Category Archives: Featured Fairytale Friday
~Featured Fairytale Friday~
Good evening everyone, it’s Featured Fairytale Friday (FFF) here. This is a semi-regular feature at YA Indulgences where I showcase a fairytale and then share my thoughts on it at the end. To see more FFF posts, you can go here.
The fairytale of this week is The Girl Without Hands collected by the Grimm Brothers.
A miller fell slowly but surely into poverty, until finally he had nothing more than his mill and a large apple tree which stood behind it. One day he had gone into the forest to gather wood, where he was approached by an old man, whom he had never seen before, and who said, “Why do you torment yourself with chopping wood? I will make you rich if you will promise me that which is standing behind your mill.”
“What can that be but my apple tree?” thought the miller, said yes, and signed it over to the strange man.
The latter, however, laughed mockingly and said, “I will come in three years and get what belongs to me,” then went away.
When he arrived home, his wife came up to him and said, “Miller, tell me, where did all the wealth come from that is suddenly in our house? All at once all the chests and boxes are full, and no one brought it here, and I don’t know where it came from.”
He answered, “It comes from an strange man whom I met in the woods and who promised me great treasures if I would but sign over to him that which stands behind the mill. We can give up the large apple tree for all this.”
“Oh, husband!” said the woman, terrified. “That was the devil. He didn’t mean the apple tree, but our daughter, who was just then standing behind the mill sweeping the yard.”
The miller’s daughter was a beautiful and pious girl, and she lived the three years worshipping God and without sin. When the time was up and the day came when the evil one was to get her, she washed herself clean and drew a circle around herself with chalk. The devil appeared very early in the morning, but he could not approach her.
He spoke angrily to the miller, “Keep water away from her, so she cannot wash herself any more. Otherwise I have no power over her.”
The miller was frightened and did what he was told. The next morning the devil returned, but she had wept into her hands, and they were entirely clean.
Thus he still could not approach her, and he spoke angrily to the miller, “Chop off her hands. Otherwise I cannot get to her.”
The miller was horrified and answered, “How could I chop off my own child’s hands!”
Then the evil one threatened him, saying, “If you do not do it, then you will be mine, and I will take you yourself.”
This frightened the father, and he promised to obey him. Then he went to the girl and said, “My child, if I do not chop off both of your hands, then the devil will take me away, and in my fear I have promised him to do this. Help me in my need, and forgive me of the evil that I am going to do to you.”
She answered, “Dear father, do with me what you will. I am your child,” and with that she stretched forth both hands and let her father chop them off.
The devil came a third time, but she had wept so long and so much onto the stumps, that they were entirely clean. Then he had to give up, for he had lost all claim to her.
The miller spoke to her, “I have gained great wealth through you. I shall take care of you in splendor as long as you live.”
But she answered, “I cannot remain here. I will go away. Compassionate people will give me as much as I need.”
Then she had her mutilated arms tied to her back, and at sunrise she set forth, walking the entire day until it was night. She came to a royal garden, and by the light of the moon she saw that inside there were trees full of beautiful fruit. But she could not get inside, for there it was surrounded by water.
Having walked the entire day without eating a bite, she was suffering from hunger, and she thought, “Oh, if only I were inside the garden so I could eat of those fruits. Otherwise I shall perish.”
Then she kneeled down and, crying out to God the Lord, she prayed. Suddenly an angel appeared. He closed a head gate, so that the moat dried up, and she could walk through.
She entered the garden, and the angel went with her. She saw a fruit tree with beautiful pears, but they had all been counted. She stepped up to the tree and ate from it with her mouth, enough to satisfy her hunger, but no more. The gardener saw it happen, but because the angel was standing by her he was afraid and thought that the girl was a spirit. He said nothing and did not dare to call out nor to speak to the spirit. After she had eaten the pear she was full, and she went and lay down in the brush.
The king who owned this garden came the next morning. He counted the fruit and saw that one of the pears was missing. He asked the gardener what had happened to it. It was not lying under the tree, but had somehow disappeared.
The gardener answered, “Last night a spirit came here. It had no hands and ate one of the pears with its mouth.”
The king said, “How did the spirit get across the water? And where did it go after it had eaten the pear?”
The gardener answered, “Someone dressed in snow-white came from heaven and closed the head gate so the spirit could walk through the moat. Because it must have been an angel I was afraid, and I asked no questions, and I did not call out. After the spirit had eaten the pear it went away again.”
The king said, “If what you said is true, I will keep watch with you tonight.”
After it was dark the king entered the garden, bringing a priest with him who was to talk to the spirit. All three sat down under the tree and kept watch. At midnight the girl came creeping out of the brush, stepped up to the tree, and again ate off a pear with her mouth. An angel dressed in white was standing next to her.
The priest walked up to them and said, “Have you come from God, or from the world? Are you a spirit or a human?”
She answered, “I am not a spirit, but a poor human who has been abandoned by everyone except God.”
The king said, “Even if you have been abandoned by the whole world, I will not abandon you.”
He took her home with him to his royal castle, and because she was so beautiful and pure he loved her with all his heart, had silver hands made for her, and took her as his wife.
After a year the king had to go out into the battlefield, and he left the young queen in the care of his mother, saying, “If she has a child, support her and take good care of her, and immediately send me the news in a letter.”
She gave birth to a beautiful son. The old mother quickly wrote this in a letter, giving the joyful news to the king.
