Hansel and Gretel Compared to Contemporary Nanny McPhee

Nanny McPhee - Rotten Tomatoes

Hansel and Gretel can be loosely compared to the 2006 film Nanny McPhee. In this movie, a father must remarry after his wife passes or else he loses his house and his children. Last minute, he finds one ugly woman who is willing to marry. In front him, she is kind, but once he’s gone she belittles the children telling them they are under her control. Nanny McPhee comes (representing an angel) to help the father with the children, while teaching the children to behave, make moral decisions, but also hints as to how to get rid of their future stepmother. At the wedding, the stepmother leaves at the alter because of something the kids did (I won’t spoil the movie because it is really good) and the father marries a beautiful lady who attended the wedding. In Hansel and Gretel, their evil stepmother brings the kids deep into the wood so her and her husband wouldn’t starve, despite the husband’s proposal to keep the kids and ration the food. Hansel and Gretel are starving and a white bird leads them to a candy house which belongs to a cannibalistic witch. Hansel and Gretel outsmart the witch by burning her to death, find tons of jewels, find their way home, reunite with their father, and find out their stepmother is dead. Both of these stories have a very happy ending. In Hansel and Gretel, we can argue that the white bird represent the kid’s mother who passed leading them to food so they wouldn’t starve; we can stretch this by saying although she knew the witch was dangerous, she knew her kids could outsmart her and survive. Similarly, we can argue that Nanny McPhee is an angel sent down by the children’s mother (or their mother herself in a different form) to protect her children from their future stepmother. In Hansel and Gretel, the witch dying represents the stepmother dying, which would ward off any future evil in the household. In Nanny McPhee when the children’s almost-stepmother leaves the alter, they are protected from any more abuse. Although the plots of both of these stories are quite different, they have very similar themes and symbols. For example, dead mother, evil stepmother, rags to riches, abuse, birds, angels, etc.

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