This thesis explores the significance of the modifications Engelbert Humperdinck and his librettist Adelheid Wette made to the Grimm's version of "Hansel and Gretel" in the opera Hänsel and Gretel. I first examine how the role of the children transforms from a largely inactive one to a more labor-intensive one as a comment on child labor. Second, I investigate how the dramatic change in the leadership, along with the change in the profession of the father, comment on an emancipatory role for women and criticize traditional patriarchal power. Finally, I analyze how the addition of pedagogical and religious themes converts the opera into a didactic tool. All these themes - child labor, gender and pedagogical function - ultimately create a discourse about how children deserve a childhood free of abuse and adult anxiety, a childhood that equally educates both genders, and a childhood that instills confidence and religious faith in the child.