Now on the way the messenger stopped at a brook to rest. Tired from his long journey, he fell asleep. Then the devil came to him. He still wanted to harm the pious queen, and he took the letter, putting in its place one that stated that the queen had brought a changeling into the world. When the king read this letter he was frightened and saddened, but nevertheless he wrote an answer that they should take good care of the queen until his return. The messenger returned with this letter, but he rested at the same place, and again fell asleep. The devil came again and placed a different letter in his bag. This letter said that they should kill the queen with her child.
The old mother was terribly frightened when she received this letter. She could not believe it, and wrote to the king again, but she got back the same answer, because each time the devil substituted a false letter. And the last letter even stated that they should keep the queen’s tongue and eyes as proof.
The old mother lamented that such innocent blood was to be shed, and in the night she had a doe killed, cut out its tongue and eyes, and had them put aside.
Then she said to the queen, “I cannot have you killed as the king has ordered, but you can no longer stay here. Go out into the wide world with your child, and never come back.”
The old mother tied the queen’s child onto her back, and the poor woman went away with weeping eyes. She came to a great, wild forest where she got onto her knees and prayed to God. Then the angel of the Lord appeared to her and led her to a small house. On it was a small sign with the words, “Here anyone can live free.”
A snow-white virgin came from the house and said, “Welcome, Queen,” then led her inside. She untied the small boy from her back, held him to her breast so he could drink, and then laid him in a beautiful made-up bed.
Then the poor woman said, “How did you know that I am a queen?”
The white virgin answered, “I am an angel, sent by God to take care of you and your child.”
She stayed in this house for seven years, and was well taken care of. And through the grace of God and her own piety her chopped-off hands grew back.
The king finally came back home from the battlefield, and the first thing he wanted to do was to see his wife and their child.
Then the old mother began to weep, saying, “You wicked man, why did you write to me that I was to put two innocent souls to death,” and she showed him the two letters that the evil one had counterfeited. Then she continued to speak, “I did what you ordered,” and showed him as proof the eyes and the tongue.
Then the king began to weep even more bitterly for his poor wife and his little son, until the old woman had mercy and said to him, “Be satisfied that she is still alive. I secretly had a doe killed and took the proofs from it. I tied your wife’s child onto her back and told her to go out into the wide world, and she had to promise never to come back here, because you were so angry with her.”
Then the king said, “I will go as far as the sky is blue, and will neither eat nor drink until I have found my dear wife and my child again, provided that in the meantime they have not died or perished from hunger.”
Then the king traveled about for nearly seven years, searching in all the stone cliffs and caves, but he did not find her, and he thought that she had perished. He neither ate nor drank during the entire time, but God kept him alive. Finally he came to a great forest, where he found a little house with a sign containing the words, ” Here anyone can live free.”
The white virgin came out, took him by the hand, led him inside, and said, “Welcome, King,” then asked him where he had come from.
He answered, “I have been traveling about for nearly seven years looking for my wife and her child, but I cannot find them.”
The angel offered him something to eat and drink, but he did not take it, wanting only to rest a little. He lay down to sleep, covering his face with a cloth.
Then the angel went into the room where the queen was sitting with her son, whom she normally called “Filled-with-Grief.”
The angel said to her, “Go into the next room with your child. Your husband has come.”
She went to where he was lying, and the cloth fell from his face.
Then she said, “Filled-with-Grief, pick up the cloth for your father and put it over his face again.”
The child picked it up and put it over his face again. The king heard this in his sleep and let the cloth fall again.
Then the little boy grew impatient and said, “Mother, dear, how can I cover my father’s face? I have no father in this world. I have learned to pray, ‘Our father which art in heaven,’ and you have said that my father is in heaven, and that he is our dear God. How can I know such a wild man? He is not my father.”
Hearing this, the king arose and asked who she was.
She said, “I am your wife, and this is your son Filled-with-Grief.”
He saw her living hands and said, “My wife had silver hands.”
She answered, “Our merciful God has caused my natural hands to grow back.”
The angel went into the other room, brought back the silver hands, and showed them to him. Now he saw for sure that it was his dear wife and his dear child, and he kissed them, and rejoiced, and said, “A heavy stone has fallen from my heart.”
Then the angel of God gave them all something to eat, and then they went back home to his old mother. There was great joy everywhere, and the king and the queen conducted their wedding ceremony once again, and they lived happily until their blessed end.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. the title stuck out to me greatly, causing me to pick it to feature in the first place. Several things stood out to me when reading The Girl Without Hands. The first is the miller. We aren’t told how he fell into poverty or for how long. It’s interesting how he was so willing to give something away to someone he doesn’t know because he’ll become rich in doing so. I can understand the desperation though to have money again. The old man who tells the miller, he’ll make him rich, reminds me of the old beggar woman in Disney’s Beauty and The Beast who promises him a rose for a place to stay. It’s unfortunate how things turned out for the miller though. I wouldn’t have guessed the old man was secretly the devil. Though a lot of fairytales do have lessons in them regarding strangers.
I think it’s both admirable and sort of alarming how the daughter is so willing to go to the devil and have her hands cut off. I think it’s crazy that the devil told the miller to cut off his daughter’s hands. That’s just insane and then actually does it so he won’t have to go with the devil himself. I don’t blame him but…still. I always wonder something about that kind of thing though, how does the person never bleed to death from having their body parts just cut off? I love how the devil eventually loses any power he had over the girl. It’s sad how she goes away, but I can completely understand it. I wouldn’t want to stay in a place where my parents would let me be taken by the devil and cut off my hands. The fact that the miller was willing to cut off his daughter’s hands, let alone actually have her be taken by the devil is so horrible. I can’t believe that.
