"The Fisherman and his Wife" in Household Stories from the Bros. Grimm,

translated by Lucy Crane.


Ethnic Origin



Running Time

5-6 minutes


Power Center

The fisherman's wife always wanting more from the enchanted prince



The fisherman, his wife, and the enchanted prince/flounder



Poor husband and wife struggling to survive

Husband fishing/Discovering enchanted prince

Unsatisfied Wife/Wanting more (cottage, castle, king, emperor, control the sun and moon)

Returning to lake

"And there they are sitting to this very day."



Poor married couple struggling to live.  Husband decides to go fishing to catch some food for them to eat. Catches a very large flounder that speaks to him and tells him that he is an enchanted prince.  The fisherman throws him back into the water.  When wife hears of this, she begins ordering the fisherman to return to the lake and make wishes to the enchanted prince for a better life.  She keeps wanting more and more until finally she wants to control the sun and the moon each day and the fish takes everything away from them and restores their original life.


Rhyme/Special Phrases/Flavor

"Oh man, oh man, if man you be

Or flounder, flounder in the sea.

Such a tiresome wife I have got

For she wants what I do not."


"And it is there they are sitting to this very day."


Colors of lake on each visit: clear, green and yellow, purple and dark

blue, dark grey, black, dark/stormy with huge clouds and waves all about.



Repetition in story, magical fish should be appealing to preschool

age.  The ability to describe the lavish changes to the wife's life should interest a young audience. Descriptive words and the addition of a few sounds (i.e. fishing pole) bring a very playful quality to the story.  They might not understand the ending, but will recognize it as a conclusion to everything that they have just heard.  When I told this

story to my college age roommates, only two of them really understood the ending! So you never know



Bibliographic Information

British Folktales, "The fisherman and his wife," Katherine Briggs.


The Magic Gold Fish, Demi. (Russia)



Briggs- The language was slightly more difficult to discern, but it would still be a fine story to tell.


Demi- Russian skew on the story.  Contains wife wishing ultimately to be a Czarina and rule the "golden fishes."  Concept of the golden fish didn't appeal to me.


Crane- A lot of room for elaboration with sounds and descriptions. Story was too long, but was easily cut without harming the structure of the story.