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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Society and Class

We're not saying Andersen was obsessed with social class… okay, yes, we are. Maybe it's because he was born poor and was always trying to claw his way to the top. Maybe it's because he worshiped...

Love

OMG, we like, totally love Andersen. If he were still alive, we'd probably pass him a note that said, "Do you like us? Check 'yes' or 'no'." Plus, we know from Andersen's letters and diaries that t...

Art and Culture

What's the deal with Andersen's obvious interest in art? There's a ton of art in Andersen's stories, from poetry to sculpture and music. There're a lot of artist characters too. We think there are...

Memory and The Past

We're thinking Andersen was one giant history nerd, based on how much history (of Denmark and Europe in general) he includes in his stories. Famous kings and inventors pop up in his tales, and many...

Foreignness and "The Other"

A lot of Andersen's stories are set in far-off locales. His characters like to travel, and they tend to encounter people from other cultures who are a bit on the strange side (those Finns and their...

Appearances

Who would have guessed that the dude who wrote "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Emperor's New Clothes" had some strong opinions about appearances? You, probably. Andersen seems to be trying to teach us...

Visions of Denmark

Andersen was Danish, and boy was he proud of it! Every third story or so contains some reference to Denmark, the Danish language, the Danish landscape, or Danish historical figures. So if you're no...

Religion

If you read these stories not knowing anything about Andersen's life, you'd probably guess (correctly) that he was Christian. His tales contain a lot of stuff about God, angels, faith, the Bible, t...

Sin

Bored of your run-of-the-mill, Everyone Poops brand of self-celebrating children's stories? Well, Andersen's tales are pretty remarkable in that they dwell on about the darker side of being human:...
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