The Brothers Grimm story “The Two Brothers” focuses on two brothers, the identical twin sons of a kindhearted but poor broom maker. The broom maker has a brother who is a rich but evil goldsmith.
The twin sons eat the heart and liver of a bird; now when they wake up in the morning, there will be two pieces of gold under their pillow. Their father is told by his envious brother this means they’ve become allied with the devil; so, with a heavy heart, the broom maker leads his twin sons out into the forest and abandons them. The boys try to find their way home, but a huntsman finds them and questions what they are doing in the forest. The twins explain their story and the huntsman adopts them. He saves their gold pieces for them and teaches them to hunt.
When the now young men prove themselves to be expert huntsmen, their foster father gives them the gold they have saved up and a magic knife. If the brothers ever part, they can drive the knife into the tree where they part. The knife rusts on one side if one of the brothers dies, so the brothers can always know if the other is alive. With this gift, the twins go out into the world to go on adventures.
Eventually, the brothers start to get hungry in the woods. They come across a hare and nearly shoot it, but the hare gives them two baby hares instead. Unable to kill the beautiful baby hares, the brothers look for something else to hunt. This happens again with a fox, a wolf, a bear, and a lion.
Now the brothers have ten baby animals and no food. The baby animals lead the brothers to a nearby village, where they can buy food for themselves and their new pets. The twin brothers travel together for a while before deciding to part ways. They stab a nearby tree in case they should ever want to meet again.
One brother arrives at a town decorated with black crepe. Upon visiting the inn, he asks for a place for his pets and asks why the town was in mourning. The innkeeper provides a stable for the huntsman’s animals and tells him the princess of the kingdom is going to be fed to the dragon. The dragon demands a virgin sacrifice every year or he’ll destroy the entire kingdom, and all of the kingdom’s maidens have already been sacrificed. Many knights have tried to slay the dragon, but they have all been killed. The king promises his daughter’s hand in marriage to anyone who can kill the dragon.
The next morning, the huntsman and his animals go to the dragon’s hill, where there is a small church. Inside the church are three small cups with the inscription “Whoever can empty these cups will become the strongest man on earth, and can lift the sword from the ground.”
The huntsman empties the cups so he can lift the sword. Meanwhile, the princess is going up the hill to her death, and the court marshal is watching from a distance. The huntsman locks the princess in the church and beheads the dragon as the animals tear its body to shreds.
The huntsman goes back for the princess, who’s impressed and grateful that she’s been saved from the dragon. She divides her necklace and gives the pieces to the animals and gives the huntsman her handkerchief, which he uses to preserve the dragon’s tongues.
Now he’s sleepy, and the princess is sleepy, so they decide to fall asleep on the hill. So nothing surprises him in his sleep, the huntsman tells the lion to watch over them. The lion agrees, but delegates the task to the bear, who delegates it to the wolf, who delegates it to the fox, who delegates it to the hare, until everyone’s asleep. The court marshal uses this opportunity to behead the huntsman in his sleep, and threatens to kill the princess unless she agrees to say it was the marshal who killed the dragon. She agrees, but also refuses to marry him for a year and a day, just in case her huntsman comes back for her.
The animals wake up and find their master is dead, and they all blame the rabbit, who claims to know a root that can resurrect him, but it’s two hundred hours away. The lion tells the hare to make the journey and get the root in twenty four hours, and the hare complies. The lion puts the head back on the huntsman and the hare places the root in his mouth. The huntsman awakes and thinks the princess must have killed him in his sleep.
The huntsman is depressed over the loss of his princess and travels with his animals, making them dance for people. After a year, he arrives at his princess’s kingdom once again, and the kingdom is decorated with red crepe. He asks the innkeeper what this means, and the innkeeper tells the huntsman that the marshal, who had killed the dragon, was to be married to the princess the next day.
The huntsman ultimately reveals himself to the court; the princess is elated her true saviour and love is back. He tells everyone what the marshal did and the marshal is then beheaded. He can’t come back to life, he’s evil.
The young couple live in happily married bliss until the huntsman/young King hears about a haunted forest and decides to check it out. He ends up at a witch’s house, turned into a rock statue along with his animals. His queen misses him but then his twin brother shows up. She mistakes him for his brother and adores him. The brother is creeped out by this and places his sword between them in bed so she stays on her side.
The huntsman goes to look for his kingly brother and comes across the witch’s house. He shoots her and frees his brother and pets; everyone rejoices. They catch up as they walk back to the castle and the huntsman learns his brother is the king and married to that young Queen who had been all over him the previous night. He says this to his brother, who beheads him for sleeping with his wife.
He realises his tiny mistake and revives his brother with the same root he had been revived with. They all live happily ever after.