Tag Archives: pied piper

The German Story of the Pied Piper

Transcribed Text:

“Well basically what happened is there was a town, in somewhere in Germany, that was infested by rats. And, uh, they had this huge rat problem. And they were like “oh crap, what are we going to do about this?” So they hired this man, (audience member mines a piper), yeah exactly, who um, who enchanted the rats by playing his, uh..whatever his piper or something like that. And all the rats follow him out of the city. And, um, so the town never paid him. And, uh, he got super pissed, so, during the night one night, he came back, and he enchanted all the children of the town, uh, to follow him out and that was their uh, punishment.”

The informant is a student at the University of Southern California and says that she has German heritage through her mother and grandparents. She learned of this story from her grandparents and says that it is a good story to teach people about karma and owing up to people. This piece of märchen uses the typical points, where there is a moral story in the end. It is clear to all audience members as well as the informant that this story does not contain real characters that existed at one point, but is of a made up fantasy realm where a piper can enchant rats and humans to do his bidding.

This piece of märchen is normally performed in a family setting from an adult to a child, according to the informant. It is usually told by a parent or grandparent to a young child to teach the lesson of being honest and and fair, so that one won’t be punished. This piece of folklore has also been found published by the Grimm brothers, and they tell a very similar version, though theirs have a lot more concentration on the motifs of the story, rather than the vague version the informant gave. It is obvious that the informant is not normally an active bearer of this story, as she tells it without much detail and with only general knowledge on the overarching themes and plot line.

Annotation: This story has been adapted into a film called “The Pied Piper” in 1972, directed by Jacques Demy.


My informant told me about the urban legend of Slenderman, who is a tall, lanky man with extra long limbs that wears a black suit. Slenderman has no face and is very reminiscent of the men in black. The legend of Slenderman is very interesting because he is always seen around children and then after that the children will disappear. The way that she found out about Slenderman was through a youtube series by a channel named Marble Hornets. In the videos, the kid that created the channel explains that his roommate had increasingly gotten crazier while making a student film he called Marble Hornets. While making the film he would get very temperamental and one day he said he was transferring schools and told his friend to burn all the reels of his film. The kid did not what was going on and since he felt bad about throwing away the film reels, he kept them and did not watch them until months after his roommate had left. When they finally watched the reels, the kid realized there were no shots of the Marble Hornets movie, it was all short clips of his roommate; there were also sound clips of heavy breathing. In certain clips, they supposedly see Slenderman and realize that the kid’s roommate feels like he is being followed or haunted.

This youtube series, though fictional, introduced the legend of Slenderman to the mass public. No one actually knows where the idea of Slenderman came from, but there are many pictures online where he is supposedly in the background lurking around. And then, the kids in the photographs have been said to have mysteriously disappeared. Nowadays, my roommate and I often kid around that Slenderman causes the mysterious mishaps in our lives, like lights flickering or mysterious texts that we receive. It seems that ghost stories are always so popular in our modern society. I think that the reason the Slenderman legend might have been made was to scare children into staying with their parents and keeping safe. Supposedly, Slenderman has a hypnotic effect on children like the Pied Piper and kidnaps them that way. If we pair that similarity then with his Men in Black physicality, it is almost like a satirical myth about the secret government and Area 51, a tall man capturing children.

Annotation/Additional Comments: These are current sources for information on Slenderman: http://www.mythicalcreaturesguide.com/page/Slender+Man, http://www.youtube.com/user/MarbleHornets?feature=watch: Marble Hornets is probably the most well known sharer of the Slenderman legend. The Slenderman legend started out from nowhere, but is now so widespread that there are tumblrs and twitter accounts dedicated to him.