I like how the angel shows up various times in the story and how he helped the girl. I was happy when the girl married the king, but should have known it was over yet. It’s fascinating how the devil still goes after the queen a year later. The king’s mother is really smart for cutting a sow instead of the queen and then sending her away. I felt bad for her because this is the second time she’s left to take care of herself traveling. The angel comes again though and helps her. I like how there’s the happy ending at the end as a lot of fairytales do not have those happy endings. Overall this seemed like a dark fairytale.
~Featured Fairytale Friday~
It’s Featured Fairytale Friday here at YA Indulgences. 🙂 This is a weekly feature done by me where I spotlight one fairytale and share my thoughts and any retellings I find.
Once upon a time there was little girl, pretty and dainty. But in summer time she was obliged to go barefooted because she was poor, and in winter she had to wear large wooden shoes, so that her little instep grew quite red.
In the middle of the village lived an old shoemaker’s wife; she sat down and made, as well as she could, a pair of little shoes out of some old pieces of red cloth. They were clumsy, but she meant well, for they were intended for the little girl, whose name was Karen.
Karen received the shoes and wore them for the first time on the day of her mother’s funeral. They were certainly not suitable for mourning; but she had no others, and so she put her bare feet into them and walked behind the humble coffin.
Just then a large old carriage came by, and in it sat an old lady; she looked at the little girl, and taking pity on her, said to the clergyman, “Look here, if you will give me the little girl, I will take care of her.”
Karen believed that this was all on account of the red shoes, but the old lady thought them hideous, and so they were burnt. Karen herself was dressed very neatly and cleanly; she was taught to read and to sew, and people said that she was pretty. But the mirror told her, “You are more than pretty—you are beautiful.”
One day the Queen was travelling through that part of the country, and had her little daughter, who was a princess, with her. All the people, amongst them Karen too, streamed towards the castle, where the little princess, in fine white clothes, stood before the window and allowed herself to be stared at. She wore neither a train nor a golden crown, but beautiful red morocco shoes; they were indeed much finer than those which the shoemaker’s wife had sewn for little Karen. There is really nothing in the world that can be compared to red shoes!
Karen was now old enough to be confirmed; she received some new clothes, and she was also to have some new shoes. The rich shoemaker in the town took the measure of her little foot in his own room, in which there stood great glass cases full of pretty shoes and white slippers. It all looked very lovely, but the old lady could not see very well, and therefore did not get much pleasure out of it. Amongst the shoes stood a pair of red ones, like those which the princess had worn. How beautiful they were! and the shoemaker said that they had been made for a count’s daughter, but that they had not fitted her.
“I suppose they are of shiny leather?” asked the old lady. “They shine so.”
“Yes, they do shine,” said Karen. They fitted her, and were bought. But the old lady knew nothing of their being red, for she would never have allowed Karen to be confirmed in red shoes, as she was now to be.
Everybody looked at her feet, and the whole of the way from the church door to the choir it seemed to her as if even the ancient figures on the monuments, in their stiff collars and long black robes, had their eyes fixed on her red shoes. It was only of these that she thought when the clergyman laid his hand upon her head and spoke of the holy baptism, of the covenant with God, and told her that she was now to be a grown-up Christian. The organ pealed forth solemnly, and the sweet children’s voices mingled with that of their old leader; but Karen thought only of her red shoes. In the afternoon the old lady heard from everybody that Karen had worn red shoes. She said that it was a shocking thing to do, that it was very improper, and that Karen was always to go to church in future in black shoes, even if they were old.
On the following Sunday there was Communion. Karen looked first at the black shoes, then at the red ones—looked at the red ones again, and put them on.
The sun was shining gloriously, so Karen and the old lady went along the footpath through the corn, where it was rather dusty.
At the church door stood an old crippled soldier leaning on a crutch; he had a wonderfully long beard, more red than white, and he bowed down to the ground and asked the old lady whether he might wipe her shoes. Then Karen put out her little foot too. “Dear me, what pretty dancing-shoes!” said the soldier. “Sit fast, when you dance,” said he, addressing the shoes, and slapping the soles with his hand.
The old lady gave the soldier some money and then went with Karen into the church.
And all the people inside looked at Karen’s red shoes, and all the figures gazed at them; when Karen knelt before the altar and put the golden goblet to her mouth, she thought only of the red shoes. It seemed to her as though they were swimming about in the goblet, and she forgot to sing the psalm, forgot to say the “Lord’s Prayer.”
Now every one came out of church, and the old lady stepped into her carriage. But just as Karen was lifting up her foot to get in too, the old soldier said: “Dear me, what pretty dancing shoes!” and Karen could not help it, she was obliged to dance a few steps; and when she had once begun, her legs continued to dance. It seemed as if the shoes had got power over them. She danced round the church corner, for she could not stop; the coachman had to run after her and seize her. He lifted her into the carriage, but her feet continued to dance, so that she kicked the good old lady violently. At last they took off her shoes, and her legs were at rest.
At home the shoes were put into the cupboard, but Karen could not help looking at them.
