Rumpelstiltskin: Main Characters & Analysis Video

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  • 0:03 Background
  • 0:25 The Miller
  • 1:00 The King
  • 1:52 The Miller's Daughter
  • 2:51 Rumpelstiltskin
  • 3:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we'll describe the four main characters in the Brothers Grimm fairytale ''Rumpelstiltskin,'' including the miller, the king, the miller's daughter, and the title character Rumpelstiltskin.


Who are you trying to impress? In Rumpelstiltskin by the Brothers Grimm, the poor miller and his daughter get into a lot of trouble when they try too hard to impress the king. The miller's daughter is grateful for the help of a little man until she realizes the price is too much to pay. Let's learn more about the miller, his daughter, the king, and the little man in this fairy tale.

The Miller

The miller is very poor and extremely insecure to the point that he does not think he has much to contribute in a conversation with royalty. When he finds himself in the company of the king, he embellishes - a lot! The miller says, 'I have a daughter who can spin straw into gold.'

The king is intrigued but wants proof. When the king demands that the miller bring his daughter to him, the miller has the option of admitting he has lied. However, the miller instead chooses to sacrifice his daughter to save face. The reader is left with the impression that the miller is selfish, a liar, and a braggart.

The King

The king is a powerful but greedy man. When the miller's daughter is presented to him, he locks her in a room filled with hay, a spinning wheel, and a spindle. The king says, 'Now set to work, and if by to-morrow morning early you have not spun this straw into gold during the night, you must die.' It is not exactly a motivational speech but indicates that he values riches over people.

When the king finds gold the next morning, he is happy but not satisfied. His greed takes over and he wants more. He locks her in another room with even more straw and makes the same threat. By the third night, he realizes that the miller's daughter is the girl of his dreams because, 'Even if she be a miller's daughter, I could not find a richer wife in the whole world.' The king makes the drastic conversion from sending death threats to a marriage proposal within a couple of days.

The Miller's Daughter

The miller's daughter was dragged into this thing by her lying father, but she doesn't expose him. Despite being in panic-mode, she mourns her fate without casting a negative word about the man who put her in that position. However, just because she's a loyal daughter does not mean she is without other faults.

For the first two nights that the king locks her away, her life is on the line. She would understandably do whatever she could to save herself. However, on the third night, it is not her life, but her ability to become the Queen that is at stake. In exchange for the title, she offers up her first born child. Granted, she's not yet a mother, and there is a chance that she will never be one, but regardless, she is not exactly 'Mother of the Year.'

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