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The Frog Prince

Page history last edited by Amber Autry 13 years, 7 months ago

"The Frog King"

In Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s first edition of Kinder- und Hausmärchen, or Children’s and Household Tales (Berlin, 1812/1815), although separated by volume, the brothers included two tales about a frog that turns into a prince. One is named “The Frog King” and the other is “The Frog Prince.” The two stories are so similar in nature that subsequent versions of Children’s and Household Tales do not house the story of “The Frog Prince.” When the story was translated to English by Edgar Taylor he combined the two versions of the story, keeping the beginning of “The Frog King” and changing the ending to that of “The Frog Prince.” Taylor titled the translation “The Frog Prince.”

In “The Frog King” a princess is playing with a golden ball when it falls into a pond. She cries at the loss because the water is too deep to retrieve it. A frog approaches her and says that he’ll rescue the toy if she’ll agree to let him eat and sleep with her. The princess hastily accepts the offer with no intention of keeping her promise. The frog then finds and returns the golden ball to the princess who then proceeds to run away, ignoring her pledge. In the Grimm’s version of “The Frog Prince” the youngest of three princesses draws water from a well and discovers that it’s murky. A frog offers her clear water if she’ll be his sweetheart. She gives her word, but as soon as she receives the crystal clear water she leaves the frog and returns to her sisters.


In both versions the frog finds its way to the princess’s home and calls on her to keep her promise. Either by parental reprimand or her own volition, the princess lets the frog in and takes him to her room. In “The Frog King” when the frog asks the princess to let him sleep on her bed. Grossed out, the princess picks up the frog and then throws him against the wall. As the frog falls he is transformed into a handsome prince. The two of them are then taken in a “splendid carriage,” driven by the “faithful Heinrich,” to the prince’s kingdom where they are married. (In my opinion the princess in this version got off way to easy.) In the Grimm Brothers' “The Frog Prince” when the frog asks to sleep on the bed the princess lets him. In the morning he leaves and then returns at night and shares her bed again. He sleeps with her three nights in a row, and in the morning after the third night the princess wakes up to see a handsome prince with her. He explains that he “had been enchanted by a malicious fairy” and the princess had rescued him. The prince asks her to marry him. She agrees. They are then driven, this time by “faithful Henry,” to his kingdom where they are wed.


“The Enchanted Frog,” by German authors Carl and Theodor Colshorn, is a mix of both the story “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Frog Prince.” The youngest of three daughters asks her father for a “three colored” rose. After searching for this type of rose for a lengthy amount of time the father finds one next to a pond. Like the Beast, a frog appears and demands either the man’s life or his daughter’s hand in marriage. After putting up a bit of a fight, the girl eventually lets the frog sleep in her bed and in the morning he is a prince.


A similar tale to that of “The Frog King” was told in The Complaynt of Scotland (1549). The story is often referred to as “The Well of the World’s End” and some in Britain new the tale as the legend of a “Prince Paddock”. In this version the princess hacks of the head of the frog, by his request, and a prince appears. Other stories that tell of a frog that turns into a handsome prince can be found from Hungary, China, Korea, and Sri Lanka.


Check out the stories for yourself



  • Zipes, J. (2000). The Oxford companion to fairy tales: The western fairy tale tradition from medieval to modern. New York; Oxford University Press.
  • Opie P., Opie I. (1974). The Classic Fairy Tales. New York, Oxford; Oxford University Press.
  • Warner, M.(1994). From the beast to the blonde: On fairy tales and their tellers. New York; Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • Owens, L. (1981). The Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. New York, Toronto, London, Sydney, Auckland; Crown Publishers, Inc., Random House.
  • Ashliman, D. (2010). Grimm brothers’ home page. Retrieved from http://www.pitt.edu.
  • Heiner H. (1999). SurLaLune fairy tales. Retrieved from www.surlalunefairytales.com.


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