Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Sarah McGaughey




This research looks into the role and presentation of the “Volk” in the fairy tales of the Grimm Brothers. These fairy tales, first published in 1812, then revised, and republished 7 times until 1857, feature the attempts of the Grimm Brothers to collect and shape German folklore and literature during the influential literary moment of Romanticism. By drawing on philosophical and historical sources, this research works to define the German word “Volk” as the lower classes, which, at the time of the Grimm Brothers, was composed largely of farmers. This research therefore traces the Grimm Brother’s conception of the “Volk” through the characterization of the farmer within ten of the fairy tales. Through showing how the Grimm Brothers shaped the image of the “Volk” through their selection of the fairy tales and later revision of the tales, this research shows how the Grimm Brothers not only reshaped the genre of fairy tales, but also worked to celebrate and heighten the lower classes. Their work moves away from simply preserving a German “Volk” to presenting their own ideas of what the German “Volk” should be.