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The Uncle (Babes In The Wood)

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"Now, brother", said the dying man, "look to my children dear"

The Uncle (whose real name is never revealed) is the original villain in the unedited version of the fairy tale "Babes In The Wood" - this is one of the darker fairy tales and is notable for having a tragic ending in which the villain actually succeeds: later versions omitted these elements in order to cater for more modern tastes.

Original Story

In the original story two children are orphaned and brought into the care of a heartless uncle, who has no interest in looking after the children, he has two ruffians take the children out into the woods with the intent of killing them and inherits the wealth of their parents: however one of the ruffians can't bare to kill the children so murders the other and abandons the two children in the woods, the two children wander and become lost - they die in each others arms and are buried under leaves by robins (in later tales they ascend to Heaven but this was a latter addition to give the story a happier ending).

The Uncle was never convicted of his crime and apparently lived without punishment - this is a very rare case in literature, where villains tend to be foiled or made to pay for their crimes.


The story of "Babes In The Wood" left a legacy behind in the fact that a number of child murder cased have been labelled "Babes In The Woods" murders by the media.


  • The Uncle shares similarities to other characters from fairy tales:
    • The Mother (Hansel & Gretel) - although newer tales have her as a stepmother the original tale had her as the famous duo's actual mother, she persuaded their father to abandon them in the woods: unlike the Babes they survived.
    • Stepmother (Father Frost) - a cruel stepmother who hated her stepdaughter, so had her husband take her stepdaughter into a frozen field to die - however the girl meets Father Frost (an embodiment of winter) and is kind to him, as a reward he gives her fine clothing and jewels which she uses to buy herself a "happy ever after" scenario.

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