"Rumpelstiltskin" (German: "Rumpelstilzchen"; also published in English as "Rumpel-Stilts-Kin" and "Rumpel-Stilts-Ken") is a German fairy tale. It is included in Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), the 1812 anthology of German folktales compiled by the Brothers Grimm. Similar stories exist in the folklore of the British Isles, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Iceland, Russia, Slovakia, Arabia, Japan and Latin America.
The plot of "Rumpelstiltskin" is set in motion when a man falsely boasts that his clever daughter is able to use a spinning wheel to change straw into gold. The king hears this and orders the young woman to spin straw into gold for him. The story's title character, a mysterious little man with supernatural powers, comes to the young woman's aid. He agrees to spin straw into gold for her on the condition that she gives him her first born child.
There have been many adaptations of the "Rumpelstiltskin" story to other media. The tale and its title character are often referenced in popular culture.
A miller has a meeting with the king. The miller falsely brags that his daughter is so clever that she is able to spin straw into gold. The king has the young woman brought to his castle. He leaves her in a room with a spinning wheel and a large amount of straw. He orders her to turn all of the straw into gold by the following morning on pain of death. A little man appears. He tells the miller's daughter that he will change all of the straw into gold in exchange for her necklace.
Although the king is pleased to see all of the straw changed into gold, he decides that he wants more. He leaves the miller's daughter in a larger room in which there is a spinning wheel and even more straw. As before, the king orders the miller's daughter to turn all of the straw into gold. The little man once again comes to the aid of the miller's daughter. He agrees to change all of the straw into gold for her in exchange for her ring.
The king orders the miller's daughter to change yet more straw into gold for him. He tells her that if she succeeds this time, he will marry her and make her his queen. The little man once again appears and offers to change all of the straw into gold for the miller's daughter again. This time, however, the miller's daughter has no objects of any material value to give him in return. The little man says that he will do the work if the miller's daughter agrees to give him her first born child. She agrees to this bargain.
The miller's daughter marries the king and becomes the queen. A year passes. She gives birth to a son and forgets all about the little man. Then the little man suddenly appears. He tells the queen to give him the child that she promised him. The queen begs the little man not to take her son. Seeing how distressed the queen is, the little man feels sorry for her. He makes another bargain with the queen. If she can guess his name within three days, he will not take her child.
The little man returns the following day and asks the queen if she can name him. The queen says all of the names that she knows. Each time, however, the little man responds, "That's not my name." The queen sends out a servant to ask people who live nearby what their names are in order to compile a list of more unusual names. The servant returns with a long list of unusual names. When the little man returns, he tells the queen that his name is not one of those on the list.
The queen sends out the servant again to compile another list of unusual names. At the edge of the forest, the servant sees a little man dancing around a fire and singing that a child will be given to him because the queen will never guess that his name is Rumpelstiltskin. The servant tells the queen what he saw and heard.
When the little man returns, the queen first puts two common names to him and asks him if those names are his. She then asks him if his name is Rumpelstiltskin. The little man angrily shouts, "The Devil told you that!" In his anger, he stamps his right foot so hard that it sinks into the floor. He then grabs his left foot with both hands and tears himself in two.
Works of modern literature inspired by the "Rumpelstiltskin" story include a poem called "Rumpelstiltskin" by the American writer Anne Sexton that is included in the 1971 anthology Transformations, the 1988 novel Sleeping in Flame by the American writer Jonathan Carroll, the 1988 short story "Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter" by the American writer Diane Stanley, the 2006 novel A Curse Dark as Gold by the American writer Elizabeth C. Bunce, the 2012 novel Curses by the American writer J.A. Kazimer, the 2014 short story "Rampasatusan: A Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin" by the New Zealand author Shelley Chappell, the 2015 novel The Good, the Bad and the Smug by the British writer Tom Holt and the short story "Little Man" by the American writer Michael Cunningham that is included in the 2015 anthology A Wild Swan and Other Tales.