Now the old lady fell ill, and it was said that she would not rise from her bed again. She had to be nursed and waited upon, and this was no one’s duty more than Karen’s. But there was a grand ball in the town, and Karen was invited. She looked at the red shoes, saying to herself that there was no sin in doing that; she put the red shoes on, thinking there was no harm in that either; and then she went to the ball; and commenced to dance.
But when she wanted to go to the right, the shoes danced to the left, and when she wanted to dance up the room, the shoes danced down the room, down the stairs through the street, and out through the gates of the town. She danced, and was obliged to dance, far out into the dark wood. Suddenly something shone up among the trees, and she believed it was the moon, for it was a face. But it was the old soldier with the red beard; he sat there nodding his head and said: “Dear me, what pretty dancing shoes!”
She was frightened, and wanted to throw the red shoes away; but they stuck fast. She tore off her stockings, but the shoes had grown fast to her feet. She danced and was obliged to go on dancing over field and meadow, in rain and sunshine, by night and by day—but by night it was most horrible.
She danced out into the open churchyard; but the dead there did not dance. They had something better to do than that. She wanted to sit down on the pauper’s grave where the bitter fern grows; but for her there was neither peace nor rest. And as she danced past the open church door she saw an angel there in long white robes, with wings reaching from his shoulders down to the earth; his face was stern and grave, and in his hand he held a broad shining sword.
“Dance you shall,” said he, “dance in your red shoes till you are pale and cold, till your skin shrivels up and you are a skeleton! Dance you shall, from door to door, and where proud and wicked children live you shall knock, so that they may hear you and fear you! Dance you shall, dance—!”
“Mercy!” cried Karen. But she did not hear what the angel answered, for the shoes carried her through the gate into the fields, along highways and byways, and unceasingly she had to dance.
One morning she danced past a door that she knew well; they were singing a psalm inside, and a coffin was being carried out covered with flowers. Then she knew that she was forsaken by every one and damned by the angel of God.
She danced, and was obliged to go on dancing through the dark night. The shoes bore her away over thorns and stumps till she was all torn and bleeding; she danced away over the heath to a lonely little house. Here, she knew, lived the executioner; and she tapped with her finger at the window and said:
“Come out, come out! I cannot come in, for I must dance.”
And the executioner said: “I don’t suppose you know who I am. I strike off the heads of the wicked, and I notice that my axe is tingling to do so.”
“Don’t cut off my head!” said Karen, “for then I could not repent of my sin. But cut off my feet with the red shoes.”
And then she confessed all her sin, and the executioner struck off her feet with the red shoes; but the shoes danced away with the little feet across the field into the deep forest.
And he carved her a pair of wooden feet and some crutches, and taught her a psalm which is always sung by sinners; she kissed the hand that guided the axe, and went away over the heath.
“Now, I have suffered enough for the red shoes,” she said; “I will go to church, so that people can see me.” And she went quickly up to the church-door; but when she came there, the red shoes were dancing before her, and she was frightened, and turned back.
During the whole week she was sad and wept many bitter tears, but when Sunday came again she said: “Now I have suffered and striven enough. I believe I am quite as good as many of those who sit in church and give themselves airs.” And so she went boldly on; but she had not got farther than the churchyard gate when she saw the red shoes dancing along before her. Then she became terrified, and turned back and repented right heartily of her sin.
She went to the parsonage, and begged that she might be taken into service there. She would be industrious, she said, and do everything that she could; she did not mind about the wages as long as she had a roof over her, and was with good people. The pastor’s wife had pity on her, and took her into service. And she was industrious and thoughtful. She sat quiet and listened when the pastor read aloud from the Bible in the evening. All the children liked her very much, but when they spoke about dress and grandeur and beauty she would shake her head.
On the following Sunday they all went to church, and she was asked whether she wished to go too; but, with tears in her eyes, she looked sadly at her crutches. And then the others went to hear God’s Word, but she went alone into her little room; this was only large enough to hold the bed and a chair. Here she sat down with her hymn-book, and as she was reading it with a pious mind, the wind carried the notes of the organ over to her from the church, and in tears she lifted up her face and said: “O God! help me!”
Then the sun shone so brightly, and right before her stood an angel of God in white robes; it was the same one whom she had seen that night at the church-door. He no longer carried the sharp sword, but a beautiful green branch, full of roses; with this he touched the ceiling, which rose up very high, and where he had touched it there shone a golden star. He touched the walls, which opened wide apart, and she saw the organ which was pealing forth; she saw the pictures of the old pastors and their wives, and the congregation sitting in the polished chairs and singing from their hymn-books. The church itself had come to the poor girl in her narrow room, or the room had gone to the church. She sat in the pew with the rest of the pastor’s household, and when they had finished the hymn and looked up, they nodded and said, “It was right of you to come, Karen.”
“It was mercy,” said she.
The organ played and the children’s voices in the choir sounded soft and lovely. The bright warm sunshine streamed through the window into the pew where Karen sat, and her heart became so filled with it, so filled with peace and joy, that it broke. Her soul flew on the sunbeams to Heaven, and no one was there who asked after the Red Shoes.
A few things stood out to me when reading. The first thing was about how Karen either had to wear shoes too big for her feet or go barefoot in the beginning. The thought of that is so sad.
The second thing is how a woman just told the clergymen at Karen’s mother’s funeral she would take the girl and raise her. It seems odd to say that sort of thing at the funeral.
