The Fisherman and His Wife Short Story


Once upon a time, there was a poor fisherman who lived with his wife in a pigsty close to the sea. One day, while fishing, the fisherman caught a flounder, who surprisingly spoke to him.

“Pray, let me live! I am not a real fish but an enchanted prince,” the flounder begged.

Startled, the fisherman kindly replied, “Go, then; you are no good to me if you can talk.”

When the fisherman returned home and recounted his strange encounter, his wife was unsatisfied. “Go back and tell the flounder we want a nice little cottage,” she demanded.

The fisherman was hesitant but complied. Returning to the sea, he called, “Flounder, flounder in the sea, come, I pray thee, here to me; for my wife, good Ilsabill, wills not as I’d have her will.”

The flounder appeared and granted his wish. The fisherman returned to find a lovely cottage in place of the pigsty. For a while, they were content.

However, the wife soon grew restless and sent him back to ask the flounder for a grand castle. The fisherman protested, but he eventually gave in and asked the flounder, who again granted the wish.

Now living in luxury, the wife grew more and more ambitious. She sent the fisherman to ask the flounder to make her a king, then an emperor, and finally, a pope. Each time, the fisherman hesitantly went to the sea and the flounder granted the wishes.

Finally, the wife demanded to become like God, to control the sun and the moon. The fisherman went to the sea, trembling, and said, “My wife wants to be like God.”

The flounder replied, “Go home. She is sitting in her old pigsty again.”

And when the fisherman went home, he found his wife back in the filthy pigsty, where they remained for the rest of their lives, learning that greed and discontent only lead to ruin.

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Also Read: Iron Hans Fairy Tale

Follow Up Questions

Here are three simple questions you can ask kids about “The Fisherman and His Wife”:

Why do you think the fisherman’s wife kept asking for more wishes even after she got a nice house?

How do you think the fisherman felt each time he had to go back and ask the fish for more?

If you were the fisherman and found the talking fish, what would you have done differently in the story?

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