" (William Elliot Griffis, Korea).
  10. "The Toad Bridegroom" (Zong In-Sob, Korea).

The story in popular culture[edit]

A popular phrase related to this story is, "You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince." It is used to encourage those who seek true love. Heiner states that it is unclear when this element was added to the story. Maria Tatar's The Annotated Brothers Grimm merely attributes it to "modern versions of the story", without becoming more specific. Also, the Frog Prince is the true identity of King Harold in the films Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third.

Modern interpretations[edit]

  • Mickey's Young Readers Library featured a version titled Donald and the Frog. In this adaptation, Donald Duck loses one of his oars during a rowboat race and promises to give his trophy to a frog who retrieves it for him.
  • A Muppet version of the tale aired as a television special in 1971. but with a different plot.
  • The Frog Prince was one of the fairy tales featured in Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics under its Grimm Masterpiece Theater season.
  • In the second episode of Adventures from the Book of Virtues, Plato the Bison and Annie try to convince their friend Zach to tell his father the truth by telling him three stories, including one about “The Frog Prince.” In this version, the title character was transformed into a frog for lying to a witch and breaking his promise. He is voiced by Jeff Bennett.
  • 'The Tale of the Frog Prince' was the first story presented by Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre in 1982, with Robin Williams as the witty Frog and Teri Garr as the vain princess.
  • Many retellings try to soften the princess's character. Many film adaptions create two female leads, such as the Cannon Movie Tales film version The Frog Prince (1986) starring Aileen Quinn, Helen Hunt and John Paragon.[3]
  • The 1993 video game Superfrog is based on the Frog Prince story, to the point of the main character being a prince transformed into a frog.
  • The Marillion song "Script for a Jester's Tear", from their 1983 debut album, includes the lyric "as you grow up and leave the playground where you kissed your prince and found your frog", which is a reference to this tale.
  • Peter Gabriel's song "Kiss That Frog", from his 1992 album Us, is a reference to The Frog Prince, mentioning him returning the princess's golden ball and turning him into a prince with a kiss.
  • The E.D. Baker novel The Frog Princess (2002) gives a twist to the traditional tale by transforming the heroine into a frog when she kisses the frog prince - the Walt Disney Pictures animated film The Princess and the Frog (2009) is inspired by this version of the story.
  • The Exiled Prince, the second installment in the Dark Parables franchise, released on February 25, 2011, is based upon The Frog Prince fable. Set in Black Forest, Germany, the player as The Detective is sent to investigate the tale of The Frog Prince after the disappearance of the chancellor's daughter. It is revealed the fabled prince is still alive, cursed with Immortality, and now roams the deserted path in the forest, capturing unsuspecting visitors trying to find a solution to his curse.
  • The King from Shrek 2 [3] (2004) has an origin based on the Frog Prince story, as does Flycatcher from Fables.
  • A musical version of The Frog Prince, written by Dieter Stegmann and Alexander S. Bermange was presented at the Amphitheater Park Schloss Philippsruhe, Hanau, Germany as part of the Brothers Grimm Festival in 2005.
  • A chamber opera for children based upon The Frog Prince was recently written by Jacob A. Greenberg for Brown Opera Productions and the Providence Athenaeum.
  • Jean Johnson in her Bedtime Stories (a collection of erotic fairy tales) retells the story of Princess Gisette, who accidentally dropped her golden dildo into a muddy river, and the enchanted frog Prince Henrik, who offers her help with retrieving it in exchange for her helping him break his enchantement by allowing him to bring her to a climax. In the end, the fairy who enchanted him appears and he learns that he had misinterpreted the words of the curse, meaning that a mere kiss would break the spell.[4]
  • Auburn and the Frog Prince, an American animated film whose production has been shelved, is loosely based upon the tale.[5] The Production Studio who created the story uses a Frog Prince as their logo, as the feature was one of their first original endeavors.
  • In the book Witches Abroad from Terry Pratchett an evil fairy godmother, Lilith, turns a frog into a puppet prince that she can use to control the city of Genua.
  • Anne Sexton wrote an adaptation as a poem called "The Frog Prince" in her collection Transformations (1971), a book in which she re-envisions sixteen of the Grimm's Fairy tales.[6]

See also[edit]



External links[edit]