The third thing I thought was strange is how the soldier said something to Karen, then afterwards she loses control of her feet. Literally.
It’s interesting how overpowering the shoes were for Karen, physically and mentally. After she saw them, they were all she thought of and she even forgot to do things in church. It’s also interesting how the woman told Karen to only wear black shoes while in church. I can kind of understand the reason, for one, Karen was distracted by them and it may distract others and I can see the color “red” being associated with sin or some other negative connotation
After the old woman gets sick, I wonder how long Karen’s been staying with her since it’s her obligation to take care of her mother figure, it does say she’s an adult, but I wonder how long it’s been exactly. It’s kind of mean of Karen to just go to some grand ball, even if she was invited to it. Especially since the woman was dying and raised her.
The angel in the church sounds so creepy!
“Dance you shall,” said he, “dance in your red shoes till you are pale and cold, till your skin shrivels up and you are a skeleton! Dance you shall, from door to door, and where proud and wicked children live you shall knock, so that they may hear you and fear you! Dance you shall, dance—!”
That seems a bit harsh.
And the executioner was also really creepy, who says that sort of thing? ““I don’t suppose you know who I am. I strike off the heads of the wicked, and I notice that my axe is tingling to do so.”
Horror moving in the making. It’s really intense how she’s so desperate to get rid of the shoes that she has the executioner actually cut off her feet.
I like how she either goes to the church or it comes to her and there’s a happy ending. Overall this seems to be a moral fairytale about vanity and sin.
~Featured Fairytale Friday~
It’s Featured Fairytale Friday here at YA Indulgences. 🙂 This is a weekly feature done by me where I spotlight one fairytale and share my thoughts and any retellings I find. This week’s fairy tale is The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen.
It was so terribly cold. Snow was falling, and it was almost dark. Evening came on, the last evening of the year. In the cold and gloom a poor little girl, bareheaded and barefoot, was walking through the streets. Of course when she had left her house she’d had slippers on, but what good had they been? They were very big slippers, way too big for her, for they belonged to her mother. The little girl had lost them running across the road, where two carriages had rattled by terribly fast. One slipper she’d not been able to find again, and a boy had run off with the other, saying he could use it very well as a cradle some day when he had children of his own. And so the little girl walked on her naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried several packages of matches, and she held a box of them in her hand. No one had bought any from her all day long, and no one had given her a cent.
Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along, a picture of misery, poor little girl! The snowflakes fell on her long fair hair, which hung in pretty curls over her neck. In all the windows lights were shining, and there was a wonderful smell of roast goose, for it was New Year’s eve. Yes, she thought of that!
In a corner formed by two houses, one of which projected farther out into the street than the other, she sat down and drew up her little feet under her. She was getting colder and colder, but did not dare to go home, for she had sold no matches, nor earned a single cent, and her father would surely beat her. Besides, it was cold at home, for they had nothing over them but a roof through which the wind whistled even though the biggest cracks had been stuffed with straw and rags.
Her hands were almost dead with cold. Oh, how much one little match might warm her! If she could only take one from the box and rub it against the wall and warm her hands. She drew one out. R-r-ratch! How it sputtered and burned! It made a warm, bright flame, like a little candle, as she held her hands over it; but it gave a strange light! It really seemed to the little girl as if she were sitting before a great iron stove with shining brass knobs and a brass cover. How wonderfully the fire burned! How comfortable it was! The youngster stretched out her feet to warm them too; then the little flame went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the burnt match in her hand.
She struck another match against the wall. It burned brightly, and when the light fell upon the wall it became transparent like a thin veil, and she could see through it into a room. On the table a snow-white cloth was spread, and on it stood a shining dinner service. The roast goose steamed gloriously, stuffed with apples and prunes. And what was still better, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled along the floor with a knife and fork in its breast, right over to the little girl. Then the match went out, and she could see only the thick, cold wall. She lighted another match. Then she was sitting under the most beautiful Christmas tree. It was much larger and much more beautiful than the one she had seen last Christmas through the glass door at the rich merchant’s home. Thousands of candles burned on the green branches, and colored pictures like those in the printshops looked down at her. The little girl reached both her hands toward them. Then the match went out. But the Christmas lights mounted higher. She saw them now as bright stars in the sky. One of them fell down, forming a long line of fire.
“Now someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star fell down a soul went up to God.
She rubbed another match against the wall. It became bright again, and in the glow the old grandmother stood clear and shining, kind and lovely.
“Grandmother!” cried the child. “Oh, take me with you! I know you will disappear when the match is burned out. You will vanish like the warm stove, the wonderful roast goose and the beautiful big Christmas tree!”
And she quickly struck the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother with her. And the matches burned with such a glow that it became brighter than daylight. Grandmother had never been so grand and beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and both of them flew in brightness and joy above the earth, very, very high, and up there was neither cold, nor hunger, nor fear-they were with God.
But in the corner, leaning against the wall, sat the little girl with red cheeks and smiling mouth, frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. The New Year’s sun rose upon a little pathetic figure. The child sat there, stiff and cold, holding the matches, of which one bundle was almost burned.
“She wanted to warm herself,” the people said. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, and how happily she had gone with her old grandmother into the bright New Year.
