Rumpelstiltskin: Story Summary & Facts Video

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  • 0:04 Background
  • 0:20 The Miller & the King
  • 0:57 Spinning Gold
  • 2:03 Fulfilling the Promise
  • 3:08 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 summarize the fairy tale 'Rumpelstiltskin,' which was recorded by Jacob Ludwig Grimm and Wilhelm Carl Grimm based on the stories and folktales they had heard while traveling.


Have you ever made a promise that you later regretted making? Rumpelstiltskin, written down by the Brothers Grimm, warns the reader of the dangers of speaking without thinking through the story of a miller's daughter who is forced to do the impossible. Let's summarize this story.

The Miller and the King

The fairytale begins with a poverty-stricken miller, a person who grinds grain into flour, who tries too hard to seem important when he gets his chance to talk to the king. The miller brags that his daughter is so talented that she can 'spin gold out of straw.'

The king is either impressed or prepared to teach the miller a lesson, because he orders the miller to bring his daughter to the castle so she can provide proof of her abilities. The miller's daughter is locked into a room filled with straw, a spinning wheel, and a spindle. The King says, 'Now set to work, and if by the early morning you have not spun this straw to gold, you shall die.'

Spinning Gold

Obviously, the miller's daughter is in a panic and fears for her life because she can't deliver on her father's boast. As she cries, a little man walks into the room and tells her that he will spin the straw for her in exchange for her necklace.

The king is pleased when he discovers the gold the next morning, but is too greedy to stop there. He locks her in another larger room and once again threatens her life if all of the straw is not spun into gold by morning. The little man returns the second night, agreeing to spin the straw into gold in exchange for her ring.

The king is happy to find gold once again. On the third night, the king takes the miller's daughter to a room with even more straw in it, but this time, he says, 'This, too, must be spun in one night, and if you accomplish it you shall be my wife.'

The young girl is distraught once again because she has nothing left to give the little man. He tells her that in exchange for spinning the straw for her, she must give him her first-born child after she becomes the Queen. The young girl, thinking that this seems far away and she may not even have children, agrees. In the morning, the king is happy. He follows through on his promise and makes the miller's daughter his wife.

Fulfilling the Promise

The following year, the Queen gives birth to a child. By this time, she has forgotten about the little man. When he arrives demanding payment, she is terrified. The Queen offers to pay him with treasures, but the little man is not interested in lifeless riches.

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