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Alchemical MercuryA Theory of Ambivalence$
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Karen Pinkus

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804760324

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804760324.001.0001

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(p.104) § 4 Rumpelstiltskin
Alchemical Mercury
Stanford University Press

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.

Keywords:   Grimm brothers, fairy tales, alchemy, greed, ambivalent, king, miller's daughter

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