This chapter analyzes the Grimm brothers' tale of “Rumpelstiltskin,” which reflects a period prior to the mass production of textiles, when the industry was moving from hand-weaving to industrial machinery. The tale contains traces of atavistic cultures or activities, including milling, spinning, smithying, hoarding, limping, guessing, or riddling; and characters such as kings, dwarves, wives, and firstborn sons. Fitting this tale around the model of alchemy as ambivalent yields one particular narrative/thematic pattern: greed and the subsequent covering up of greed.
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