About Marie Stahlbaum
I'm Marie Stalhbaum, the heroine of ETA Hoffman's children's classic, The Nutcracker & The Mouse King.
When I was seven years old, my godfather gave me a nutcracker for Christmas. What I didn't know was that the nutcracker was really his own nephew, transformed by the curse of the evil queen Madame Mouserinks.
I was able to help him throw off the curse by helping him defeat the queen's son, and afterward he took me to his kingdom, the Land of Sweets.
Differences between the book and ballet
The Nutcracker ballet debuted in 1892, but the original book by ETA Hoffman was published in 1816.
In ETA Hoffman's book, the heroine is named Marie Stahlbaum. The ballet renamed her to Clara.
In the book, Marie is the youngest of three children, with a brother named Fritz and a sister named Louise. Most ballet adaptations make Fritz younger than Marie and leave out Louise entirely.
The Sugarplum Fairy was invented for the ballet. In fact, while the book mentions several sweets by name (including marzipan, gingerbread, and chocolate), sugarplums are never mentioned at all.
The ballet has a simple plot in which Clara receives a nutcracker for Christmas. That night, she dreams that her nutcracker fights off an army of evil mice and that he takes her to the Land of Sweets where she watches many exotic dancers in the prince's palace, only to wake up and realize that it was all a dream. The original story is much more complicated. Marie finds her nutcracker fighting an evil mouse army, but it's no dream. The battle ends in a draw when Marie throws her shoe at the king, and Marie is injured when she falls against the glass-fronted toy cabinet. While she's in recovery, her godfather tells her the story of how the nutcracker came to be. After that, the mouse king torments her by threatening to chew the Nutcracker up unless she surrenders her toys and candy to him (which she does). Later the Nutcracker defeats him, and Marie finally goes to the Land of Sweets. After taking the grand tour, she is taken home. The nutcracker prince, now restored to his true form, later comes for her and asks for her hand in marriage. Finally he takes her to his kingdom, the Land of Dolls, and they live happily ever after.
While most of the ballet takes place in The Land of Dolls, the book spends exactly two out of fourteen chapters there.