The Plot of a typical Folktale


At the start of a typical folktale, something magical happens:

The character has a problem, but something magical appears to solve it,


The character was doing fine, but an evil magical something appears to cause problems.

In the Middle of a typical folktale, something happens three times:

A hero faces three challenges,


Three different characters (often siblings) each face the same challenge.

The End of a typical folktale: the main character becomes rich & evil one is often killed.



Jack and the Beanstalk

Jack is starving, but gets the magic beans.

Jack must steal three items from the giantís castle,

The giant falls to his death; Jack becomes rich.



Cinderella canít go to the ball, but meets her fairy godmother.

Cinderella and her two step-sisters each try the shoe.

Cinderella marries the prince (and in some versions, the sisters are killed).



The tailorís daughter canít turn straw into gold, but Rumplestilskin (who can) appears.

The tailorís daughter gets three attempts to guess Rumplestilskinís name.

Rumplestilskin dies in a fit of rage; the Tailorís daughter marries the king.


Three Billy Goats Gruff

The three goats find a troll under the bridge who blocks their way.

Each of the three billy goats must face the troll under the bridge.

The Troll dies by falling off the bridge.


Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood meets the wolf.

Little Red riding Hood puts three questions to the wolf.

The wolf is killed by the woodsman


Three Little Pigs

The three pigs build their houses, but the wolf appears.

Each of the three pigs faces the wolf within each of their houses.

The wolf falls into the pigís fire.


Hansel & Gretel

Hansel and Gretel are starving, but find a house made out of food.


The witch is pushed into a fire; Hansel and Gretel have food.


The Three Bears

Goldilocks is lost in the woods but finds the bearsí house.

Goldilocks tries three sets of three things: Porridge, chairs and beds.

Goldilocks escapes.



Other elements often found in Folktales:

Magic sleep

Snow White, Sleeping Beauty,

Talking animals

Three Billy Goats Gruff, Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, Three Pigs