The elements which struck me at the time of reading were the similarities between the German Brother and Sister and the Russian Sister Alionushka, Brother Ivanuska. The two points I would like to think more on are the role of water in life (a fairly obvious connection I think), and the role of men and women in advancing through the life cycle - men as agents of change, women as passive but also the only movers.
Points I would like to look at:
- Brother's thirst (for Life) as shown through his attempts to drink in the various places at the start of the tale - perhaps with a symbolism that if you try to advance too fast you will not develop into a Man but will become a beast? Perhaps as punishment for jumping the gun on his own movement through the life cycle?
- Water as the place of murder or preservation. The bath is both where Sister (as Queen) is murdered and where she is then preserved (to wait for the Male agent?)
- Women accepting their stage in the Life cycle are rewarded and those who try to work outside of it are punished. Evidence (?): At the start in Grimm, Sister is the Maiden and her Step-mother/Witch is Mother. The Witch leaves Sister alone until as Queen, she is pushing the Witch to step forward from Mother to Crone. The Witch's Daughter is introduced as the new Maiden, but wishes to change her role without the male agent. When the Witch resists moving forward and her daughter attempts to jump ahead of her place in the cycle, they are punished.
- Men are agents who enable their women to move onto the next stage in their lifecycles. They are not active in their own right, but only as agents for the change of the women in the tale. However they are necessary, as women who try to move without the male agent are punished.
Other interesting points for me
- The Maiden who tries to pretend to be Mother is punished by being 'torn apart by beasts' - somewhere I remember this being interpreted as a rape metaphor, although this makes me a little uncomfortable.
- Numbers - the repetition of three is here again...
- Names - In Grimm very few characters are given names, and most of those who are are given symbolic names, e.g. Witling in Queen Bee, or Simpleton in Golden Goose; or are named for a specific item, such as the eponymous Rapunzel, who is named after the type of Rampion her pregnant mother had stolen for her from the Witch's garden.