About Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was born in Denmark in a poor family. Interestingly, his father loved books and encouraged Hans Christian to compose fairy tales. At an early age, the author had to start working at a factory to support his family, but then his poetry gained some success in the theater, and he was asked to write plays. After some years, Hans Christian Andersen received a diploma and started traveling around the world, where he met many prominent writers.
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One of the most famous books by Hans Christian Andersen is Fairy Tales and Stories that he started writing in 1835 and finished in 1872. At first, he used folk stories for his fairy tales, but most of his stories are original. Hans Christian Andersen used symbols and metaphors in his fairy tales to teach about life and moral standards. Many of his tales reveal some miserable memories of the author’s childhood.
The plot and characters in The Snow Queen and The Little Match-Seller
Many of Andersen’s stories have a little girl as the main character. However, the characters, settings, plot, and morality of the tales vary. There are two interesting main characters to compare in two famous fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen: The Snow Queen and The Little Match-Seller. Both little girls, Gerda in The Snow Queen and a little girl with no name in The Little Match-Seller, face some troubles and overcome hardships but in a very different way.
Firstly, they have a different background. Gerda lives in a beautiful place with a garden, she has got parents and a friend fellow Kai, “there lived two little children, who had a garden somewhat larger than a flower-pot”, and “their parents lived exactly opposite.” (Andersen 381). On the contrary, the little maiden has neither a safe place to live, nor loving parents around, “from her father she would certainly get blows, and at home, it was cold too, for above her she had only the roof, through which the wind whistled, even though the largest cracks were stopped up with straw and rags” (Andersen 179). Interestingly, both girls have a loving and caring grandmother whom they love.
Secondly, the description of Gerda’s adventures is bright, colorful, and exciting. Even when she is cold and lost, there are people and animals helping her out, “don’t you see how men and animals are forced to serve her; how well she gets through the world barefooted?” (Andersen 389). In contrast, the little maiden is described as a lonely and miserable creature, as “she crept along trembling with cold and hunger–a very picture of sorrow, the poor little thing!” (Andersen 179). Although both girls are portrayed barefooted, the tone of their description is staggeringly different.
Finally, the end of the stories sets the girls far from apart. We see a happy end for Gerda who found her friend and overcame all the obstacles, “there sat the two grown-up persons; grown-up, and yet children; children at least in heart; and it was summer-time; summer, glorious summer!” (Andersen 394) As to the little maiden, we find her “frozen to death on the last evening of the old year” at the end of the story (Andersen 182).
In my opinion, these two fairy tales reflect the author’s view of life and writing style. The Snow Queen is full of real characters and animals willing to help a central character, and there are bright and funny adventures, traveling and happy end like in a true fairy tale. I think this was an imaginary world of Hans Christian Andersen to which he escaped while experiencing hardships of real life. Furthermore, The Little Match-Seller reflects painful and miserable days of the author’s childhood when he had to work to support his family.
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That is where the fairy tale ends, and the real-life begins. However, even in The Little Match-Seller, the girl managed to escape to a happy imaginary world. Thus, I believe that fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen like other books or films, or any other form of art represent an escape of a person to an imaginary world of beauty and happiness.
Andersen, Hans Christian n.d., Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen. Web.