Study Guide

Andersen's Fairy Tales Love

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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 that he suffered from one-sided feelings a lot, so we'd like to think our rabid Andersen-lovin' is some kind of karmic redemption for the poor guy. And, lucky for us, because Andersen sat around pining for this love stuff so much, his portrayals of love are actually incredibly creative and diverse. He wrote about everything from romantic love to platonic love, familial love, spiritual love, and more.

All these loves cause some of his characters suffering, but they also inspire them to accomplish great deeds. Furthermore, numerous obstacles are shown to get in the way of love, such as class differences, the desires of evil people, and God's will (even though God's supposed to be loving, go figure). So, even if his actual experiences of love were pretty one-sided, Andersen's tales make him seem like a bona fide expert on this love business.

Questions About Love

  1. Which of Andersen's characters manage to live happily ever after, and how do they do it?
  2. Does it seem to be better to have love or money in Andersen's stories? Which tales support your answer?
  3. What are the similarities and differences between earthly love and heavenly love?
  4. How would you characterize Andersen's general attitude toward love, as it emerges across several of his tales?

Chew on This

Spiritual love may be the one true love, even if it's not yours.

Love hurts, love scars, love wounds and mars any heart… but it's still the best thing since sliced bread.

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