Like in so many other folk tales the theme of the evil step mother pals a prominent role in how the story unfolds. Though Hansel and Gretel's stepmother is not the pure evil derivative, like in other stories such as Cinderella, she nonetheless exhibits the trait of caring little for offspring who are not her own. Rather than go a little hungry she was willing to abandon her stepchildren completely just for a few meager extra rations of bread. Granted that in times of desperation one thinks of oneself first and puts all others, even family members, second, she should have still felt that children then women are the pecking order for need of survival.
With nobody but a weak willed father to plead their case to Hansel and Gretel were forced to relegate themselves to being dropped off in the wild woods and being given solemn promises that they would be picked up after their parents were finished chopping wood.
Two major motifs are brought up with this one action, one being the promise that is never meant to be kept, and the second of the seep and scary woods were anything is possible.
Promises play a vital role in the eventual happy ending of Hansel and Gretel. If Hansela and Gretel had not promised to be good and stay in one place while their parents pretended to chop wood then they would have never been forced to find the witches house and be able to loot her treasure. Promises allow the characters to further the story by having the promises always backfire and create more strife.
So many folktales take place in deep dark woods. The aura of mystery allows anything to be lurking in the wood and because they are deep nobody knows about the evils lurking until it is too late. The woods play the perfect backdrop for the evils to come out of and innocent curious children to lurk in asking for potential trouble.
Aesop's The Miser brings about the motif of putting all of our eggs in one basket and hoping that the basket will thrive. Like the Prince in Cinderella the miser put all his life's happiness and success in one inanimate object. The prince used the glass slipper and the miser had the lump of coal.