An Analysis of the Symbolism in Brothers Grimm
In literature, symbolism is used to suggest an underlying meaning in a story. In the story of “Godfather Death,” a quite ironic title, the Grimm brothers used a multitude of symbols to convey the story’s moral value. The Grimm brothers used seven symbols in this story. All of them play a part in conveying the message that death cannot be defied, death is constant, and death is fair.
The father in this story searches for a godfather for his thirteenth child, a son. The first person he comes to is God. He sees God as unfair and biased toward poor people. He states he does not want him as the godfather because he feels God ...view middle of the document...
He may have gone looking for a godfather to his thirteenth child to bring the number in his family back to a divine twelve.
The next symbol is the herb of healing. This is a gift and also a curse that Death bestows upon his godson. Death is willing to help him become a famous, wealthy doctor. Death who is fair, keeps the promise he made his godson’s father long ago, but the herb is used as Death sees it to be used, not the godson. This is spun into action when Death says” When I am standing at their feet they are mine, but if I am standing at their head they are to be healed” (Grimm 12). In Essence I see Death using his godson to help him invoke the ill. This outlines the power struggle that some father -son relationships go through. The father, always wanting what they think is best for the
child; the child being tired of being told what to do, rebels and defies the parent or authorative figure.
As the story flows, the doctor has healed many and is gaining quite a reputation. The king in this case represents the greed that can consume a man once he has had a taste of success. The king becomes ill and the doctor is summoned to confirm or deny his fate. The doctor sees Death standing at the king’s feet; this as it is known to the doctor is certain death. The doctor knows Death will forgive him; after all he is Death’s godson. The doctor defies Death’s wishes and turns the king around to where death is now standing at his head. The doctor, craving more money and perhaps more fame, heals the king with the herb. Healing the king can only increase the demand for his services. Death, as the father figure reprimands the doctor for going against his wishes. Death states that he is forgiven but if the doctor defies him again there will be severe consequences. The doctor is hooked on the satisfaction of the power he yields with the herb. His ego is fed and his confidence soars therefore disregarding his godfather’s stern warning.
Next on list of death is the princess. She symbolizes virtue, wealth, security and power. It has been stated by the king that “whoever saves his daughter will become her husband and inherit the crown” (Grimm 12). The doctor comes to help the ailing princess whose father he had just made well. Infatuated with her beauty and bewitched by the thought of being King, the doctor looks to his godfather, and again Death is standing at
her feet, testing the morality and obedience of his godson....