The Flexibility of Fairy Tales

The Poor Miller’s Boy and the Cat

. . . Where did all the time go?


There once was a miller who was getting old in age who had three field hands. He told these three boys that whoever brought back the best horse would inherit the mills when he died as long as they swore to take care of him for the rest of his life. Two boys were friendly with one another and hated the “simpleton” who was the third boy. When the three set off on their journey the other two boys abandoned the third boy while he slept. When he woke up, he was found by a cat who promised to give him the most magnificent horse if he stayed with and served her for seven years.

Image result for the miller's poor boy and the cat

The years seem to pass in a matter of days for the simpleton boy and he returns to the miller without a horse although the cat promises to bring one in three days. The other two boys (who apparently also took seven years to find horses) return with one lame horse and one blind horse. While the miller initially dismisses the simpleton boy, after three days, he accepts the boy as his successor when the cat (now a beautiful human princess) returns with six gorgeous horses and one utterly magnificent horse. The story ends,

“The princess said that she would give him the horse and that the miller could just keep the mill for himself. She took faithful Hans by the hand and got into the coach with him and drove off . . . Then the two married, and he was so rich, so very rich, that he had more than enough money for the rest of his life. So don’t let people tell you that a simpleton will never amount to anything in life.”



Another not-so-well known fairy tale, perhaps even less known than the Frog King. Perhaps one of the most interesting things happening here is the role reversal in which it is the princess who comes to the rescue of the helpless male.

The obvious moral of the story: Faithfulness is rewarded

  • Throughout the story it seems like Hans is just caught up by the cat and her magical home. However, in the last paragraph the princess focuses on the phrase “faithful Hans.” Therefore, we can assume that perhaps Hans was not simply swept away by the princess’s magic; instead, he intentionally remained and served her.

The not-so-obvious moral of the story: Don’t judge a person by their appearance.

  • In the last sentence of the story, the Grimm brothers warn their readers to not judge a simpleton’s abilities or accomplishments. Can it be assumed that they are arguing against judgement of any kind? Perhaps.

The interesting involvement of time, or lack thereof.

  • Time is a curious thing in this story. The narrative itself is only four and half pages, yet the story is supposed to cover 7+ years. Time quite literally flies in the story as seven years passes in a matter of days. Time becomes insignificant and malleable. Does Hans servitude mean as much, is his faithfulness as important when seven years is hardly a wrinkle in time?

What do you think of this story? Have you read it before?

17 thoughts on “The Poor Miller’s Boy and the Cat”

  1. No i never heard it before. I think that as Hans remained with the “cat” 7 years by choice , the time flew fast as he wasn’t in any hurry. And as he was loyal , he was rewarded. I think that the purpose of the story is a nice one ; never judge by the appearance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this very much. It resonates how I used to be treated because of my hypothyroidism. I am older now with more self-esteem and confidence but it has not Always been the case. I had a good Dad who Always believed in me and my potential.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never heard of this story before. Thanks for the post, Kayla Ann. 🙂

    What is with fairytales and princes and princesses’? I want to read a fairytale where there is not one prince or princess involved without it being about animals either. What about fairytales with commoners?

    By the way, I nominated you for the Liebster Award. Here’s a link to it on my blog if you’re interested.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Lol almost off the fairy tales I’ve read have to do with princes and princesses unless they Main characters are animals!
      Thank you so much for the award! I’m not really doing them anymore but I seriously appreciate the compliment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s