Date of Award

Spring 1974

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Parr, Roger P.

Second Advisor

Jones, Leo

Third Advisor

Price, Michael J.


A good percentage of children's literature is comprised of stories which are referred to as classics. These classics are perennial favorites which universally seem to be part of the childhood experiences of western culture. "Fairy tales," as these stories most commonly are called, are found in literary form in various anthologies, in dramatic form in the live theater, in the movies, and on television. The basic narratives of fairy tales are so taken for granted by the general audience that little thought is given as to their origin and first purpose. They are attributed to the Brothers Grimm, Hans Cristian Andersen, or some other figure noted for collections of "children's stories." Ironically, these fairy tales did not originate for children, but were composed by adults for adults. They are part of the oral tradition of the storyteller. that mysterious entertainer who filled the hours of tile night with tales of other worlds. It was only in the last century, when technology enabled men to ' illuminate the darkness, that the oral storyteller's role diminished. The stories were then presented in written form, and subsequently transformed into children's literature. This thesis traces one particular fairy tale, Rumpelstiltskin, which is included in the Grimms' collection. from its origins in folklore to its present adaptation for children's theater. It will discuss the dramatic aspects of the basic story. as well as the various attempts to extend the drama by the addition of characters and action; it will further describe a production of a musical version of Rumpelstiltskin as an example of a successful children's theater script developed from a classic fairy tale.



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