“The Princess on the Pea” is one of the shortest and most well-known classic fairy-tales, and its plot may seem quite simple to some. I believe that there are two ways to answer the question why it was so important for the royal family to find a “real princess”. First, at the time when the tale was written, it could be extremely difficult to prove that one is of royal blood, and many women may have claimed to be. That is why great importance is put on identifying if the princess is “real” (“Hans Christian Andersen: The princess on the pea,” n.d.). Second way to see it is as a mockery of the royal family’s oversensitivity and their tendency to be bothered by things that common people would not even think about. That way, the family’s determination to find a “real princess” is just their desire to find the one that is an aristocrat, as they are.
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Apart from the interpretations described above, the idea that Andersen might have wished to teach his audience is that no one can hide their true self, and that looks can be deceptive. When the Princess first appears at the town gate, the Prince’s mother does not believe she is a “real princess”, and only after her “test”, the truth is revealed.
Several symbols are used in the story to convey those messages. For example, matrasses might be the layers that society puts on the person, and the pea might symbolize true identity still showing, despite those restrictions. The characters act in the same manner: the Prince, for example, can easily see that all princesses he had met when he was searching for the one were not “real”. The plot itself also focuses on revealing that our true selves will always be seen.