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, the afterlife, and sin (which gets so much attention that we gave it its own Theme section). Andersen reflects on what it takes to get into heaven, the various wicked things people do (that you shouldn't try at home!), and the nature of God, love, and forgiveness. Since he was writing in the 1800s, none of this surprises us. But, if you try to imagine someone publishing stories like this today, with such an obvious religious bent, we're guessing they'd be shelved in a special religious section of a bookstore, rather than having the broad appeal we tend to associate with Andersen's work… Or would they? Ann Lammott is pretty popular, right?
Questions About Religion
Which aspects of Christianity does Andersen write about the most?
Do you agree with the way Andersen represents Christian figures in his writing? Why or why not?
How would Andersen's stories hold up if you removed all religious references from them? What might you use to patch up the holes left by religious themes?
Given what we've told you about Andersen's life, why do you think Christianity resonated with him so much?
Chew on This
Andersen's vision of Christianity is ultimately optimistic.