In depth thoughts on this fairytale will be added tomorrow as I’m a bit too tired to do so tonight. I will say this is one of my favorite fairytales. It’s also a very tragic, but seet story. I feel terrible for the girl, but she gets a somewhat happy ending. I also just realized the title reference due to the girl selling matches. How’d I never notice before? 😦
~Featured Fairytale Friday~
It’s Featured Fairytale Friday here at YA Indulgences. 🙂 This is a weekly feature done by me where I spotlight one fairytale and share my thoughts and any retellings I find. This week’s fairytale is The Phoenix Bird.
IN the Garden of Paradise, beneath the Tree of Knowledge, bloomed a rose bush. Here, in the first rose, a bird was born. His flight was like the flashing of light, his plumage was beauteous, and his song ravishing. But when Eve plucked the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, when she and Adam were driven from Paradise, there fell from the flaming sword of the cherub a spark into the nest of the bird, which blazed up forthwith. The bird perished in the flames; but from the red egg in the nest there fluttered aloft a new one—the one solitary Phoenix bird. The fable tells that he dwells in Arabia, and that every hundred years, he burns himself to death in his nest; but each time a new Phoenix, the only one in the world, rises up from the red egg.
The bird flutters round us, swift as light, beauteous in color, charming in song. When a mother sits by her infant’s cradle, he stands on the pillow, and, with his wings, forms a glory around the infant’s head. He flies through the chamber of content, and brings sunshine into it, and the violets on the humble table smell doubly sweet.
But the Phoenix is not the bird of Arabia alone. He wings his way in the glimmer of the Northern Lights over the plains of Lapland, and hops among the yellow flowers in the short Greenland summer. Beneath the copper mountains of Fablun, and England’s coal mines, he flies, in the shape of a dusty moth, over the hymnbook that rests on the knees of the pious miner. On a lotus leaf he floats down the sacred waters of the Ganges, and the eye of the Hindoo maid gleams bright when she beholds him.
The Phoenix bird, dost thou not know him? The Bird of Paradise, the holy swan of song! On the car of Thespis he sat in the guise of a chattering raven, and flapped his black wings, smeared with the lees of wine; over the sounding harp of Iceland swept the swan’s red beak; on Shakspeare’s shoulder he sat in the guise of Odin’s raven, and whispered in the poet’s ear “Immortality!” and at the minstrels’ feast he fluttered through the halls of the Wartburg.
The Phoenix bird, dost thou not know him? He sang to thee the Marseillaise, and thou kissedst the pen that fell from his wing; he came in the radiance of Paradise, and perchance thou didst turn away from him towards the sparrow who sat with tinsel on his wings.
The Bird of Paradise—renewed each century—born in flame, ending in flame! Thy picture, in a golden frame, hangs in the halls of the rich, but thou thyself often fliest around, lonely and disregarded, a myth—“The Phoenix of Arabia.”
In Paradise, when thou wert born in the first rose, beneath the Tree of Knowledge, thou receivedst a kiss, and thy right name was given thee—thy name, Poetry.
I mentioned this fairytale in my past Top Ten Tuesday list as being under-rated. Compared to Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and The Little Mermaid, it is. However this is one of my favorite fairy tales. The first thing that stuck out to me about The Phoenix Bird is that it too is born from inside a flower. This trope is used in several other fairy tales such as The Elf In The Rose and Thumbelina. Once again there are biblical references in this fairytale, this time it’s Adam and Eve in the garden. I like that this takes place during the Fall, it’s an interesting aspect that brings the Phoenix to life i the story.
I love how the phoenix is described here as swift, beauteous and charming. The imagery is really enjoyable. It’s interesting to read the Phoenix travels outside of Arabia, going to mothers, the Northern Lights and to Shakespeare. I always like reading all of the references Andersen includes in his stories because they give a sort of connection. I love how he’s called the bird of paradise.
My favorite part of this tale is
The Bird of Paradise—renewed each century—born in flame, ending in flame! Thy picture, in a golden frame, hangs in the halls of the rich, but thou thyself often fliest around, lonely and disregarded, a myth—“The Phoenix of Arabia.
It’s interesting to read how Andersen acknowledges the Phoenix is known as a myth, but sort of expands that in the story. As a poetry lover, I love that the Phoenix name is poetry. The Phoenix certainly seems like poetry with all of the beautiful imagery Andersen used to describe it.
That’s all I have this week. 🙂 Are you familiar with the mythological phoenix or this fairytale? What sticks out to you about it? Let me know.
~Featured Fairytale Friday~
Welcome to Featured Fairytale Friday! This is a weekly feature at YA Indulgences which allows me to share fairytales with you all. Every Friday, I will share a fairytale, my thoughts, and list any book adaptions I’m interested in, as well as anything else. 🙂
The fairytale I chose this week is The Loveliest Rose In The World by Hans Christian Andersen.
HERE lived once a great queen, in whose garden were found at all seasons the most splendid flowers, and from every land in the world. She specially loved roses, and therefore she possessed the most beautiful varieties of this flower, from the wild hedge-rose, with its apple-scented leaves, to the splendid Provence rose. They grew near the shelter of the walls, wound themselves round columns and window-frames, crept along passages and over the ceilings of the halls. They were of every fragrance and color.
But care and sorrow dwelt within these halls; the queen lay upon a sick bed, and the doctors declared that she must die. “There is still one thing that could save her,” said one of the wisest among them. “Bring her the loveliest rose in the world; one which exhibits the purest and brightest love, and if it is brought to her before her eyes close, she will not die.”
