Creator / Hans Christian Andersen

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Remember that bedtime story about the ugly duckling who became a swan? The image of a princess sleeping on a ton of mattresses... and a pea? The Fairy Tale about a mermaid who sold her voice to a sorceress to try to win the love of a human prince? Meet the Danish author of all the saddest and sweetest of the fairy tales we all grew up with, tales seen referenced in pop culture so frequently that most people have no idea they were written by the same author.

Born on April 2, 1805 (which is now "National Children's Book Day"), Hans Christian Andersen (abbreviated H. C. Andersen in Denmark) grew up to become to fairy tales what Shakespeare became to drama. His works range from the simple to the epic, are full of complex but meaningful symbolism, and span the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.

The most familiar version of "The Little Mermaid" in the western world is probably Disney's, which deviates strongly from the original: Hans Christian's protagonist has No Name Given, no bikini top made from seashells, and no Non Human Sidekicks, but does have a grandmother, and wants to marry the prince for "an immortal soul" (yes, in the Christian sense) as much as for romantic love. Not to mention the minor fact that said prince marries another girl, meaning she'll die unless she stabs him, which she doesn't. And then there's a bit of disconnected Deus ex Machina Aesoptinum Mood Whiplash, but we don't talk about that.

Interestingly, Oscar Wilde still thought the story too upbeat and penned an even darker version, "The Fisherman and His Soul" as a reaction. In this charming tale a human must sell his immortal soul in order to marry a mermaid.

Other works have come through the adaptation process about as reasonably intact as can be expected. "The Snow Queen", basically an epic Gender Flipped Rescue Romance heavy on the symbolism, has been turned into a science-fiction novel, an animated movie, and an anime by NHK, Cardcaptor Sakura's network. The Disney film Frozen was originally meant to be an adaptation of "The Snow Queen", and even had it as its Working Title (and it's still titled that in some countries), but ended up developing into its own original story with inspiration from the fairy tale.

The Other Wiki says he was also quite possibly bisexual, so that's fun too. It's also noted that Andersen himself, his eccentric behavior and arrogance usually led to him getting kicked out by the various nobles who housed him.


Works by Hans Christian Andersen with their own pages include:

Andersen's other works provide examples of:

  • Accentuate the Negative:
    • An important point in the tale "Something", where a caustic critic is "something" because he does that constantly.
    • The Snail in "The Snail and the Rosebush".
    • The Devil in "The Philosopher's Stone".
  • An Aesop: Often a Space Whale Aesop as in "The Rose Elf" (don't kill your sister's beloved, or the spirits that live inside the blossoms will murder you in your sleep).
  • And I Must Scream: "The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf", in which the cruel, vain protagonist becomes a statue in Hell, able to hear everything said about her on Earth, almost all of which is nasty until an angel begins to cry for her and sets her soul free.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In his story, "The Galoshes of Fortune", the eponymous shoes grant the wishes of whoever is wearing them. This usually ends badly, as the characters are unaware of their power.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: More than one of his characters ponder this, with truth as the third platonic entity in the mix. The Philosopher's stone plays it straight.
  • Bowdlerise: When companies adapt his works, most writers attempts to remove the Died Happily Ever After trope with varying results.
  • Cranky Neighbor: A mild variety, mostly on the subject of Denmark and Norway. Mostly in "The Rags", where the two nationalities lash out towards eachother, with an ironic twist. Also in The Elf Mound, where the Norwegian Troll King is trying to get a bride from the more Danish fairy stock. She finds the Norwegian trolls rude.
  • Died Happily Ever After: Dying horribly (which appears to be intended as happily) and going to Heaven seems to be Andersen's idea of the ultimate Happy Ending. Averted, however in "The Nightingale", which has a regular Happy Ending: the protagonist, thought to be already dead by everyone, survives after all.
  • Disobey This Message: The fairy in "The Garden of Paradise" tells the prince that she is bound to beckon to him and to say "Follow me". As she is a Forbidden Fruit, the prince needs to disobey that instruction.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • "The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf". Not wanting to visit your family because you're ashamed of how poor they are, and using the loaf you're supposed to give them as a stepping-stone to stop your shoes getting muddy? Kind of a Jerk Ass move. She did also have a habit of torturing animals for fun...worth going to Hell for?
    • "The Storks". A young boy leads several other boys into singing a song that taunts a family of storks. As revenge, the storks refuse to bring any of the boys baby brothers or sisters... except for the boy who led the song. The storks bring him a dead baby brother.
    • "In the Duck Yard". An injured songbird is resting in a duck yard, where a proud and haughty Portuguese duck resides. The songbird makes the mistake of comparing the Portuguese to a cat, so the duck decapitates the songbird.
    • The Red Shoes, in which the protagonist is punished for paying more attention to the title objects than to her family or to church sermons by being forced to dance in them until she dies. Oh, and the shoes keep on dancing, even after her feet get chopped off!
  • Forbidden Fruit: The fairy in "The Garden of Paradise". Should she be kissed, the garden will be ruined.
  • Hope Spot: Many tales come out as this. The small tale has a happy ending, but the big picture is always a different matter.
  • Irony: In "Red Shoes", all the protagonist wanted to do was dance. This was literally all she could do.
  • Kick the Dog: Inge, "The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf", is first introduced as a child tormenting insects.
  • Mutual Envy: In "The Goloshes of Fortune", the titular goloshes cause wishes to come true (although no one who wears them is aware of this property). A watchman puts them on and, looking up into a lieutenant's window, wishes he was the lieutenant. He enters the consciousness of the lieutenant — and the lieutenant, looking down enviously, wishes he was the watchman, which restores the watchman to himself.
  • Satan: Features in "The Philosopher's Stone", among other works. He is prominent when Andersen discusses truth vs untruth. Satan is clearly the "prince of lies", while God is the equivalent of truth.
  • Swan Boats: In the fairy tale "Ole-Luk-Oie", Hjalmar dreams that he rides in a boat pulled by swans.

Andersen has appeared as a Historical-Domain Character in the following works:

  • The 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen, starring Danny Kaye, which describes itself as "a fairy tale about the great spinner of fairy tales" (a colorful way of saying it's almost entirely made up).
  • Fate Extra CCC and Fate/Grand Order, where he is a Caster-type Servant.

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