There is a clear moral to the story which is also a continuing theme throughout the play: ‘The Importance of Keeping Promises'. The concept first appears shown at the outset of the play with the boy and girl. The boy is reluctantly having a picnic lunch with his sister, and she reminds him that he ‘promised'. The consequence of breaking a promise is also illustrated in the Pied Piper's response to the townsfolk refusing to pay the agreed fee for freeing the town of its rat plague. He charms the children away in the same way that he charms the rats away from the town. This is both an ironic and serious consequence.
Images of the Poem
Browning's poem The Pied Piper of Hamelin offers many wonderful visual images. In order to better understand the meaning of poetry, it is often helpful for students to take these words and make images with them. The following quotes from the poem are suggested ideas for getting students to make freeze frames, movement pieces and images in general that reflect the poetry.
…Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,
Grave old Plodders, gay young friskers…
…There was a rustling that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds jostling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping and little tongues chattering…
‘…Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew
‘And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
‘And everything was strange and new…'
So, Willy, let me and you be wipers
Of scores out with all men – especially pipers!
And, whether they pipe us free from rats or from mice,
If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise!