Do the titles ”The Little Mermaid” and ”The Ugly Duckling” ring a bell? Or were you more fascinated by the beautiful princess who felt a tiny pea through 20 mattresses and 20 feather beds?
Normally when I mentioned the Danish town Odense, foreign people did not know it – but after a while I realized that if I just tell them that I was born in the city of H.C. Andersen, Europeans, the Chinese, Africans as well as Americans citizens say “oh, Hans Christian Andersen, I know him!” Somehow his fairy tales always cast a spell on the readers and listeners no matter if they are boys, girls, from the East or West.
Common for many of H.C. Andersen’s fairy tales is the fact, that the characters are unhappy: A poor, freezing girl sitting alone in the street on New Years Eve (The Little Match Girl), a duckling excluded from the group because he looks different than the other ducklings (The Ugly Duckling) and a one legged soldier getting swallowed by a fish and thereafter thrown to a fire (The Steadfast Tin Soldier). The reason for the fairy tales to be so popular might be that most people, as well children as adults, might somehow be able to identify with the feelings of the characters – I guess we all have had the feeling of being alone, different than the others or in love with someone who we can’t get. Probably small kids who listen to their parents or grandparents reading the fairy tales are not conscious about these kinds of feelings yet – but somehow it might affect and gratify them to realize that even an ugly duckling, a lonely girl in the street and a soldier with one leg and awful experiences in the end get happy. This is another important and common fact from the fairy tales – the ending is always happy, and who doesn’t love happy endings?
The fairy tales of H.C. Andersen seem to be timeless and though he moved to Copenhagen in 1819, his native town, Odense, is proud of reminding everybody of our great writer. Besides his house and a museum his popularity is obvious from sculptures of himself and his characters around in the city – and as an extra feature: some of the traffic lights do not show a “normal” green/red man but a man with a distinctive hat: The portrait of Hans Christian Andersen.
Which of the following H.C. Andersen fairy tales is your favourite?
- The Ugly Duckling
- The Little Mermaid
- The Little Match Girl
- The Steadfast Tin Soldier
Total Voters: 6