Old Rinkrank Commentary
It is rare in fairy tales that a princess is permitted to stand up and say she will undergo an ordeal with the one attempting to win her hand, and be there to catch him if he should fall, at least in the bold manner in which it happens in this tale. Which is one reason this tale is interesting. And also interesting that such a strong woman then undergoes the trial herself of falling (rather than her lover) and losing her identity.
I have left behind the royalty aspect, instead having the tale concerning plain people. I emphasize the time of the glass mountain's construction being when the woman is growing up. There are many puzzling details as regards the structural relationship of subterranean cavern and the glass mountain that I have left alone, considering it is best not to even begin to reason them out on paper, just let the subconscious play with them, with the exception of the long ribbon which the woman uses to aid in her liberation at the tale's end. She has been taken hostage by a troll who has a long beard which pointedly continues to grow and grow, and as I was thinking about that very long ribbon by which she frees herself, it occurred to me that the ribbon didn't appear of its own accord, it is something she would have had to make, probably over all these years she is in captivity. Then it occurred to me similarities to the tale of Rapunzel, and I decided the ribbon should be a hair ribbon.
Most tales in which there is a long period of separation attempt to offer a reason for which, when lovers are reconciled at the end, it seems as if no years have passed. No reason is offered here and a possible reading is that all that has occurred underground, in the glass mountain, has only occupied but a few moment's worth of time up in the real world.
This fits with the formula where a person who is gone for years returns and finds they have been gone but a moment, and the person who is gone for what seems but a moment returns to discover they have been gone for a generation or two.
The man-made glass mountain is also interesting in that it certainly recalls a type of fairy mound and yet is approached on a psychological level with its being explicity constructed by the girl's father, and its relationship to her with it being constructed while she is growing up, and then being a feature into which she disappears.
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