The enduring tale of good versus evil
“Hansel and Gretel” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, is a classic story detailing the enduring struggle between good and evil. The story actually details how the struggle between good and evil is a continuous battle that in the end usually ends in favor of good. Throughout the story, the trials Hansel and his sister Gretel go through, denote the battles of good versus evil. Overall, it is fair to say that the overriding theme in Hansel and Gretel is the fact that good always triumphs over evil.
The very first highlight of the good versus evil battle comes at the very beginning of the story, when the woodcutter’s wife succeeds in convincing Hansel and Gretel’s father, that they should put their selfish needs before those of his own children and leave them in the woods. Indeed, even though her plot to get rid of the children once and for all does not succeed, the fact that she is able to convince the wood cutter to abandon his own children in the woods, can be taken to represent a victory for evil. The fact that the children are able to find their way back home after being abandoned in the woods, due to Hansel’s quick thinking, represents a victory for good.
The step mother gets her way a second time, as she convinces the woodcutter to once again abandon his only two children in the woods; one of the most significant twists in this enduring tale of good versus evil, made even more significant by the fact that the children are this time around unable to find their way back home. As a result of trying to do so, they even get more lost in the woods. In the battle of good versus evil, this represents a major victory.
Another significant scene in the story is when the two children stumble upon a house that actually turns out to be the house of a witch. The difficulties experienced by chief protagonists in the story, become even more complicated when Hansel is tricked and captured by the witch, while Gretel is essentially turned into a slave, representing another significant victory for evil. , the tale does take the expected turn when Gretel successfully eliminates the evil represented by the witch, by pushing her into the oven, right before she can eat the two of them. Further, to top it all off, the two children are not only able to find their way back home with pearls and precious stones, but they also get back home to find that one of the chief antagonists in the story; their step mother is long dead, which means they can enjoy a happy life together with their father. These final occurrences, mark with finality the triumph of good versus evil, as both antagonists die towards the end of the story, leaving the protagonists to live happily ever after.
Similarly, the enduring tale of good versus evil can also be seen in Charles Perrault’s “Little Red Riding Hood”, although unlike in “Hansel and Gretel” the ending is not in favor of good. The first victory for good is seen when the wolf is unable to eat the little girl while on her way to grandmother’s house due to the woodcutters who were working in the forest. , the treachery that typically accompanies evil, as already seen in “Hansel and Gretel”, can also be seen when the wolf succeeds in obtaining information as to the little girl’s destination.
The wolf then proceeds to the grandmother’s house, before deceiving her into letting it in. Once inside, the wolf actually devours the little girls grandmother, taking her place to wait for little red riding hood. This represents a significant victory for evil, made even more sickening by the fact that the wolf is able to repeat the fete, devouring little red riding hood at the end of the story, after pretending to be her grandmother.
In a way, these two stories provide contrasting endings to the battle between good and evil, whereas in the first story, good triumphs over evil, in the second story, the converse is true, as the protagonist in the story is actually eaten up by the antagonist. , the enduring struggle between good and evil similar to a number of other themes is evident within both stories. Whereas good is portrayed as innocent and trusting in the characters of little red riding hood, as well as the siblings Hansel and Gretel, evil is portrayed as treacherous and greedy in the characters of the wolf, the witch and the step mother. In both stories despite their differing ends, the enduring struggle between good and evil is unmistakable. The characters and the roles they play are representative of this struggle.