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Disproportionate Retribution / Fairy Tales

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  • In the original version of "Beauty and the Beast", the Beast threatens to kill a poor merchant for taking one of his roses as a gift for his youngest daughter unless he sends his daughter to live with him forever. Compare this to the Disney version where the Beast starts out as more of a Jerkass but only imprisons Maurice for trespassing as opposed to threatening him with murder.
  • In The Brothers Grimm fairy tale "The Dog and the Sparrow", the titular animals are friends. Then, the dog is driven over and killed by a carter, even though the sparrow warned him. So at first the sparrow pecks off the plug of the wine barrel the carter was transporting, wasting all the wine; then, he tries to peck out the eyes of the horses, the carter tries to kill him with his hoe, but hits the horse on its head instead, killing it. Repeat for all the wine barrels and horses. When the carter arrives at home, he sees that thousands of birds have eaten up the wheat in the attic. He wants to kill the sparrow with his hoe, but only manages to destroy his complete home. Yes, even the walls. Then he catches the sparrow and wants to swallow him, but the sparrow flutters up, the carter tells his wife to kill the sparrow with the hoe... but she kills him instead. The sparrow survives.
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  • Hans Christian Andersen's story The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf. The protagonist is a vain, selfish and cruel young girl who tortures insects and uses the bread she's supposed to bring to her poor family as a stepping stone to avoid dirtying her shoes. Her punishment? Becoming a statue in Hell. And for bonus points, she is able to hear everything heard on Earth about her. She stays in this state for a long time, until an angel starts to cry for her and sets her soul free.
  • In The Pied Piper of Hamelin, the title character rids the town of its rat infestation, but is then denied the gold he'd been promised in return for helping them. His response? The piper lures the townspeople's children away with his music, and their fate afterward varies depending on the version - but in almost every version, the townspeople never see their children again.
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  • Prunella is imprisoned and given Impossible Tasks by a Wicked Witch because she took plums from a branch that extended over the road.
  • Rapunzel (not the Disney version) was taken from her parents as an infant because of this trope. According to the fairy tale, when Rapunzel's mother was pregnant, the family lived next door to a witch with a garden full of rampion (a kind of cabbage), which the mother was craving desperately. She finally made her husband go steal some for her, and he was caught by the witch. When he explained why he was stealing the rampion, she agreed to spare him, but demanded that they give her the baby as payment. Admittedly, it was pretty jerkish to steal the rampion instead of knocking on the door and asking to buy or barter some, but a baby is still a pretty hefty price to pay for salad greens. However, given the common cultural beliefs that an expecting mother's cravings ABSOLUTELY needed to be followed or else she and the baby might die, he probably didn't want to risk the witch being a Jerkass and refusing to give him any.
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  • The Red Shoes, also by Andersen, is the story of a spoiled girl that wears her red shoes to church and vainly fawns over them. Her shoes are cursed to dance when she chooses to attend a lavish party after her adopted mother's death. The shoes continue to dance against her will on and on, even after her feet have been severed. An angel declares that she will dance even after she dies as a warning against vanity.
  • The story of Sleeping Beauty kicks off when a fairy is humiliated by not receiving an invitation to the royal christening. So she places a death curse on the infant.
  • Poor Snow White has her stepmother constantly trying to kill her; different versions offer assorted means of attempt, ranging from a poisoned comb to enchanted corset lacings, although the sympathetic huntsman and the poisoned apple are pretty universal. Why did the Queen want her stepdaughter killed? Because a magic mirror said Snow White was the more beautiful of the two.
    • In some versions of the story, the stepmother is even worse - any woman who the mirror told her was more beautiful than she was either got exiled from the country (if she was lucky) or was put to death. Eventually, the princess became the target.
    • And in the Grimm version of the story, the evil stepmother tells the huntsman to kill Snow White and bring her heart back so she can eat it.
    • It gets even worse; in the earliest versions, it was Snow White's actual mother, who was actually the one who wished for Snow White to be as beautiful as she was. Imagine your own mother, not a wicked stepmother, clamoring for your death because you're more beautiful than she is; something she herself asked for.
    • In the version they collected, the queen did not send her daughter to be killed; she drove into the forest, ordered her out to collect roses, and then ordered the carriage onward while she was gathering them.
  • The nursery rhyme Goosey Goosey Gander ends with "There I met an old man who would not say his prayers/So I took him by his left leg and threw him down the stairs."


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