Abstract: In the Brothers Grimm fairy tales—which are the main reference point of this paper—motifs such as malformed human bodies (dwarfism) or faces (cyclopia, etc.), and loss of body—e.g. due to its transformation into an animal—occur frequently. They show a significant or total departure from typical human characteristics and are usually a clear sign of the manifestation of evil (done to others or experienced by them) or of a person’s supernatural qualities. A closer analysis, however, reveals a deeper symbol which goes back to the cultural significance of the body part or anomaly which affected the body. A fairy tale is also a message about the subjective meaning of ‘otherness’ for the subject and his surroundings. The aim of this article is to show the cultural and psychological importance of a ‘lack’—congenital or acquired—of the essential attributes of a human form (growth, typical number and position of the organs) from the perspective of contemporary readers.
Keywords: brothers grimm fairy tales, symbolism, transformation, loss, body