Study Guide

Andersen's Fairy Tales Swans

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You can pretty much do the math on this one yourselves: swans = majestic, awesome, and noble. Plus, swans also = the people of Denmark. And since we already know swans = majestic, awesome, and noble, the transitive property tells us that the people of Denmark = majestic, awesome, and noble too. Ta-da!

  • First, there's the baby swan in "The Ugly Duckling" that doesn't realize how majestic it actually is until it grows up.
  • Then, Elisa's brothers in "The Wild Swans" are transformed into "swans, with golden crowns on their heads" (13.33). And that also sounds pretty majestic-looking.
  • The whole point of the short story "The Swans' Nest" is to compare Denmark to a swans' nest from which all these over-achieving swans fly out into the world: the Lombards and Normans (who conquered a good chunk of Europe), the Christian Danes who converted heathens to the cross, and finally astronomers, inventors, and sculptors who made their mark on the world.

So, Andersen is a fan of swans. And also of Denmark. But probably not of Da Bears or Da Bulls. Cuz that wouldn't make any sense.

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