Study Guide

Andersen's Fairy Tales Tales 151-156

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Tales 151-156

Tale 151: The Gardener and His Master

  • A noble guy employs a gardener who always produces the best fruits, veggies, and flowers. But the master is always convinced that his neighbors have better produce, until the grocer points out that the neighbors had bought the surplus from his own garden. The gardener keeps growing really amazing stuff, which his master never really appreciates. Oh well.

Tale 152: The Professor and the Flea

  • A balloonist crashes his hot air balloon, and so to make money, he tours with a flea that entertains crowds with a mini-cannon. The guy starts calling himself a professor. He and the flea come to a savage land, where the cannibal princess wishes to marry the flea. The professor is bored having to stay there (because cannibals are total yawn fests?), so he asks for the supplies to make another hot air balloon, and then he and the flea escape on it.

Tale 153: The Story Old Johanna Told

  • A tailor's motto is "What's the use?" His wife is good and pious, but their youngest son, Rasmus, inherits his dad's pessimistic outlook. Rasmus leaves the town, and leaves his childhood friend Johanna. He comes back old and broken when a spell from a girl who wants to marry him forces him to return. Johanna tries to help him, but he ends up dying, and she tells the story of his life.

Tale 154: The Front Door Key

  • Some dude teaches a chatty councilor to use his front door key to answer questions by making it act like a Ouija board. The councilor and his wife take in a young girl to help mentor her, and she, too, believes in the power of the key (it prophesies success for her, so she'd better believe it!). She tries her hand at acting, but fails. The councilor's wife dies, and the councilor asks the girl to marry him, so she ends up happy after all. Unlike the councilor's wife, who just ends up dead.

Tale 155: The Cripple

  • The master and mistress of a manor house always give their servants gifts. One set of servants have a son, Hans, who's crippled (his legs didn't grow properly), and he receives a book of fairy tales.
  • Every time the kid's parents are disgruntled about being poor, he reads them a tale about people who aren't grateful for what they have (one of those tales is from the Grimms' collection, about the fisherman and his wife).
  • The master and mistress give Hans a pretty bird that sings. One day, while Hans is reading, their cat is stalking the bird. Hans freaks out but can't do anything about it, since he can't walk. But then, he miraculously can get up and walk.
  • The master and mistress send Hans to school in the capital, which makes his parents both happy and sad. At least the kid has a chance to make something of his life, right?

Tale 156: Auntie Toothache

  • This story apparently came from a barrel full of scrap paper. Its author was a student who suffered from terrible toothaches and then died.
  • Here's how the story goes: the writer remembers his Auntie always feeding him sweets and encouraging him to be a poet. A brewer in their community nicknames her "Auntie Toothache" because she's always spoiling kids with sugary treats.
  • The writer hallucinates about a toothache personified as a woman visiting him one night. The toothache promises to disguise itself as his aunt, so that he'll always remember that a painful toothache is more powerful than poetry.
  • The story ends there—and we learn that the aunt and the student both are dead now. The rest of the student's writing has been used to wrap groceries and other random stuff.

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