Learn English Network
The Brothers Grimm
Hansel and Gretel - Synopsis
Hansel and Gretel are the children of a poor wood cutter. Fearing starvation, the wood cutter's wife—the children's step-mother—convinces him to lead the children into the forest and abandon them there. Hansel and Gretel hear her plan and gather white pebbles to leave themselves a trail home. After their return, their stepmother again convinces the wood cutter to abandon them; this time however, they can only leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Unfortunately, the various animals of the woods eat their trail of breadcrumbs causing Hansel and Gretel to become lost.
Lost in the forest, they find a house made of bread (later versions call it gingerbread), with sugar windows, which they begin to eat. The inhabitant of the house, who is an old woman, invites them in and prepares a feast for them. The woman, however, is a witch who has built the house to entice children to her, so that she may fatten and eat them. She cages Hansel, and makes Gretel her servant. While she prepares to cook Hansel, she tells Gretel to climb into an oven to be sure it is ready to bake; but Gretel guesses that the witch intends to bake her, and tricks the witch into climbing into the oven, closing it behind her.
Taking jewels from the witch's house, they set off for home to be reunited with their father, whose wife has since died. "Then all anxiety was at an end, and they lived together in perfect happiness."