Courses for Kids
Free study material
Offline Centres
Store Icon

The Fisherman and His Wife Story for Kids

share icon
share icon

Introduction to the Fisherman and His Wife

The Brothers Grimm compiled the German fairy tale "The Fisherman and His Wife" (Low German: Von dem Fischer un syner Fru) in 1812. (KHM 19). The story is about unhappiness and greed, and it is of the Aarne–Thompson type 555. It's possible that it's an anti-fairy tale. The Brothers Grimm included the story as tale no. 19 in the first edition of Kinder- und Hausmärchen in 1812. Philipp Otto Runge (1777–1810) was a German painter from whom the Grimms got a manuscript of the story in 1809. In 1812, Johann Gustav Büsching published a revised version of Runge's manuscript in Volkswagen, Märchen und Legenden, which differed from Grimm's version in some ways.

The Fisherman and His Wife Story

There was once a fisherman who shared a dingy little shack with his wife near the sea. He went fishing every day, and he fished and fished until, one day, he felt something on his line while sitting deep down in the beautiful water. There was a huge flounder on the end of the line as he brought it up. A fisherman caught a fish that turned out to be rather unusual. It claims that it is an enchanted prince who will not taste good, thus it is best to be set free. The fisherman was taken aback by the talking fish and let it go after a while. When he returned to his impoverished house, he told his wife about his capture.

The fisherman then stood up and returned to his wife in the hovel. "Have you caught anything today, husband?" she inquired.

"I only got one flounder," the guy explained, "and he claimed to be an enchanted prince, so I let him go swim again."

"Did you not make any wishes then?" enquired the nice wife.  "What was there to desire for?" the guy said.

She stated that the fish should express thanks. If it could talk, it may be able to grant certain desires. There could, for example, have a better place to live. The fisherman was not overjoyed, but he returned to the shoreline and summoned the fish.

He held firm in his convictions, saying:

“Flounder, flounder in the sea, 

Pray, listen to me:

My wife, Ilsebil,

will have her own way 

Whatever I wish, whatever I say.” 

"Well, what do you want?" replied the flounder as he approached.

"Alas!" the guy said, "I had to contact you since my wife said I should have wished for anything because I caught you." “She no longer wants to dwell in our filthy shack; she wants a lovely villa."

His request was granted thanks to the fish. They were given a nice home, and the fisherman was overjoyed. His wife, on the other hand, desired more. Her husband was moved back to the seaside, and their situation improved even more.

The Fisherman and his wife

The Fisherman and his wife

They were given a large castle, and she rose through the ranks to become a queen and then a pope. Her husband returned to the sea time and time again, and the water grew darker and more ferocious with each visit. The fish became increasingly grumpy, yet the wishes continued to come true. Even so, it wasn't enough. She insisted on becoming a deity. She desired to command the rising and setting of the Sun and Moon.

He discovered a magnificent cathedral surrounded by mansions. He pushed his way through the crowd and discovered hundreds upon thousands of lights, as well as his wife, who was dressed fully in gold and sat on a yet higher throne, wearing three golden crowns on her head and surrounded by priestly priests. There were two rows of candles on either side of her, the tallest as tall as a tower and the smallest as small as a taper. Kings and emperors prostrated themselves in front of her, kissing her shoe.

"Wife, are you now Pope?" the guy said, his gaze falling on her.

"Yes," she said, "I am now Pope." As he stood there staring at her, it was as if he were staring at the Sun.

"Alas, wife, are you better off becoming pope?" he said. She sat still at first, as rigid as aboard. "Now, wife, be pleased with being pope; higher you cannot go," he urged.

"I'll think about it," the woman said, and they both went to bed. She was still unsatisfied, and she couldn't sleep because of her excessive urges. The guy slept easily and soundly since he had walked a lot during the day, but his wife couldn't stop thinking about how much more grandeur she might demand. When the sky began to redden with the morning, she got out of bed and peered out the window, and when she saw the Sun rising, she said:

“Ha! Is it possible for me to make the Sun and Moon rise? Wake up and go to the flounder, husband!" she shouted, driving her elbow into his side. "I shall be the universe's lord."

"Husband, if I can't be master of the universe and command the setting and rising of the Sun and Moon, I won't be able to stand it," she stated. "There will never be another pleasant moment in my life." A tremor ran through him as she gazed at him with such vigour.

"Unfortunately, wife," he continued, kneeling in front of her, "the flounder can't do that." He can make an emperor and a pope, but that is beyond him. I beseech you to keep your cool and stay Pope." Then she exploded in a fit of wrath. "I won't tolerate it any longer; will you go?" she yelled, her hair standing on end, panting for breath.

Then, like a lunatic, he yanked on his trousers and tore away. He could scarcely hold his balance as the storm raged around him; homes and trees quivered and shook, mountains trembled, and rocks rolled into the water. The sky was pitch black, thundering and lightning as the water rolled in black waves, mountains high and crowned with white foam. He shouted, but his voice was hardly audible:

“Flounder, flounder in the sea, 

Pray, listen to me:

My wife, Ilsebil,

will have her own way 

Whatever I wish, whatever I say.” 

"What does she want now?" inquired the flounder.

"Unfortunately," he explained, "she wishes to be Lord of the Universe."

"Now she must return to her old shack," the flounder explained, "and you will find her there."

When the fish learned about this, it sent the fishermen back home, claiming that they had gotten what they had previously. They were still in the same run-down shack they were in when the fish was captured.

Moral of the Story

The lesson of the narrative is rather self-evident. You'll never be happy no matter how many of your desires come true if you can't find enjoyment in the things you currently have. Because his wife was so selfish, the fisherman's supposedly decent heart was not enough to make him happy.


The fisherman's wife story is a folktale about a wife who begs her husband to do the unimaginable. After he caught a miraculous fish, she begged him to let her live. She offered him three wishes because he was generous and fulfilled her request. He let her swim away since the fisherman was disinterested in her. The lady finally wishes to rule the Sun, Moon, and heavens, and she sends her husband to the coast with the desire of "becoming equal to God." Instead of complying, the flounder just tells the fisherman to go home, noting that "she is sitting in her old hovel again."

Want to read offline? download full PDF here
Download full PDF
Is this page helpful?
Courses for kids
English Superstar
Grade LKG - 2
Maths Classes
Grade 1 - 2
Spoken English
Grade 3 - 5

FAQs on The Fisherman and His Wife Story for Kids

1. Which term best defines the wife of a fisherman?

The best term to characterise the fisherman's wife is greedy. The Fisherman and His Wife is a German fairy tale that can be found in the Brothers Grimm collection.

2. What happened to the fisherman and his wife in the end?

The wife eventually demands too much. She asks to be like God after being made emperor and pope. When the fisherman requests for this on behalf of his wife, the air is filled with thunder, and the fisherman and his wife are returned to their little hut, their wealth and power forever gone.