Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (Selected) | Study Guide

Hans Christian Andersen

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Course Hero. "Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (Selected) Study Guide." Course Hero. 6 Oct. 2017. Web. 14 Dec. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fairy-Tales-of-Hans-Christian-Andersen-Selected/>.

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Course Hero. (2017, October 6). Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (Selected) Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 14, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fairy-Tales-of-Hans-Christian-Andersen-Selected/

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Course Hero. "Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (Selected) Study Guide." October 6, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fairy-Tales-of-Hans-Christian-Andersen-Selected/.


Course Hero, "Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (Selected) Study Guide," October 6, 2017, accessed December 14, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fairy-Tales-of-Hans-Christian-Andersen-Selected/.

Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (Selected) | Little Ida's Flowers | Summary



When Little Ida asks the visiting student why her flowers look ill, he informs her they are all tired from dancing through the night at the king's palace. With this beginning, the student weaves a story about flowers that can fly. When some of them don't come back to their stems, the petals turn into butterflies. He also tells Little Ida although the flowers can't speak, they signal to each other whenever the wind blows. The story is interrupted by the prosy councilor, who doesn't like the student, his silly imagination, and his way of idling away his time cutting out strange paper figures. Ida collects her wilting flowers and places them in her doll's bed. Then she watches them come to life and dance all night long. In the morning she finds them quite dead.


In his biographical notes, Andersen states this story originated in comments made by Ida Thiele, the young daughter of the Danish poet J.M. Thiele (1795–1874). The student is a thinly disguised double of Andersen himself—an itinerant social outsider with the heart of a child who enchants children left out of adult conversations with fantastic explanations beyond the realm of empirical experience. As he does in many other tales, Andersen gently reminds his readers that flowers—like people—are short-lived, whether they dance for joy or scowl in disapproval.

Andersen embodies the stern disapproval of fantasy in the prosy councilor, who is transformed in Ida's dream into a tiny and insignificant wax figure. In other stories Andersen dismisses the voices of science and reason by linking them with such impotent characters as the portrait of Hajmar's great-grandfather in "Ole Lukoie." The student, on the other hand, delights Little Ida by providing convincing details of how different flowers might behave if they were to hold a dance party.

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