"Mutsmag" vs. "Hansel and Gretel"

Journal Entry by Jessica Foley
Ferrum College


Note: Jessica Foley was a student in English 207, World Folktales and Literature, in Fall 2002. This is a general studies, special topics literature course at Ferrum College, taught by Tina Hanlon. Jessica wrote this comparison as an informal writing assignment in her reading journal, after reading Rex Stephenson's version of "Mutsmag" and other tales. Other teaching guides on this tale are listed at this link, which also takes you to AppLit's online version of Stephenson's story with illustrations by Virginia school children.


The stories “Mutsmag” and “Hansel and Gretel” are very similar in plots. Both have a different spin on the basic story, but the main story line remains the same.

Both stories have children being separated from their parents. In “Hansel and Gretel” the mean stepmother declares that there is not enough food to feed everyone and she tells her husband the children must leave. The father agrees hesitantly and takes the children to the woods and drops them off. After several attempts the father finally succeeds and the two children are lost in the woods. In their journey to find their way home they come up on a house made of sweets and goodies. The children stop at the house to stay and eat. In “Mutsmag” the children are separated from their mother, after she gives them one last gift. The children go on a journey where they meet up with a giant’s wife. They ask to stop and stay the night, and the woman does not agree at first but then changes her mind. Both stories have the characters separated from their homes. On their journey they run in to a stranger's house where they will stay the night.

Each story has an evil character. In “Hansel and Gretel” the evil character is the old woman, who is sort of like a witch. In “Mutsmag” it is the giant. In both stories the characters use their brains to escape from the evil villains. In “Hansel and Gretel,” the children trick the woman and push her into the fireplace, killing her instantly. In “Mutsmag,” Mutsmag tricks the giant two times. The first is when the giant goes to eat her and her sisters at night, by feeling of their necklaces. Mutsmag switches the necklaces and the giant kills his own children by accident. The second attempt is when the giant finally catches her and declares he will kill her. Mutsmag tricks the giant into killing her a certain way, but while he is out gathering what he needs, she puts his wife into the bag, where he thinks she is. The giant kills his wife, instead of Mutsmag. [Note: This occurs in other versions of "Mutsmag," not in Stephenson's.]

In both stories as you can see, brains and wits beat the villains at their games.

Both stories have a happy ending. In “Mutsmag,” she saves the day, and is offered the king’s son, but refuses, saying she has much to do on her own. She shows her independence and you know that she has found happiness. In “Hansel and Gretel,” the children are reunited with their father and they live happily ever after. Both stories end with the main characters being happy.

Both stories are very similar in plot, but the actual stories are different enough from each other to keep you interested through the pages.


Page created 1/23/03    Last Update: 6/1/10

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