“Thumbelina”, analysis of the tale by Hans Christian Andersen

History of creation

The tale “Thumbelina” is one of Andersen’s most popular tales, published in 1853 in the book “Fairy Tales Told for Children”. Unlike many tales of the writer, this one is intended specifically for children, but this does not mean that there is no philosophical subtext in it.

Literary direction and genre

“Thumbelina” is a literary fairy tale. The image of the little girl is close to the image of the Boy-and-finger of the Brothers Grimm. Of folklore motifs in a fairy tale, except that the birth of a child is made of grain from a childless mother.

Even in a children’s fairy tale, the influence of romanticism is felt. Although Thumbelina and a girl, but she seems to belong to another world. The human world is hostile to a fragile tiny girl, she is lonely and is not understood by anyone. Only in a faraway ideal country does she find her own kind.

Theme and issues

The theme of the tale is the role of fate, chance in human life. Andersen subjects the heroine to many trials in which she gains invaluable life experience, and her appearance, character and emotional qualities remain unchanged. A romantic, a big child, a writer himself believes that a kind heart and beauty are always rewarded, that happiness for such people is inevitable.

The plot and composition

The tale begins with the traditional “vein-was.” The exhibition tells about how a woman went to the sorceress and grew a flower similar to a tulip from a magic seed, in which Thumbelina turned out to be. Mom’s life is like a doll’s one: she just floats in a boat of a tulip petal and sleeps in a varnished walnut shell. This is still pre-life, the expectation of life.

The plot begins a series of adventures Thumbelina. Everything that happens to her, on the one hand, shows the spiritual qualities of a girl, on the other – it becomes an invaluable life experience. Thumbelina understands that she does not want to live with an ugly toad, she is grateful to the fish, gnawing a leaf stalk. Thumbelina sympathizes with the moth, the culprit of misfortune and, possibly, the death of which became a girl, tying the moth with a belt to the sheet.

From the May beetle, Thumbelina found out how fleeting attachments are, how relative beauty is. Thumbelina knew poverty, hunger and cold, humility. She learned helpfulness and gratitude from a field mouse. The kindness and pity of the Thumbelina, who covered the swallow with a warm carpet and down, saved the bird’s life. The girl learned to sacrifice by giving the swallow her own blanket – a mint leaf.

Thumbelina steadfastly endures all hardships of life, she resigned herself to her insignificance, subordinate and dependent position. Thumbelina meekly prepares outfits for the wedding, although she does not like the boring mole. The only thing the girl cannot bear is parting with the sun. The climax of the tale is the escape of Thumbelina with a swallow to the warm edges.

The denouement at the tale is happy. Although Thumbelina flies into the unknown, she finds her happiness, because she does not lose hope in him. And the happiness of living beings consists in living in harmony with the world, nature and with a society of like-minded people. That is, the same elves as Thumbelina herself. The wings that the elves present to Thumbelina are the only material embodiment of her qualities that are truly superior to human and close to angelic.

The tale closes with the narrator, to whom the swallow tells the story of Thumbelina. So a fairy tale turns into a reliable story, told firsthand.

Heroes of a fairy tale

Thumbelina – a tiny magical girl, “tender, clear, like a rose petal.” She knows how to see the beauty around her and she is very cute and tender. Thumbelina emerges from a glorious flower with beautiful variegated petals. She is surrounded by beauty and love, and this is the only way to know the world – aesthetic. That is, Thumbelina sees the beauty of the world, including the spiritual, and is able to feel, empathize, and such a little girl does not need more. Anyway, this is enough for a person, as Andersen shows in a fairy tale.

Thumbelina was initially endowed with all the best qualities: she is “pretty”, “how pretty she is cute” and knows how to see and appreciate beauty and kindness. She receives the first lesson from her mother, who takes care of her. The whole life of Thumbelina is determined by the concepts of beauty, so she does not want to “live with an ugly toad and marry her nasty son.” The May bug and its tribesmen managed to shake the ideal of Thumbelina, saddened that even beetles consider her ugly. The mouse appreciates only the spiritual qualities of Thumbelina and practical benefits, and the mole is fascinated by her singing.

Only the elves could appreciate the beauty of Thumbelina. She knew love, but first learned to be friends with a swallow. Thumbelina is reborn, as evidenced by her name. Until now, she was a fairy girl, a baby compared to a man. Now she is turning into a full member of her society, becoming Maya.

All animal heroes are an allegory of certain types of people. Toads are ordinary people living in a convention swamp. May bugs – those whose opinion, lifestyle and even love depend on the opinions of others. A mouse is an allegory of a money-grubber who is not interested in anything except material wealth and convenience. The fact that she lives in a hole is conveyed by the metaphor “does not raise her head, does not see the sun.” This is a man who lives with worldly concerns. Mole in this case embodies a blind man who does not see the truth, the allegory of which is the sun. Swallow – an allegory of a person who fulfills a mission in life.

Artistic identity

The tale is based on the opposition of good and evil, light and darkness, tenderness and rudeness, large and small. Hence the enormous role of appraisal words, mainly epithets: glorious, tiny, charm, poor baby, tremendous ugly toad, ugly, nasty son, pretty baby lighter than swan fluff, pretty places, pretty girl, ugly, huge halls, wonderful fur coat, pretty wings , poor bird, sweet baby. The author seems to take the position of a heroine, sees the world through her eyes, sympathizes with her. He is a witness to everything that happens, “a great master of telling tales.”

This entry was posted in Hans Christian Andersen. Bookmark the permalink.