Study Guide

Grimms' Fairy Tales Coming of Age

By Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Coming of Age

Nobody starts out life a hero. Many of the Grimms' Fairy Tales show us young 'uns who grow up and come into their own over the course of the story itself. By being bright or beautiful, or sometimes just adorably naïve, these kids attract the attention of people who help them out and give them gifts. Slowly but surely, the protagonists attain maturity, and usually a spouse and wealth while they're at it. Because nothing says "Look Ma, I'm all grown up!" like marrying a prince or princess.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. Why is growing up such a big deal in these tales?
  2. How do protagonists demonstrate their maturity?
  3. Big girls don't cry…except when they do. How do sorrow and suffering indicate where a character is on the road to adulthood?
  4. Hello, hormones. Why does all the bad stuff (getting locked up in a tower, falling asleep for a century, and so on) happen to girls just as they're entering adolescence?

Chew on This

Coming of age in fairy tales is less about you than who you know.

The lessons in these tales about maturation, for all their fantastic content, are applicable to the real world…or are they?