"The Nightingale", also known as "The Chinese Nightingale" and "The Emperor and the Nightingale" is a famous 19th century fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen
. It was first published in 1843.
The story takes place in Imperial China
. The Emperor learns that one of the most beautiful sounds on Earth is the song of the nightingale. He Emperor is so delighted with the bird's song that he keeps the nightingale in captivity. When the Emperor is given a bejeweled mechanical bird he loses interest in the real nightingale, who returns to the forest. The mechanical bird eventually breaks down due to overuse. The Emperor then falls ill and The Grim Reaper
is even sitting on his chest, waiting until he dies. The real nightingale learns of the Emperor's condition and returns to the palace. The Grim Reaper is so moved by the nightingale's song that he departs and the emperor recovers. The nightingale agrees to sing to the emperor of all the happenings in the empire, that he will be known as the wisest emperor ever to live.
This fairy tale provides examples of
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Sort of. When the Emperor sees the bejeweled mechanical bird he prefers it over the grey real nightingale and forgets the latter completely.
- Back from the Dead: The royal entourage arrives at the Emperor's bedroom assuming he must have died by now, only to have him greet everybody with the words: "Good morning everybody."
- Bowdlerise: Some child oriented versions just let the Emperor be very ill and omit the entire scene with the Grim Reaper.
- Clock Punk: The mechanical nightingale
- Come Back My Pet: At his death bed the Emperor wishes the real nightingale would return.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: After singing for the Emperor for so long the monarch just forgets the real nightingale for a fake one.
- The Grim Reaper: Appears when the Emperor is about to die.
- Imperial China: The story takes place in this time period.
- Loyal Animal Companion: The nightingale remains loyal to the Emperor.
- New Technology Is Evil: The mechanical nightingale makes the Emperor dependent on it, but when it breaks he immediately falls ill because he misses its sound so much. However, in the end when the Emperor says that he'll break the machine into pieces, the real nightingale tells him not to do so, because "the bird did very well as long as it could".
- Nightmare Face: Andersen describes how the Emperor looks straight into the hollow eyes of Death.
- Please Spare Him, My Liege!: The nightingale persuades the Grim Reaper to spare the Emperor's life.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The mechanical nightingale who can sing just as beautifully as the real nightingale and looks prettier due to the jewelry on its body.
- Talking Animal: The nightingale agrees to go to the Emperor's Palace and argues with the Grim Reaper over keeping the Emperor alive.
- Upper-Class Twit: The imperial court is full of them. The chamberlain is so above people that he never bothers to speak a word to common folk, but when it comes to finding the nightingale, none of them can distinguish a bird from a cow, or a frog. The fishermen, on the other hand...