lost: a story in eight pictures

Lost: a story in eight pictures.

Hansel and Gretel are sent by their parents deep into a wood, which by any standard is a pretty stupid thing for a pair of responsible adults to have done.  Gretel has some bread in her pocket (she is always hungry) and cleverly leaves a trail of crumbs on the ground to mark the way home again. Alas, a bird eats all the crumbs, thus destroying the trail. It’s not a malicious bird, but it is a hungry one.

With no crumbs to guide them, the children become lost in the wood.

A cat approaches them. It seems friendly and leads them along a path…

… luring them deeper into the wood to a house made of gingerbread and sugar.

A wicked Witch has trapped the children.

She means to eat Hansel, and locks him in a cage to fatten him. Gretel is forced to be the Witch’s servant, scrubbing pots and brushing floors for her.

Gretel asks the Witch to show her how to check that the stove is hot enough to cook in. But the question is just a ruse to get the old woman to stand close to the open oven, and clever Gretel pushes her into the flames and slams the door shut, BANG!

The Witch is burned to ashes. Hoorah!

That is the end of the story in pictures. But just so as you know, this is what happens afterwards.

Gretel is careful to take the Witch’s cat with them when they leave the gingerbread house, explaining to Hansel that they must be responsible for it. Later, back at home, their parents aren’t exactly pleased to see them. It has been quieter without the children, and there’s been more food to go around. One day Hansel comes in from playing to find the parents missing, and the cat gone too. Gretel sits next to the stove, humming while waiting for the joints to roast.  She likes cooking, but likes eating even more. Gretel piles her brother’s plate high with meat and swamps it with hot, greasy gravy. She pinches his cheek and smiles encouragingly at him. She means to fatten him up.

AFTERWORD: 20/10/12

Over at Dave Bonta’s blog Via Negativa, word-smith Luisa A. Igloria turned her eye to this post, and revised my revision. It’s beautifully written and thought-provoking too. I was just being playful with the subject, but Luisa takes it to another level.

29 thoughts on “lost: a story in eight pictures

  1. Pingback: witch enamelware plate | Clive Hicks-Jenkins' Artlog:

  2. Hi Clive 🙂

    Thanks for being a good sport. I also like to tinker with old stories. And, since just a little while ago I’d written a few prose poems at Via Negativa that took off from the Hansel and Gretel narrative— like http://www.vianegativa.us/2011/12/en-crepinette/ — reading your post from Dave’s link started me down that path again.

    I suspect that some of it too might have to do with the fact that I’ve been/am raising daughters…

  3. You are a gifted story teller leaving the listener puzzled by the ending. Bravo. What a wonderfully perverse conclusion, a new twist on a familiar tale. As I mentioned to you before, I have been taking a mythology/folk-lore class, Hansel and Gretel explored last week. I have read numerous interpretations, including Louise Murphy’s “The True Story of Hansel And Gretel”,set in Nazi occupied Poland (fantastic); all wonderful but your interpretation is a new spin, delightfully creepy.

    • I’ll seek out the Louise Murphy. Thanks for the tip. My own recommendation on fairy tale matters is Angela Carter’s short story collection The Bloody Chamber. Not to be missed! Hansel and Gretel isn’t one of the stories Carter re-imagines, though she takes two tilts at Beauty and the BeastThe Tiger’s Bride and The Courtship of Mr Lyon… both of them wonderful.

  4. These plates are thrilling! Absolutely not a waste of time…. and while a painting unfortunately and unjustly may languish in dusty corner, leaned up against the wall, I’m sure you’ll get plenty of enjoyment from these plates (and so will your guests!).

    But I would have sworn Hansel was Gretel’s partner in crime… I guess everyone should always sleep with one eye open, eh?

    • Thank you Jodi. My working year has been fractured by circumstances that have made it difficult to face up to easel-painting. There have been the books for Marly Youmans, the cover for Damian Walford Davies’ Witch, the images for The Soldier’s Tale in Washington and rather a lot of ‘this, that and the other’, all of which kept me going while leaving space enough to deal with the other matters requiring my energy and attention.

      But with large-scale painting too long put off and needing to be got on with, I’m rather taken aback to find myself making images for ‘nursery plates’. There’s an undoubted unease here, a little dance of prevarication to avoid the coming long haul of commitment at the easel. Ho hum. I think I must have the painter’s equivalent of stage-fright, and I’m tinkering with fairy tales as an avoidance tactic!

  5. Pingback: Revise(d) | Via Negativa

  6. What a glorious tale…and plates to match….perfect. I am, however, starting to feel slightly nervous when standing near the cooker. Kit says he is a vegetarian…..but you never know!

  7. Eep!

    Always liked your imagination… Too bad you don’t have an extra life to indulge in words.

    I like these. And one could change the order of the plates around and tell different stories, too.

  8. Pingback: Hansel and Gretel revisited | Via Negativa

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