Literary and Visual Expression of Dual Descent in Iron Hans

By: Mary A. Bricker

Abstract: My essay concerns the literary and visual expression of the archetype dual descent in North American children’s remakes of the Brothers Grimms’ tale, Iron Hans. The
remakes were published within a fourteen-year span following Robert Bly’s bestseller, Iron John: A Book About Men (1990). Bly’s study of the Grimms’ wild man material examines the importance of the character’s function as a superhuman second father to the prince, who thus becomes of dual descent. My intent in writing this article is to examine the contemporary expression of Jung’s archetypes dual descent and the wild man. Relatedly, I demonstrate Bly’s contribution is valued alongside the Grimms’ tale within the contemporary children’s literary scene. The children’s authors I examine do not give any indication Bly’s interpretation is contradictory to the Grimms’ tales, as alleged in fairy tale scholarship. All four prominently reference the Brothers Grimm on the cover or within the inside jacket.