All Fur is a 19th century German tale written by the Brothers Grimm. The tale deals with incest and how a young lady can escape an abusive father. When the King’s wife dies it becomes imperative that he was to marry again. However, he would not settle on any woman unless she was as beautiful as his late wife was.
Ironically, the only woman in the kingdom that possesses the beauty of his wife is his daughter, with whom he becomes obsessed. In the tale, it is said that, “…In every respect she was like his dead wife…” suggesting the projection of an anima ideal.
This leaves no room for the princess to be different from her mother (Jewett, 20). She is the bloodline of the wife and is just as beautiful. The King plans on having an incestuous relationship with her. This is not the sign of a good parent.
This type of relationship is symbolic of the faults of parents in 19th century Germany. Not all parents knew how to act the right way and Brothers Grimm account of monstrous parents brought a social light to this. The King’s daughter, obviously releasing the unnatural and cynical intentions of her father, refused to let him have his way.
The princess makes a decision based on her moral values and determines on her own that her father is wrong. Interestingly here, the Brothers Grimm play on a common theme that Perrault used in the development of his heroes and heroines. All Fur gives her father three tasks that must be accomplished in order for her hand in marriage.
The princess, not yet at her highest level of development, which is necessary to become a heroine, tries to outsmart her father by giving him seemingly impossible tasks. The King somehow manages to come up with her gifts, but in her development into a heroine, she realizes that the gifts actually will help her achieve her journey to the highest level of development (Jewett 20).
In the 19th century Germany it was considered a horrible act to disobey or try to deceive one’s own parents. However, the Brothers Grimm, through their themes of monstrous parents and moral development, show that in some circumstances parents need to be disobeyed.
The princess must now begin her “journey”. She uses the gifts that he provided to help her get away from him. As the story progresses the Brothers Grimm seem to centralize more of Perrault’s themes. As in Little Tom Thumb (written by Perrault) gifts that served evil intentions are used to the advantage of the hero/heroine as they develop morally and intellectually.
The cloak made of animal furs symbolizes her instincts, which explains her rejection of the unnatural relationship between her and her father (Jewett p.21). More importantly, though, the fur cloak symbolizes her progress of development. Eventually, she will lose the fur cloak revealing her new self. In other words, the fur cloak is her cocoon in which an extensive metamorphosis is occurring.
The princess is trying to protect her sexual self, which is why she left her father. “Another take on the imagery of ring, spindle, and reel is tied to the central issue of incest…it is the feminine self that is violated specifically by way of sexual threat…”(Jewett 22). The three objects are symbols of female roundness and female sexual intercourse. Placing these objects in the soup for the new king to find could be seen as a test in which the princess will see if she is valued, or just seen as an ordinary female.
The princess begins to understand that her father only valued her as a female and not as a person. Her intellectual development leads her on her way to becoming a heroine. The princess must be valued as a person by the new king in order for her acceptance of him (Jewett, p. 22).
The union between All Fur and the new king indirectly symbolized to the 19th century Germans the proper protocol for courting. Incest was not accepted, but it was also not up for social discussion. So the Brothers Grimm used the fairy tale to portray the thoughts and ideals of times. All Fur’s father was wrong in his intentions to marry his own daughter.
The central themes show the importance of a child to develop his/her own sense of moral rules and values. When a parent is wrong the child has the right to question the act and rebel.
Jewett, Julia. “Allerleirauh” (All-Kinds-of-Fur) A Tale of Father Dominance, Psychological Incest, and Female Emergence. P: 19-25.