The earliest known version of the Rumpelstiltskin story was published sometime between 1575 – 1590 by Johann Fischart (Source 8). The earlier versions of this story such as Tom Tit Tot, Whuppity Stoorie, Tyrolese, and others, tell a tale of a power struggle between a higher force and a vulnerable person. This power struggle always ends in a consequence, whether death or the loss of something special. These stories revolve around a name or a deal in which the dark, higher force aims to come out on top and ends up losing. .
These variations of the story are old but follow a distinct pattern. A young person, usually a girl, is in trouble with no way out. Her task is too great, the expectations too high, etc. she becomes desperate, for if she can complete this task she may have what she desires, usually marriage to a king. The Rumpelstiltskin character offers help to the girl in exchange for a gift which he/she will return for later. This gift is precious to her. In most versions it is her firstborn child. When the deed is completed and the girl gets what she desires the Rumpelstiltskin character returns for his/her prize. The girl begs to have the deal be broken and the Rumpelstiltskin character asks her to guess his/her name before the time is up. If she succeeds the Rumpelstiltskin character will go away, if she cannot she will have to surrender the prize as promised. .
Jack Zipes, author of the article "Spinning with Fate: Rumpelstiltskin and the Decline of Female Productivity", says that naming him only bans him from the vulnerable person it does not say anything about his identity (Zipes 43-60). His identity throughout the older stories is largely a mystery. Up until the show on the ABC network, Once Upon a Time, when the character of Rumpelstiltskin is given a lead role, a personality, and a strong rooted identity. .
Once Upon a Time gave Rumpelstiltskin an identity he had never had before.