Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Title

Transgressive Tales: Queering the Brothers Grimm

First Page


Last Page


Additional Publication URL


The fairy tales in the Kinder- und Hausmiirchen, or Children's and Household Tales, compiled by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are among the world's most popular, yet they have also provoked discussion and debate regarding their authenticity, violent imagery, and restrictive gender roles. In this chapter I interpret the three versions published by the Grimm brothers of ATU 451, "The Maiden Who Seeks Her Brothers," focusing on constructions of family, femininity, and identity. I utilize the folkloristic methodology of allomotific analysis, integrating feminist and queer theories of kinship and gender roles. I follow Pauline Greenhill by taking a queer view of fairy tale texts from the Grimms' collection, for her use of queer implies both "its older meaning as a type of destabilizing redirection, and its more recent sense as a reference to sexualities beyond the heterosexual." This is appropriate for her reading of"Fitcher's Bird" (ATU 3111 "Rescue by the Sister") as a story that "subverts patriarchy, heterosexuality, femininity, and masculinity alike" (20081 147). I will similarly demonstrate that "The Maiden Who Seeks Her Brothers" only superficially conforms to the Grimms' patriarchal, nationalizing agenda, for the tale rather subversively critiques the nuclear family and heterosexual marriage by revealing ambiguity and ambivalence. The tale also queers biology, illuminating transbiological connections between species and a critique of reproductive futurism. Thus, through the use of fantasy, this tale and fairy tales in general can question the status quo, addressing concepts such as self, other, and home.


This article was archived with permission from Wayne State University Press, all rights reserved. Document also available from: Jeana Jorgensen, 2012 “Queering Kinship in ‘The Maiden Who Seeks Her Brothers.’” In Transgressive Tales: Queering the Brothers Grimm, eds. Kay Turner and Pauline Greenhill. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. 69-89.