Grimms’ Fairy Tales.
The Fisherman and the Flounder and the Elves and the shoemaker.
with Robert Bailey as Uncle Bob.
The fisherman and his wife live in a hovel by the sea. One day the fisherman catches a golden flounder who claims to be an enchanted prince. The fisherman kindly releases it. When his wife hears the story, she says he ought to have had the flounder grant him a wish. She tells him to go back and ask the flounder to grant her wish for a nice house instead of their hovel. He returns to the shore and is uneasy when he finds the sea seems to be turning dark when it was so clear before. He makes up a rhyme to summon the flounder, and it grants the wife’s wish. However, the wife gets greedy and makes increasingly outrageous demands: a castle, to become queen, then become empress, and finally become pope. The fisherman knows this is wrong but there is no reasoning with his wife. The flounder grants the wishes, but the sea grows increasingly stormy every time the fisherman goes to summon it. Eventually the wife goes too far when she wishes to become equal to God. The flounder revokes everything it granted, and the fisherman and his wife are back in their hovel.
The Elves and the Cobbler or The Shoemaker and the Elves is an often copied and re-made 1806 story about a poor shoemaker who receives much-needed help from elves.
The original story is the first of three fairy tales, contained as entry 39 in the German Grimm’s Fairy Tales under the common title “Die Wichtelmänner”. In her translation of 1884 Margaret Hunt chose The Elves as title for these three stories.
It is Aarne-Thompson type 503*: Helpful Elves. It is also a migratory legend, type 7015.
There are variations depending on the rendition of the story. A poor shoemaker and his wife need money to pay the rent. He gives away the last pair of shoes he has to a needy lady. He has leather to make one more pair of shoes. Elves come in the night and make a pair of shoes which he sells for more than his asking price the next day. He uses that money to pay the rent, buy food and more shoe leather. He feeds a poor traveller. The elves come the next night and make 2 pairs of shoes with the additional leather. He gives away one pair to a needy person and sells the other pair to a referral from the first customer who is immensely satisfied. He buys leather for 3 shoes, and stays up to find the elves making the shoes. The shoemaker and wife make clothes for the elves the next day, but the elves are lifted from their obligation when given clothes, so the elves leave, and the shoemaker and his wife never see them again.