#FairytaleTuesday: Hans’s Trina

Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index type 1383: A Woman Does Not Know Herself

Okay, y’all… this one is very short and very odd but seems to end well for the woman in question so that’s a pleasant twist! And there’s no content warnings this week.

When I initially started looking into this story I couldn’t find anything at all. I had been searching by the story title, “Hans’s Trina” which yielded nothing.

Searching the ATU Index led me to type 1383: A Woman Does Not Know Herself which felt like the best guess so I went with it. And then, when I was preparing to post this I took another shot and just searched the tale type itself, and not the story title. That’s when I finally found it, on D.L. Ashliman’s site. The difference here is in the name of the wife, Katie versus Trina and in the wife’s reaction. Katie walks out of the village and never comes back. Trina has a bit more of an enthusiastic reaction. Outside of that, there is no analysis of the story.

So, as I usually do with the short and obscure stories, I’m just going to give you the entire silly thing and then we’ll discuss it briefly.

Hans’s Trina was lazy and didn’t want to do any work. She said to herself: ‘What should I do? Should I eat, sleep, or work?—Ahh! I think I’ll eat first!’

After she had stuffed herself fully, she said to herself again: ‘What should I do? Work or sleep?—Ahh! I think I’ll sleep a little first.’

Then she lay down and slept, and when she woke up, it was night. So she could no longer go out and work.

One time Hans returned home at noon and found Trina sleeping again in their room. So he took his knife and cut off her dress at the knees. Trina awoke and thought: ‘It’s time now to go to work.’ However, when she went outside to work and saw that the dress was so short she became frightened and wondered whether she really was Trina and said to herself: ‘Am I or am I not Trina?’ She didn’t know how to answer this question and stood there a while in doubt. Finally, she thought: ‘You should go home and ask if you are you. They’ll know for sure.’

So she returned home, knocked at the window, and called inside: ‘Is Hans’s Trina inside?’

Since the others thought she was in her usual place, they answered: ‘Yes, she’s lying down in her room and sleeping.’

‘Well, then I’m not me,’ Trina said in delight. So she went off to the village and never returned, and this is how Hans got rid of his Trina.

Grimm, Jacob; Grimm, Wilhelm. The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition (p. 116). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

I don’t even know where to start with this one. I know it says that Hans got rid of his Trina but it sounds more like Trina found a way to ditch her boring life and find something better to do. I’m also confused by the “cutting down the skirt as a form of gaslighting” action. Like, why would she be so confused about this? She woke up in the same skirt she went to sleep in except that now it was hacked off and ragged.

I’ve gotten pretty good at analyzing these stories over the last few years but this one has me baffled. It’s very simple, and rather charming, and I don’t know what it means. But that’s ok, right? While fairy tales often have layers and layers of meaning, they don’t necessarily have too. Or the meaning has been lost simply because it was highly specific to a particular place and time.

Having said that, there are enough of these stories within this tale type that it seems that men were constantly trying to get rid of the women in their lives by gaslighting them into wandering away. Make of that what you will.

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