Friday, February 6, 2009

Thoughts on Andersen’s Snow Queen

Considering Han Christian Andersen’s sexual identity confusion and his unrequited love affairs (including the singer Jenny Lind who thought of him only as a brother), several uneasy points arise from studying The Snow Queen:

There are many strong female characters but only four male characters: Kai who needs to be rescued, the prince who was raised from being a pauper by the princess, the crow who died, and the stag who acts as a beast of burden.

For all of the evil intent and Lilith-like qualities of the Snow Queen, she is never defeated, confronted, or banished. Gerda just steals Kai away after “innocence and love” break the spell. The Snow Queen’s power remains intact. Evil is not defeated by good.

The initial evil of the devil (or hobgoblin) with the splintered mirror in the first section is never confronted except in the innocence and love of Gerda. The exaltation of childhood and innocence is more in line with a belief in innate goodness rather than a Biblical understanding of being innocent as a dove.

There is no happy ending in the fairy tale sense. Gerda and Kai are older, wiser, childlike and platonic. The wedding that should end all comedies is absent.

The story is moralistic but without a moral (like in most fairy tales).

3 comments:

Rémi said...

Hey,
I know it's a bit late to answer to your post, but I just read the book and there are a few difference in translation between english and french. For example, the sentence from the Bible:

"The rose in the valley is blooming so sweet,
And angels descend there the children to greet."

is translated as:

"Les roses poussent dans la vallée où l'Enfant Jésus vient causer." ("Roses bloom in the valley where the Child Jesus come to speak")

Another difference is the word that free Kay in the Kingdom of the Snow. You wrote "innocence and love" though I read "Eternity" in the french version.

The meaning would be really different...

Thanks for your attention

Rémi(Lyon)

tabula rasa said...

There are a lot of levels of reading a fairytale, that's what made Andersen accepted to the whole world till now. certainly not the moralistic is the most important for children and adult reader, morality is the disaster of fairytale. my view is in the power of symbolism and archetypes like in the ancient tragedy and it's psychological function (see also Bruno Bettelheim). Not certainly is important whether fairytale presents males or females, whereas those are just symbols that can easily be decoded.

E said...

In this fairy tale we see the perfect love as it is described in New Testament by Apostle Paul in the famous hymn of love. It is a love without ego/egoism (which is the enemy of love and the basic characeristic of Satan) and its effects like obsession, desire, jealousy, possessiveness, suspiciousness. Gerda is repleted of faith, hope and love, despite the discouraging circumstances, like only a innocent child could be. Gerda's love delivers Key's heart from freeze and darkness of intellectualism. Love saves Key's soul keeping it connected to love itself (like Jesus Christ(=Love) said :I am the vineyard you are the arbors if you stay attached to me you will live -something like that). So in fact, there is a really happy end because true love (=without ego)dominate protagonists' hearts. It is not a platonic love it is a "in-Christ" Love-divine-soullove.