Sammi’s journey in the Kingdom of King Esa was coming to an end, but Sammi knew that she had yet to face her final challenge (after all, everything in fairytales comes in threes, right?). So she was not surprised when, as she walked by the town graveyard, a dark angel wielding a long, sharp sword rose up from behind a gravestone.
“Yes, hello, you’re here to present me with my third challenge, and in order to continue to move about in the Kingdom I have to successfully complete the challenge, or else you might smite me down, or eat me, or feed me to a wolf or something. Let’s get on with it.”
The angel stared at Sammi for a brief moment and then responded in a blood-chilling voice. “Dance you shall, dance in your red shoes until you are cold and pale, until – ”
“Well,” Sammi interrupted, “fortunately for me, I left my red shoes at home. So let’s skip the doom and gloom and get to the challenge.”
The angel sighed. “I never get to have any fun anymore.
“The challenge stands thusly: identify what is similar and different between the fairytales you know and the stories of Hans Christian Andersen. Fail, and you must turn to God and perish. Succeed, and you must turn to God and perish.”
“Well,” Sammi said, “I don’t actually plan on dying today, but you did actually give me my first answer. Unlike the other stories, which may contain a few rather grotesque deaths, the deaths in Andersen’s stories are much more focused on God and atoning for sins. Death also, strangely enough, seems to come to children rather than the villains… Andersen’s moral to the children, I expect.”
Sammi then acknowledged that, like many fairytales, Andersen’s stories had moral messages, although his were more related to social hierarchy than any of the other fairytales. Sammi also noted that Andersen had a tendency to include motifs of sacrifice (i.e. The Little Mermaid), religion, and divine influence, which were rather unique in the fairytale genre. Furthermore, Andersen’s use of “dominated” characters (i.e. characters who accepted their lot in life and put fate in the hands of a dominant social or divine power) was also unique; in other fairytales, the characters seem to overcome those who think they are in power.
His stories were also very depressing: in The Little Mermaid, she dies of heartbreak (but hey, at least she has a chance to get an immortal soul!); in The Little Match Girl, she is too afraid to return home without having sold any matches and thus dies in the cold; The Red Shoes, Karen loses her feet and her life all because she falls in love with her fabulous footwear!
All in all, Sammi concluded, Andersen’s style really was quite different than any she had previously encounted, and she told the angel so. The angel was so taken aback by the excellent answer that he disappeared on the spot, leaving Sammi to continue on her way.
“Well,” Sammi thought, “that was odd.”
To be continued…