The Grimm Brothers
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Before the majority of the population was literate, Fairy Tales were told orally and passed down in this way through generations. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm decided to collect these stories and publish them as a collection in one book. Some of these stories are well-known, even today. They include Cinderella, The Frog Prince, and Snow White. All of these stories have been adapted from their original written story into a Disney Animated Feature. However, each story has a significantly different ending from the original work.

Disney's Adapted Works from Grimm's Fairy Tales...

Disney's "Snow White" & Grimm's Little Snow-White

Disney's Snow White in her glass casket
German Stamp

For example, in the Grimm’s version of Little Snow White, the princess is not awakened by a kiss from her prince, and her evil stepmother is not slain by him either, as seen in the Classic Disney Animated Film. The Grimm’s Snow-White is awakened when the prince lifts her coffin to carry it away, and “the piece of apple fell from between her lips”. She awakens and sees the prince, and then agrees to marry him after returning to his castle. Her stepmother is invited to a wedding, and when she arrives to find out it’s Snow-White’s wedding (whom she has long since thought dead) she “choked with passion, and fell ill and died”(30). While the movie adapters at Disney decided for a more dramatic, heroic, and romantic ending by having the prince slay the stepmother in her dragon form, the original tale’s ending is clearly less than dramatic.

Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" & Grimm's The Frog Prince

Disney's "The Princess and the Frog"


Another curious example is the tale of The Frog Prince. The differences between the Disney version and the Grimm version are so severe it is difficult to relate them at all, save for the common theme of the prince being turned into a frog. In the Disney version, both the princess and the price spend the majority of the film as frogs and grow attached to each other while on their adventures and eventually kiss and turn human and marry. The Grimm’s version, however involves no kissing at all! In fact, the ending of the Grimm’s tale has more violence. The young princess is obligated to a frog she met while playing at her favorite pond. She is sickened by the amphibian in her room, and actually “threw him with all her strength against the wall, saying ‘Now will you be quiet you ugly Frog!’”(97). He then transforms into a prince, “who after a little while became her dear companion and betrothed”(97).


Disney's "Cinderella" & Grimm's Cinderella

Play Adaptation of Grimm's Cinderella

Disney's Cinderella

There are literal violent differences in endings between Disney’s Cinderella and Grimm’s Cinderella. In the
Disney film, Cinderella leaves a glass shoe as a clue to her true identity. The prince searches all over the kingdom and ends up at the correct house, but Cinderella is locked up and her evil stepsisters attempt to make the petite show fit their big ugly feet. They cannot accomplish this, and once Cinderella is rescued from her locked tower, she tries on the shoe and leaves with the prince to be married. The Grimm’s tale, however, shows more desperation in part of the stepsisters, because one of them cuts off her toes to fit inside the mysterious golden slipper. The prince actually falls for this and marries her, but her plan is exposed by the blood pouring from her foot and a talking dove warning the prince of his mistake. The second sister then has her mother “[squeeze] it in till the blood came”(63). This also gives her away as well as the dove’s warning. Finally, Cinderella gets her shot and of course the shoe fits and she takes off with the prince to live happily ever after.

Significance of Adaptation Changes from Grimm to Disney...


The changes to the ends of all of these stories are significant. The original stories were meant to teach a lesson or emphasize a positive character trait.

For example, Little Snow White emphasized the danger of vanity. The queen is obsessed with her looks, and tries to punish Snow-White for competing with that. The original tale does a better job of emphasizing this because it’s focus does not rely on the prince to help Snow-White out of her coma. It is by accident that she recovers in the original tale, where as the Disney version requires an intervention on the part of the prince. The Disney version emphasizes that love conquers all, and is therefore creates an ending children can easily relate to when watching it. The original version, however, does not explicitly state that vanity is bad. It probably would have been explained by the parent telling the story to the child.

The emphasized character trait in The Frog Prince is that one should always stick to your promises, and you will be rewarded. The little princess is forced by her father to keep to her promise of allowing the frog as a companion, and in the end she was rewarded with a handsome husband. But she falls in love and kisses him after he has changed back to a human. While Disney’s version ends with love as the resolution to life’s conflicts, up to and including being turned into a frog by a voodoo man, the Grimm’s story clearly focuses on the moral of keeping one’s promises. The original story’s ending is more significant because it shows that even if you don’t want to stick to your promises, doing so will help you become a better person and life will reward you for it. Again, the Disney’s ending is changed so that a child may better connect to the story. Love is an easy concept for children to grasp, whereas the idea of sticking true to your word is a little above their heads.

Lastly, the Disney version of Cinderella teaches that even if you are of low standing socially or economically, you will find true love anyway, even if you have evil stepsisters get in your way. The Grimm’s version, however, focuses on the idea that the desire for power and wealth is dangerous. For example, the sisters want so badly to be royalty that they disfigure themselves in order to trick the prince. While this works temporarily, Cinderella is the one who is rewarded with the marriage to her prince because she was not actively seeking the power of the throne.

In conclusion, it’s clear that the endings to the original tales hold a deeper and more meaningful lesson to be learned, where are the Disney animated adapted versions use the concept of “love conquers all” as an ending in a attempt to appease audiences full of young children.


Movie released in 2005

There were also a film and a TV series made about the brothers themselves, an adaptation of the story of their actual lives as they collected their stories.
TV series 2011

Works Cited
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, The Grimm's Fairy Stories. Free Kindle e-book.