OK, so now that we’ve discussed these tales, included how they’ve been changed, what version is your favorite?
Let’s have a poll!
Feel free to explain your answer in the comments!
As well as adaptations and re-tellings:
First off: If you haven’t seen the 1946 movie that’s based on Andersen’s story, do it now! It’s an incredible film. Yes, it might be hard to find. It’s also a Criterion Collection DVD and those are pricey. But if you love dance or the performing arts, it’s a must-have.
Today, however, we’ll talk about the Andersen story. Andersen said that the idea was taken from life. His father was a cobbler, and a wealthy customer wanted a pair of red silk shoes for her daughter. The customer sent him the material to be used, and the cobbler carefully made a pair of shoes to her specifications. However, when the woman came to pick them up, she said they were nothing by trash and that he had ruined her silk. Andersen’s father replied that he might as well ruin his leather, too, and cut up the shoes.
The Red Shoes, published in 1845, tells the story of a girl named Karen, an peasant girl who is adopted by a wealthy old woman after her mother’s death. Before her adoption, Karen had a rough, worn pair of red shoes that she had made out of a piece of old cloth. But now, Karen wants a pair of red shoes, fit for a princess, and convinces her new mother to buying her a gorgeous pair of red shoes to replace the tattered pair. Karen wears the shoes to her confirmation ceremony, where she pays no attention to the service and instead indulges her vanity. She continues to do this regardless of her mother’s disapproval and stares from the congregation.
Karen’s mother becomes ill, but instead of staying home with her, Karen attends a party, wearing her shoes. A soldier appears and tells her she has beautiful dancing shoes. At this, Karen begins to dance, but finds she cannot stop. The shoes take over, and she dances night and day, without rest. She dances in all weather conditions, through rough brambles that tear her skin, and even misses her adopted mother’s funeral, all because of the tyrannical shoes. An angel appears to her, wielding a heavenly sword, and Karen begs him to release her from the shoe’s power, but the angel refuses, condemning her to dance until she dies as a warning to other vain children.
Karen finds an executioner and begs him to chop off her feet so she can be free of the shoes. He does so, and the shows continue to dance, even separated from Karen’s body. The executioner gives her a pair of wooden feet, and crutches. Thinking she has suffered enough, she heads to a church to pray for forgiveness, but she cannot enter–her dancing feet in the red shoes bar the way. She tries again next Sunday, but still the feet do not allow her passage.
Karen gets a job as the parsonage’s maid, but she doesn’t attempt to go to church again. Instead, she sits alone and prays to God for help. The angel she had seen previously re-appears, now bearing a bouquet of roses, and gives Karen the mercy she asked for. Her heart becomes so filled with joy that it bursts, and she is taken up to heaven, where no one mentions the red shoes.
In the film The Red Shoes, Andersen’s story is the pivotal ballet in the plot, rocketing dancer Vicki Page to international fame. But the shoes are also symbolic, in that Vicki has to chose between her dancing, or the love of her life, Julian, the composer and conductor for the ballet company. Eventually, the shoes drive her to her death, just as they would have done for Andersen’s Karen.
The last of the “big three” fairy tale writers, as least as we know them here, is Hans Christian Andersen.
Hans Christian Andersen’s stories are the most spiritual, most obviously “Christian”, so to speak; almost all of his tales invoke God in some way, and quite explicitly.
Andersen was born April 2, 1805, and was an only child. There is some speculation that he was an illegitimate son of the Danish Royal Family. Originally accepted to the Royal Danish Theater because of his excellent boy soprano, he seriously began to pursue poetry once his voice changed.
During 1835, Andersen published his first volume of his Fairy Tales. More stories were published in 1836 and 1837. Although the quality of the stories (like those of many authors) was not recognized immediately, they eventually became a worldwide favorite, being translated into more than 150 languages. However, by the time of his death in 1875, the people of Denmark had embraced his art and the government declared him a “national treasure.”
Some of his famous tales are:
We’ll explore several of these tales over the next few posts: The Snow Queen (since it is being adapted into a feature film by Disney), The Little Mermaid, and The Red Shoes.