© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Andersen's Fairy Tales

Andersen's Fairy Tales

by Andersen, Hans Christian

Andersen's Fairy Tales Tales 41-50 Summary

Tale 41: From a Window in Vartov

  • Outside Copenhagen is a place called Vartov, where poor old people go to live. An old woman there remembers children playing, her own life, how she fell in love but her suitor died, and that's how she became an old maid. Ba-dum-tsh!

Tale 42: The Old Street Lamp

  • An old street lamp worries about being retired and being melted down. Luckily the night watchman and his wife take in the lamp, and it feels loved and cared for (it still dreams of being eventually melted down, though, cuz it just can't let the whole death thing go).

Tale 43: The Neighbors

  • Some sparrows are neighbors to roses outside of a cottage. The baby sparrows all scatter after tragedy strikes and their mother is killed. They reunite later in life and find the roses, too, which have been uprooted and then planted over the grave of a famous artist.

Tale 44: Little Tuck

  • A little boy named Tuck neglects his studies to help an old washerwoman carry water. When he goes to sleep, he dreams that the old woman shows up and magically takes him on a tour of all the places he's supposed to have studied in his geography lessons. When he wakes up, he doesn't remember the dream. But God does.

Tale 45: The Shadow

  • A philosopher visits the Mediterranean and is intrigued by a balcony opposite the place he's renting. He sends his shadow over to check it out. His shadow never comes back, but the philosopher grows another one, so people don't think he's strange.
  • Then he goes back home to the north, where, years later, he receives a visitor. Turns out his shadow had entered the house of Poetry, learned a bunch, and impressed people with his knowledge so that they showered him with gifts. So his shadow's actually become rich and famous. Which is pretty sweet.
  • They chat, and the shadow asks the philosopher to keep it on the DL that the shadow isn't a real human being. The shadow leaves and visits again in a few years. The philosopher is poor and sick, while the shadow is thriving.
  • The shadow offers to pay for the philosopher to come with him to a spa, except the shadow tells everyone that the philosopher is actually its shadow, so it's like they've switched places.
  • While at the spa, the shadow meets and falls in love with a princess. They agree to marry, and they put the philosopher out of his misery because clearly, he's delusional for insisting that he's a real human being. Mean shadow is mean.

Tale 46: The Old House

  • There's an old house in a block full of new houses. An old man lives there, and he invites a boy from across the street to visit with him. The boy gives him one of his tin soldiers and asks whether the old man is lonely. Apparently not, since he has his memories to keep him company. The old man dies; the house is torn down. Eventually the boy grows up, gets married, and moves into the new house that's built there. He finds his same tin soldier, and tells his wife about the old man and how his memories kept him from feeling alone.

Tale 47: A Drop of Water

  • A guy named Wiggle-waggle (for reals) is looking at a drop of ditch water through a magnifying glass. All the little critters in there are struggling, fighting, and eating each other. Wiggle-waggle asks a visiting troll to look at it and guess what he's seeing, and the troll guesses: the streets of Copenhagen. Nope—it's just ditch water! Any of you who have put some regular old water from your backyard under a microscope knows just how frighteningly true this tale can be…

Tale 48: The Happy Family

  • A family of snails lives inside a burdock forest near an old manor house. The mom and dad snails arrange a marriage for their son. And there was much rejoicing (yayyyy).

Tale 49: The Story of a Mother

  • A mother is caring for her sick child when an old man enters from the bitter cold. The old man is Death, and he takes her child while she closes her eyes to rest.
  • The mother goes after Death, and along the way meets various figures that demand something from her for their help. Night makes her sing, a rosebush takes her heart's blood, a lake takes her eyes, and the woman who guards Death's greenhouse takes her long, beautiful hair.
  • Death returns to his greenhouse to pull up flowers representing all the souls he's harvested. The mother tries to prevent him from taking her child's soul, but Death explains that he's doing God's will. Moreover, her child would have suffered during his lifetime, so the woman prays to God to carry out his will and keep her child safe in heaven. Thanks, God!

Tale 50: The Collar

  • A gentleman's collar is boastful, and proposes to all the lady-objects he meets (a garter, scissors, and so on). Finally the collar ends up in a rag pile, and is made into a piece of paper—the same paper the story of the collar is printed on. This is the collar's punishment for telling so many lies.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement