Anderson’s story shows the young girl having visions. Through them Anderson gives didactic and moralistic lessons. Discuss.
This story is said to have taken place in a town around the early 20th Century. The story consists of a small girl no older than eleven, sent out to sell matches, which during that time was considered a form of begging. It is the dead of winter and she has little to keep her warm. Her ill fitting shoes had been taken from her, and with the fear of going home only to be beaten for her unsuccessful sales, she curls up in the cold. As she is struggling to keep warm all she can contemplate is the thought of lighting one small match. Then, as she does so, she is filled with feelings of warmth and safety as she sits beneath a large iron stove. She continues to light matches and get extraordinary visions, each one better than before.
During the early 20th century many people paid no mind to the poor “[since] begging was illegal during Andersen’s time the poor would make matches and sell them on the street as a front for their actual begging” Child abuse, was also common during this time.
As the girl lights her first match, she sees a vision of a large warm iron stove. But soon the stove disappears. All that is left are the gray/black remains of a burnt-out match. “Like black, gray is used as a colour of mourning as well as a colour of formality”. This shows that before the little girl has reached her fate the signs of mourning are already presenting themselves.
During the Second vision Hans Christian Anderson wrote of a magical New Years Eve Feast that any poor hungry child would be overjoyed to partake in, he said, “where the light fell on the wall, there the wall became transparent like a veil, so that she could see into the room. On the table was spread a snow-white tablecloth; upon it was a splendid porcelain service, and the roast goose was steaming famously with its stuffing of apple and dried plums. And what was still more capital to behold was, the goose hopped down from the dish, reeled about on the floor with knife and fork in its breast, till it came up to the poor little girl; when—the match went out and nothing but the thick, cold, damp wall was left behind.” It is a vision about Thanksgiving feast, a Christian belief that we must feed the hungry on such days.
During this time the poor could only dream of partaking in such an extravagant meal. Salaries were small and for some, times were very hard. This vision addresses how hungry the small girl truly is, and if she doesn’t freeze she shall surely starve.
The Third Vision of the night, only to be seen after the striking of another match, is. a magnificent Christmas tree. It is brightly light and beautifully decorated. It was the sort of tree only to be found in a very wealthy home. As the colors and lights rise, and the tree disappears, the stars become visible, and it seems as though the lights from the tree have become the stars. The little girl then sees a star fall and claims “Someone is just dead!” “For her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God”. A Creole superstition states: ‘Shooting-stars are souls escaping from purgatory: if you can make a good wish three times before the star disappears, the wish will be granted’. This is almost as if the three visions before were wishes, but it is also thought, that it is either the young girl’s soul ascending into heaven, or yet the cause for the final vision.
The small girl drew another match, and there her loving grandmother stood before her in the dark of the night, with no reservations, only kindness. The little girl knew that if the match were to run out her grandmother would disappear just like all her other wonderful visions, so in turn she struck the entire rest of the bundle on the wall. “Many near-death experiences around the world, regardless of religious belief, involve the visitation of dead loved-ones, usually family members and close friends” The little girl pleads with her grandmother to take her back to heaven so “she took the little maiden, on her arm, and both flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety—they were with God”.
Nearly 1,876 patients were treated in American hospitals for hypothermia in 2010/ 11.This hits close to home with The Little Match Girl, seeing as how she froze to death on an icy New Years Eve. The next morning the townspeople found the girl frozen in a corner, matches in hand, smile on her face, and all they can think of is how she must have tried to warm herself. Not one person stops and thinks of the beautiful splendour the girl saw. Hans Christian Anderson believed this was a happy ending in his book to relinquish the suffering of a little girl only to be joined with her one true relative and God. Anderson’s story serves a good purpose “reminding people to be charitable and help the poor during the holidays, ..id hopefully year round, to keep young children from suffering with poverty and death.” This isn’t much of a fairy tale, more so a“folk tale for adults. These tales were often told orally during the times when the peasants could not read. They passed them down through the generations, and the folk tales were eventually illustrated and sold as fairy tales for children. In conclusion, Anderson’s short tale is not only a sad holiday story reminding us to give during the season, but a reality check.