Live-action films based on "Rumpelstiltskin" include a 1915 American silent movie, a 1940 Nazi German propaganda film, a 1955 West German film, a 1987 American-Israeli musical that was released as part of the Canon Movie Tales series and a 1995 American comedy horror B movie. Rumpelstiltskin is the main antagonist in the 2015 direct-to-video American fantasy adventure film Avengers Grimm, in which he battles against Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel. Rumpelstiltskin also appears as a character in the 2006 German comedy film 7 Dwarves: The Forest is Not Enough (German: 7 Zwerge: Der Wald ist nich genug).
Rumpelstiltskin appears in the 2007 American animated film Shrek the Third and serves as the main antagonist in its 2010 sequel Shrek Forever After. The character of Rumpelstiltskin also appears as one of the villains in the 2007 German-American animated film Happily N'Ever After.
The second episode of the American TV series Shirley Temple's Storybook is an adaptation of "Rumpelstiltskin". The episode first aired on NBC on February 2, 1958. "Rumpelstiltskin" was adapted as the second episode of the American TV series Faerie Tale Theatre. The episode was first shown on the Showtime channel on October 16, 1982. It stars Hervé Villechaize, the French-born dwarf actor of Filipino descent, as Rumpelstiltskin. A version of "Rumpelstiltskin" is told by comedian and actor Rik Mayall in the ninth episode of the first season of the British children's TV series Grim Tales. The episode was first broadcast on the ITV network in the United Kingdom on June 9, 1989.
The twenty-first episode of the second season of the Japanese anime series Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics (Japanese: グリム名作劇場; Gurimu Meisaku Gekijō) is an adaptation of "Rumpelstiltskin". The episode was first shown on TV Asahi in Japan on March 12, 1989. The fifth episode of the American animated TV series Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child is an adaptation of "Rumpelstiltskin". The episode, which first aired on HBO on April 9, 1995, gives the story a Caribbean setting and has a predominantly African-American voice cast. It features the voices of Jasmine Guy as the miller's daughter, Denzel Washington as the king and Robert Townsend as Rumpelstiltskin. The eleventh episode of the Austrian-German animated TV series Simsala Grimm is an adaptation of "Rumpelstiltskin". The episode originally aired on the German channel Kinderkanal on November 15, 1999.
"Nameless", the sixteenth episode of the American supernatural drama series Grimm, was inspired by "Rumpelstiltskin". The episode first aired on NBC on March 29, 2013.
Rumpelstiltskin (played by the Scottish actor Robert Carlyle) is a recurring character in the American fantasy drama series Once Upon a Time, which has been airing on ABC since October 23, 2011. In the series, Rumpelstiltskin, who is also known by the names Mr. Gold and Detective Weaver, takes on the role of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast and is revealed to have been Cinderella's fairy godmother and to be the son of Peter Pan.
- ↑ The German name Rumpelstilzchen literally means "little pole rattler". A game called Rumpel stilt, in which children rattle the posts that support houses, is referred to in the 1577 work Geschictkitterung by the German satirist Johann Fischart. In later writings, Rumpelstilt or Rumpelstiltz is used to refer to a kind of mischievous goblin which rattles poles that support houses, somewhat like a poltergeist.
- ↑ The character of the servant that the queen sends out in order to find out the little man's name is not in the version of "Rumpelstiltskin" from the 1812 first edition of the Brothers Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales). The character was added for the version of the story in the 1819 second edition of the book.
- ↑ In the version of "Rumpelstiltskin" in the 1812 first edition of the Brothers Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), the king goes out hunting. He happens to see the little man dancing and hear him sing that the queen will never guess that his name is Rumpelstiltskin. The king later tells his wife about this strange incident.
- ↑ The ending in which Rumpelstiltskin commits suicide in a bizarre way first appeared in the second edition of the Brothers Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales) from 1819. The version of the story from the 1812 first edition of the book simply ends with Rumpelstiltskin running away and never bothering the queen again. The violent ending that the Brothers Grimm gave the story was greatly toned down in the English translation by Edgar Taylor, first published in the 1876 book Grimm's Goblins and later adapted by Marian Edwardes for the 1912 book Grimm's Household Tales. In Taylor's translation, Rumpelstiltskin's foot gets stuck in the floor because of how hard he stamps it in his anger. He manages to pull his foot out, however, and walks away while the entire royal court laughs at him.