Then from all parts came those who brought roses that bloomed in every garden, but they were not the right sort. The flower must be one from the garden of love; but which of the roses there showed forth the highest and purest love? The poets sang of this rose, the loveliest in the world, and each named one which he considered worthy of that title; and intelligence of what was required was sent far and wide to every heart that beat with love; to every class, age, and condition.
“No one has yet named the flower,” said the wise man. “No one has pointed out the spot where it blooms in all its splendor. It is not a rose from the coffin of Romeo and Juliet, or from the grave of Walburg, though these roses will live in everlasting song. It is not one of the roses which sprouted forth from the blood-stained fame of Winkelreid. The blood which flows from the breast of a hero who dies for his country is sacred, and his memory is sweet, and no rose can be redder than the blood which flows from his veins. Neither is it the magic flower of Science, to obtain which wondrous flower a man devotes many an hour of his fresh young life in sleepless nights, in a lonely chamber.”
“I know where it blooms,” said a happy mother, who came with her lovely child to the bedside of the queen. “I know where the loveliest rose in the world is. It is seen on the blooming cheeks of my sweet child, when it expresses the pure and holy love of infancy; when refreshed by sleep it opens its eyes, and smiles upon me with childlike affection.”
“This is a lovely rose,” said the wise man; “but there is one still more lovely.”
“Yes, one far more lovely,” said one of the women. “I have seen it, and a loftier and purer rose does not bloom. But it was white, like the leaves of a blush-rose. I saw it on the cheeks of the queen. She had taken off her golden crown, and through the long, dreary night, she carried her sick child in her arms. She wept over it, kissed it, and prayed for it as only a mother can pray in that hour of her anguish.”
“Holy and wonderful in its might is the white rose of grief, but it is not the one we seek.”
“No; the loveliest rose in the world I saw at the Lord’s table,” said the good old bishop. “I saw it shine as if an angel’s face had appeared. A young maiden knelt at the altar, and renewed the vows made at her baptism; and there were white roses and red roses on the blushing cheeks of that young girl. She looked up to heaven with all the purity and love of her young spirit, in all the expression of the highest and purest love.”
“May she be blessed!” said the wise man: “but no one has yet named the loveliest rose in the world.”
Then there came into the room a child—the queen’s little son. Tears stood in his eyes, and glistened on his cheeks; he carried a great book and the binding was of velvet, with silver clasps. “Mother,” cried the little boy; “only hear what I have read.” And the child seated himself by the bedside, and read from the book of Him who suffered death on the cross to save all men, even who are yet unborn. He read, “Greater love hath no man than this,” and as he read a roseate hue spread over the cheeks of the queen, and her eyes became so enlightened and clear, that she saw from the leaves of the book a lovely rose spring forth, a type of Him who shed His blood on the cross.
“I see it,” she said. “He who beholds this, the loveliest rose on earth, shall never die.”
Something I really like in fairy tales are the mention of flowers. I felt this would be a great choice for this week’s selection.
I love this fairy tale because it involves a queen, a garden and a bit of magic. I love the descriptions of the flowers and their wrapping around the castle. The queen’s garden sounds like a complete dream with all of the flowers. The Loveliest Rose In The World makes me think of the Disney movie Tangled because of the queen being sick and a flower being able to save her.
I like how the wise man explained what the rose was not from Romeo and Juliet’s coffin or the grave of Walburg. I also like that the rose took on a meaning of blushing or a person. It was interesting to see what each person thought was the loveliest rose in the world. The rose ended up being a metaphor of sorts. I loved that the rose that saved the Queen ended up being Jesus being crucified to save humans. I love that the Queen’s son is the one to be reveal the loveliest rose on earth.
~Featured Fairytale Friday~
Welcome to Featured Fairytale Friday! This is another new feature I’ve created. Every Friday, I will share a fairytale, my thoughts, list any book adaptions I’m interested in, as well as anything else. 🙂 Please let me know what you think of this feature.
As a child I was never read fairytales, but saw all of Disney’s adaptions growing up. When I got older I was interested in reading fairytales particularly those by Hans Christian Andersen.
This week’s featured fairytale is The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, a classic, naturally. As children, I think most of us were subjected to Disney’s adaption of this fairytale.
In Disney’s version, Ariel is the youngest of seven sisters who dreams of going on land which isn’t allowed. After going to see a ship, she sees Eric, who she is instantly attracted to. A storm then happens and Ariel saves Eric. After her father finds out she actually saved a human, he destroys her human objects collection. Angry and hurt Ariel ends up turning to a sea witch who tells her she can turn her human, in exchange for her voice. Ariel agrees despite also having to give her voice to the sea witch. Ariel then meets Eric and tries to get him to fall in love with her. This movie ends on a happy note, of course. 🙂
In the original version the little mermaid lives with her father, grandmother and five older sisters. She has a fascination with land. The little mermaid asks her grandmother all kinds of questions about the human world. Each mermaid is able to go see the surface on their 15th birthday. The little mermaid listens to each of her sisters as they tell the others what they saw, longing to go see the surface for herself.
When the little mermaid finally turns fifteen, she goes to the surface where she visits a ship. She falls in love with the prince on board at first sight. A storm happens and the little mermaid saves the prince from drowning. She takes him to the shore and waits until someone finds him then leaves. Unable to keep the information to herself, she tells one of her sisters and the others find out.
