What Is the Theme of “Hansel and Gretel”?

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The theme of “Hansel and Gretel” addresses survival and resilience in a world of food scarcity and deprivation. Evil is introduced as one strategy of survival, but it is overcome by the clever children.

The sin of gluttony in the guise of the witch and the gingerbread house is also acknowledged within the tale. Gingerbread is an enticement to the children. It enables the evil witch to entrap them. The witch takes time to fatten up Hansel. Gretel takes advantage of the witch’s gluttony to secure their freedom. Many generations of Germanic peoples passed this tale down through an oral tradition of folklore until the Brothers Grimm included it in their collections of fairy tales in the 19th century. The timelessness of the theme of this story rests on the periods of feast and famine, deprivation, adversity, resilience and survival that characterize the human condition.