Rumpelstiltskin is a tragedy about a significantly deformed little man with mysterious magic powers who believes that he is hideous and unlovable. He really only wants one thing in life: unconditional love.
Every day he sits in a tree and watches Gretchen and her father, Miller, as they go about their daily routine. He longs for their relationship and decides that the only path to true love is to have a child.
One day the King approaches them, and a misleading boast leads him to believe that Gretchen can spin straw into gold. The greedy King locks her in a room filled with straw and a spinning wheel. He threatens that if she does not complete the task, she will be put to death, but if she succeeds, she will be his bride.
The little man helps Gretchen, and in exchange, extracts a promise that she will give him her firstborn child. True and unconditional love is finally within his grasp!
The little man takes pity on Gretchen: He allows her to guess his name in exchange for her to keep the child. However there are terrible consequences from speaking his name out loud. This is the true tragedy of the story.
Gretchen and Miller are in the woods gathering food and firewood as they are observed by a deformed little man hiding in the trees.
Gretchen is sitting at a spinning wheel in a room filled with straw, lamenting her fate. The little man appears with an offer of help, and an ultimatum.
The little man appears to claim his prize. Gretchen has second thoughts because she loves her child too much. The hideous little man gives her a way out; she can keep her child only if she can guess his name.
The King and Miller are out on the castle grounds coming back from a morning of hunting. They spy the little man doing an odd dance and singing a strange song that reveals his name: Rumpelstiltskin.
Gretchen prepares for confrontation after her father and the King shared what they witnessed in the forest. The confrontation does not go as planned, and Rumpelstiltskin perishes.
The baby undergoes a magical transformation as Gretchen and Miller meet their doom.