A detailed examination of the Grimms' version of 'Maid Maleen', a dark and serious tale of loss and abandonment which, with its threatened prince and active princess, frequently undercuts the accumulated cliches of the fairy tale while reminding us that those stereotypes are not as common as the general reader often assumes.
"Maid Maleen (Kinder- und Hausmärchen, tale 198) isn’t particularly popular as fairy tales go. It was first published as Jungfer Maleen by Karl Müllenhoff in a collection called Sagen, Märchen und Lieder der Herzoghümer Schleswig, Holstein und Lauenburg (1845), from whence the Grimms borrowed it for the 1850 edition of their Kinder- und Hausmarchen. I don’t know whether Müllenhoff wrote it down verbatim from some oral source: he may have touched it up, but the Grimms made several slight but significant changes to his version, transforming it into a fairy story that delves unusually deeply into the trauma caused by abandonment and suffering. Here is a brief account of their version: Maid Maleen, whose heart is already set on another prince, refuses to marry the suitor her father the king has chosen for her. To punish her, the king orders a dark tower to be built. Provisioning it for seven years, he seals his daughter and her maid up inside it, cutting them off from light..."