The Iron Stove

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The Iron Stove is a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, as tale number 127. It is Aarne–Thompson type 425A, the animal bridegroom.

Synopsis[edit]

A prince is cursed by a witch and imprisoned in an iron stove in the woods. A lost princess finds the stove and is surprised to find it talking to her, offering to help her find her way back home, provided she return to the woods with a knife to scrape a hole in the stove, thereby freeing the prince, and marry him.

Her father the King, not wanting to give up his only child to a stove in the woods, tries to send substitutes back to the woods including a miller's daughter and a pig-herd's daughter. Although very beautiful, the women betray their origins, and the princess herself reluctantly returns to the woods. When she scrapes with the knife to make a hole, she sees that the prince is very handsome. He wants to take her to his own country, but she wishes to first bid her father farewell. He agrees, but tells her to speak no more than three words. She fails this prohibition, and can not find the iron stove.

In the woods, she finds a cottage full of toads and frogs. They give her shelter for the night, tell her how to find the prince—by climbing a high glass mountain, and crossing three piercing swords and a great lake—and give her gifts—three large needles, a plough-wheel, and three nuts. She uses the needles to climb the glass mountain and rolls over the swords on the plough-wheel.

She comes upon a castle where the prince is to be married, as he believes her to have died, and takes a job as a maid. One night she cracks nut and finds inside it a dress. She finds that each nut holds a dress and each dress is more beautiful than the last. The prince's bride asks to buy the first dress, but instead the princess offers a trade. In exchange for the dress, she will be allowed to spend one night in the prince's room. That night the bride gives the prince a sleeping drink so that he sleeps through the night and the princess cannot reveal to him who she is. She weeps and the servants overhear. The second night the princess makes the same bargain with the bride but again the bride gives the prince a sleeping drink so that he sleeps through the night. As the princess weeps, the servants again hear. On the third night the princess trades the last dress for a chance to spend the night in the prince's room. Again the bride gives the prince a sleeping drink but this time the servants have told the prince of the princess' sorrowful pleas, and he does not drink. When the princess begins to weep, he reveals that he is awake and knows that she isn't dead and is his true love.

They steal the bride's clothing so she could not get up and flee, using the ploughwheel and the needles to get back to the cottage of toads and frogs, but when they arrive, it becomes a castle, and the frogs and toads, which were the children of kings, are all transformed back into their true forms. They marry and live there for many years, are reconciled with the princess's father and unite their kingdoms into one.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The Iron Stove is featured in Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics, but has many changes. The prince's bride doesn't exist, and instead the very beautiful witch (who resembles a succubus rather than a traditional witch) is the princess' rival for him. The prince is put in a trance rather than to sleep, and the princess breaks said trance by going through a thorned hedge, crossing a lake without a boat, tricking guards with a nut that contains diamonds, refusing to believe that the prince would choose the witch over him even when the witch taunts her about it, and finally by openly telling him that she loves him. When the prince is disenchanted, she jumps off from a huge flight of stairs towards him; her love for him creates protective shields that let her reach him, and then deflect the witch's attacks and cause her death.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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