Afterwards the little mermaid asks her grandmother if humans are able to live forever or if they never die like they do. Her grandmother tells her they do in fact die and have an even shorter lifespan. Mermaids are able to sometimes live to be 300. Once they die though, they don’t exist anymore because they don’t have immortal souls. Her grandmother says that humans have all have souls which last after their body has turned to dust and they go to unknown areas mermaids will never see.
The little mermaid questions why they don’t have immortal souls and she would give anything to have one. Her grandmother tells her not to think that and to feel happier and better off than humans. The mermaid asks her grandmother if there is a way she can get a soul. Her grandmother says unless she finds a man to love her more than he does, focuses his thoughts on her, and promises to be true, can she have an immortal soul.
Her grandmother tells her that can never be because of her fishtail. They attend the royal ball later that night. While there the little mermaid decides to go to the sea witch to help her. The sea witch already tells her she knew what she wanted. The sea witch says she will get a draught for her which has to be drunk by land the next day, then she will have her legs. However, she will feel great pain like a sword was going through her, every step will feel as if she’s stepping on knives and her feet will bleed.
The sea witch tells her she can never go back to being a mermaid or the water again. Finally, if the prince doesn’t fall in love with her, she will have no immortal soul. The little mermaid tells her she will do it, in turn she has to pay the sea witch by giving her her own voice. The mermaid questions how she will make the prince fall in love with her if she can’t talk, the sea witch tells her she has her looks to get his heart.
After the little mermaid takes the draught in front of the palace, she laid like she was dead. When she woke up, she discovers the prince and they go into the castle. As the little mermaid and the prince became more acquainted with each other, she loved him more. The prince hadn’t thought of marrying the mermaid, but if he didn’t, she would never have an immortal soul and dissolve into sea foam.
The prince tells her the story of how he was shipwrecked, but a young maiden resembling the little mermaid saved him. Due to the young maiden living in a holy temple, they would never meet again. The little mermaid was happy at this thought because she would still be there.
Around the time the prince was to marry, he went to visit a king who lived nearby. It was thought he really went to visit the king’s daughter, but he reassured the little mermaid, he couldn’t love his daughter. The little mermaid goes with him. Later that night, the little mermaid gazes out to the sea sure she can see her father’s castle. Her sisters appear sadly and disappear when a cabin boy came nearby.
The next morning, everyone on the ship went to see the princess’s beauty. The princess was believed to be educated and taught royal virtues. The princess tells the princess that it was she who saved him. He then tells the little mermaid that she will be happy for him because she has a great devotion to him.
The next morning morning, the little mermaid’s sisters appeared without hair as they sold it to the sea witch in return for help. The sisters tell her the witch’s instructions and give her a knife. The little mermaid is to stab the prince in the heart before the sun rises. Once the blood lands on her feet, she will become a mermaid again and return to the sea. The sun was already beginning to rise at this time.
The little mermaid goes to the prince, kisses his brow and looked to the rising sun. She looks to the prince who whispers his bride’s name in his sleep. Seeing this, the little mermaid is unable to kill the prince and throws the knife into the ocean. She then threw herself into the sea and felt herself turn into foam.
The little mermaid looked at the sun which was surrounded by hundreds of transparent beings. She asks where she is and is told she is “Among the daughters of the air”. They tell her that unless a mermaid makes a human fall in love with her can she have an immortal soul.
The daughters of the air tell her they however can earn their immortal souls through 300 years of good works. Looking back towards the ship, she saw the prince and princess look overboard as if they knew she threw herself over. Unseen by them, she kissed the princess’s forehead, fanned the prince and then went to a cloud with the other beings.
The little mermaid tells them that after three years they will have immortal souls, maybe even sooner. As they see good children their three hundred years is shortened. If they see a bad child, their tears shed and for every tear they shed, a day is added for their 300 years of good works they have to obtain.
Well then, that was very long. 🙂 You can find the original version here. In addition you can pick up a book of Andersen’s fairy tales here.
Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid is a beautiful and tragic tale of love and selflessness. My favorite things about this fairytale are the existence of mermaids, the beautiful imagery Andersen uses and the selflessness the little mermaid shows towards the prince. The little mermaid knows then she will never have an immortal soul and turn into sea foam in the morning after his wedding, but still chooses to not kill him for her own life.
I like that this story has an unexpected happy ending. I was also interested in the religious themes the story contained such as immortal souls, celestial beings, and Heaven that the mermaid works toward. I thought it was interesting that a mermaid could have an immortal soul if she found one to love her. In contrast, the celestial beings were able to work for their own immortal soul.
The ending of the story is actually not original to the story though. In the original, the mermaid turns into sea foam and ceases to exist. Andersen later revised the ending saying that was his original intent for the ending. (1)
I think it’s interesting that whether or not the 300 years of good works was original or later decided on, it follows along with other fairytales of Europe around this time. In this time period, fairytales were used to teach children lessons.
Something that stood out to me was that both the life span of a mermaid and the celestial beings good works were both three hundred years. Something I wonder is where these celestial beings came from and whether they were previously mermaids like the little mermaid was.
Now I thought I would list some book adaptions/other mermaid tales for The Little Mermaid I discovered at Epic Reads:
September Girls by Bennet Madison
Fathomless by Jackson Pearce
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Midnight Pearls by Cameron Dokey
Mermaid: A Twist on a Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon