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 Aug. 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 August 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 August 14, 2018. 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 August 14, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Fairy-Tales-of-Hans-Christian-Andersen-Selected/.

Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen (Selected) | The Snow Man | Summary

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Summary

The snow man is determined to stick around as long as possible, despite the fact he has no idea he isn't the most important being in the world. Even worse, he falls in love inappropriately: he has been able to look inside a home nearby and sees a stove with the same general shape as his. Based on this, the snow man thinks himself in love with the stove.

The snow man's main source of information on all points is the watchdog, who tells him once upon a time he was a cute puppy, loved and spoiled in the house and able to stay near the warm stove all winter long. But now that he's grown to a large size and once bit one of the children of the house, the grown watchdog is left outside to bark and lose his voice. No one pets him or is concerned for his well-being anymore. All good things one has in youth come quickly to an end, he says, leaving one to a dark and lonely adulthood.

The end of the snow man comes when the weather grows warm and he melts, leaving behind the stove rake that had served as his support. The story ends with no one giving a thought to the snow man ever again.

Analysis

In this story Andersen reminds himself and his audience through the character of the watchdog the state of being loved and cherished is transient. Eventually every child grows up, sometimes to become as awkward and unattractive as Andersen believed himself to have been. The story's other theme, the destructive force of longing for an impossible love, is probably a wry comment on Andersen's several disastrous episodes of falling in love with unattainable young women.

The reference to the watchdog losing his voice echoes Andersen's keen embarrassment at having lost his childlike singing voice when it changed in adolescence. Andersen writes "my voice broke, or was injured, in consequence of my being compelled to wear bad shoes through the winter, and having besides no warm underclothing." His singing master at the Copenhagen Theater, Mr. Siboni, advised Andersen to return home to Odense and take up a trade.

The inability of the snow man to appreciate each day of winter he has to enjoy is echoed in another of Andersen's tales, "The Fir Tree." The tree also fails to appreciate its brief season of life and meets its natural end in the spring. The dark and abrupt ending to these tales is one frequently used by Andersen to express a truth polite society tends to avoid—that once gone, everyone is forgotten.

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