Dark woods, golden hair


He is a particularly significant fruit: A poisoned pear or plum would be difficult to imagine in "Snow White". The queen needs three attempts to effectively poison her stepdaughter. The apple stands for the realization. Snow White, however, does not recognize anything - and bites into it. Nevertheless, the story ends well. Because after the bite in the poisoned apple she is bedded in a glass coffin. Because of her beauty, the prince will notice her - if Snow White had just greeted the window friendly, he might have ridden past.

Dark forest

Should not be interpreted primarily psychoanalytically, as often happens. The forest used to be what a village was surrounded with. Outlaws hid there, or even women who had been cast out because of a dishonorable pregnancy.

You have to go through the forest if you want to go somewhere. Danger lurk in him, for example wild animals. But there are also hermits and wise women living there, who provide valuable help to those who pass through: the forest is not only a place of horror, but an ambiguous symbol.


Spinning is one of the modest chores, the spindle therefore a symbol of virtue. The king in "Sleeping Beauty" orders to burn all the spindles. With this command, he tries to ban the danger itself, which of course does not work, especially since the spindle stands for something good. It would have been better to enlighten the daughter. Spindles were found in all households. If the princess steps out of clumsiness (and falls into the familiar deep sleep), it also means that practical skill is very important to a woman.

Well / water

The fountain represents the link between the upper and lower world. Goldmarie and Pechmarie only pass through a well to Frau Holle, a mythical figure. One should not imagine the well, as in most pictorial representations, bricked:

In the "Frog King" he is more of a water hole, so the ball of the king's daughter so easily rolls into it. This is closely connected with the fountain symbol waterthat counts as a life-giver. There was also the old superstitious notion that children come from the well. Water can also be deadly in its destructive power. As a symbol it is therefore ambivalent.

Long hair

There is life force and wisdom in the hair. This symbol was also used in mythology. In addition, long hair is a symbol of inner beauty.


A picture of unity, of the power - even magic - emanates.


He symbolizes effort. A glass mountain is unclimifiable, you need a magic device to conquer it. The mountain often plays a role in depictions that show something very typical for fairy tales: the self-evident miracle.

The hero is always helped, he never wonders about the help, and it is never enough to harm him. Often a treasure is hidden in the mountain, and those who take too much risk being stuck or not getting any further. One lesson for the reader is the use of this symbol.

Number "Seven"

The seven is an ambivalent number, it can not be defined in their meaning. Often it represents a perfect whole: the seven dwarfs or the seven Swabians form a 'round' crowd. "Seven at a stroke" creates the crafty little tailor; With the seven-league boots, the hero quickly reaches his destination.

But there are also negative meanings. The "evil seven" is a standing idiom in the literature, in the Bible there are the seven deadly sins. Frequently, the seven is used to represent a time span: a figure travels seven days and seven nights, and the devil pact is usually redeemed after seven years.

Number "three"

The three has crucial importance for human thinking, action and feeling. It is characteristic of folk literature. In the fairy tale that's why she often happens: Three times, for example, when "Ilse Bilse" the fish caught, sisters are usually three, and increases always succeeds the third attempt.

Kathrin Pöge-Alder, 39, doctor of German Studies, teaches in Jena at the Institute of Folklore. She is co-author of the "encyclopedia of the fairy tale" and published in 2000 a narrative lexicon.

The Deep Dark Woods @ The Dakota Tavern (June 2021).