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Grandmother
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Grandmother - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 5 min

Grandmother is very old, her face is wrinkled, and her hair is quite white; but her eyes are like two stars, and they have a mild, gentle expression in them when they look at you, which does you good. She wears a dress of heavy, rich silk, with large flowers worked on it; and it rustles when she moves. And then she can tell the most wonderful stories. Grandmother knows a great deal, for she was alive before father and mother– that’s quite certain. She has a hymn-book with large silver clasps, in which she often reads; and in the book, between the leaves, lies a rose, quite flat and dry. It is not so pretty as the roses which are standing in the glass, and yet she smiles at it most pleasantly, and tears even come into her eyes. „I wonder why grandmother looks at the withered flower in the old book that way? Do you know?“ Why, when grandmother’s tears fall upon the rose, and she is looking at it, the rose revives, and fills the room with its fragrance. The walls vanish as in a mist, and all around her is the glorious green wood, where in summer the sunlight streams through thick foliage; and grandmother, why she is young again, a charming maiden, fresh as a rose, with round, rosy cheeks, fair, bright ringlets, and a figure pretty and graceful; but the eyes, those mild, saintly eyes, are the same,– they have been left to grandmother. At her side sits a young man, tall and strong. He gives her a rose and she smiles. Grandmother cannot smile like that now. Yes, she is smiling at the memory of that day, and many thoughts and recollections of the past; but the handsome young man is gone, and the rose has withered in the old book, and grandmother is sitting there, again an old woman, looking down upon the withered rose in the book.

Grandmother is dead now. She had been sitting in her arm-chair, telling us a long, beautiful tale; and when it was finished, she said she was tired, and leaned her head back to sleep awhile. We could hear her gentle breathing as she slept; gradually it became quieter and calmer, and on her countenance beamed happiness and peace. It was as if lighted up with a ray of sunshine. She smiled once more, and then people said she was dead. She was laid in a black coffin, looking mild and beautiful in the white folds of the shrouded linen, though her eyes were closed; but every wrinkle had vanished, her hair looked white and silvery, and around her mouth lingered a sweet smile. We did not feel at all afraid to look at the corpse of her who had been such a dear, good grandmother. The hymn-book, in which the rose still lay, was placed under her head, for so she had wished it; and then they buried grandmother.

On the grave, close by the churchyard wall, they planted a rose-tree. It was soon full of roses, and the nightingale sat among the flowers, and sang over the grave. From the organ in the church sounded the music and the words of the beautiful psalms, which were written in the old book under the head of the dead one.

The moon shone down upon the grave, but the dead was not there; every child could go safely, even at night, and pluck a rose from the tree by the churchyard wall. The dead know more than we do who are living. They know what a terror would come upon us if such a strange thing were to happen, as the appearance of a dead person among us. They are better off than we are. The dead return no more. The earth has been heaped on the coffin, and it is earth only that lies within it. The leaves of the hymn-book are dust; and the rose, with all its recollections, has crumbled to dust also. But over the grave fresh roses bloom, the nightingale sings, and the organ sounds and there still lives a remembrance of old grandmother, with the loving, gentle eyes that always looked young. Eyes can never die. Ours will once again behold dear grandmother, young and beautiful as when, for the first time, she kissed the fresh, red rose, that is now dust in the grave.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „Grandmother“

„Grandmother“ is a sentimental fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen and first published in 1845. The story centers around a loving grandmother, who has passed away, and her young grandson’s memories and feelings about her.

Backgrounds and Influences:
Personal experiences: Andersen’s own experiences and emotions influenced the creation of this story. His own grandmother played an essential role in his life, especially during his childhood. The close bond between the young boy and his grandmother in the tale could be a reflection of Andersen’s fond memories of his own grandmother.

Grief and loss: „Grandmother“ explores themes of grief, loss, and the emotional impact of death on those left behind. Andersen’s experiences with the deaths of loved ones might have inspired him to write this story, as a way to express and process his feelings of grief.

The importance of memory: The story emphasizes the significance of memories and how they can provide comfort during times of sadness and loss. The young boy in the tale cherishes his memories of his grandmother and finds solace in them. This theme suggests that even when someone is no longer physically present, they can continue to live on in the hearts and minds of those who loved them.

The afterlife: Andersen’s fairy tale touches on the concept of the afterlife and the idea of reuniting with loved ones who have passed away. The story subtly alludes to the grandmother’s spirit continuing to watch over her grandson from heaven. This theme offers comfort to those dealing with the loss of a loved one, as it suggests that there may be a chance of reuniting in the afterlife.

Sentimentality: „Grandmother“ is one of Andersen’s more sentimental tales, with a focus on the emotional connection between the young boy and his grandmother. The story emphasizes the power of love and the lasting impact that a caring, nurturing figure can have on a person’s life.

In summary, „Grandmother“ is a touching fairy tale that explores themes of love, loss, grief, memory, and the afterlife. The story is likely influenced by Andersen’s own experiences and emotions, and it offers a heartfelt look at the bond between a grandmother and her grandson.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Grandmother“

„Grandmother,“ a sentimental fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, offers several themes and interpretations to ponder. Here are some possible interpretations of the story:

The power of love and connection: The bond between the young boy and his grandmother in the tale represents the deep connection and love that can exist between family members, especially between grandparents and grandchildren. The story emphasizes the lasting impact that a loving, nurturing figure can have on a person’s life.

Coping with grief and loss: „Grandmother“ explores the themes of grief and loss, highlighting the emotional impact of death on those left behind. The young boy’s memories and feelings about his grandmother serve as a reminder of the importance of cherishing and preserving memories of loved ones, even after they have passed away.

The importance of memory: The story emphasizes the significance of memories and how they can provide comfort during times of sadness and loss. The young boy in the tale cherishes his memories of his grandmother and finds solace in them. This theme highlights the idea that the memory of a loved one can help in the healing process and provide a sense of continuity and connection.

The afterlife and spiritual connections: The tale touches on the concept of the afterlife and the idea of reuniting with loved ones who have passed away. The subtle allusion to the grandmother’s spirit continuing to watch over her grandson from heaven offers comfort to those dealing with the loss of a loved one, as it suggests that there may be a chance of reuniting in the afterlife.

Sentimentality and the human experience: „Grandmother“ is one of Andersen’s more sentimental tales, with a focus on the emotional connection between the young boy and his grandmother. The story invites readers to reflect on their own relationships, the power of love, and the shared human experience of dealing with loss and grief.

In summary, „Grandmother“ is a touching fairy tale that explores themes such as love, loss, grief, memory, and the afterlife. The story offers valuable insights into the emotional bond between family members, the importance of cherishing memories, and the healing power of love.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Grandmother“

„Grandmother“ by Hans Christian Andersen may not be as well-known as some of his other fairy tales, but it has still inspired several adaptations over the years. Here are a few specific examples:

Literature adaptations:
Retellings and illustrated books: „Grandmother“ has been retold and illustrated in various children’s book collections, often as part of anthologies featuring Andersen’s works. These adaptations aim to introduce the story and its themes of love, loss, and memory to younger audiences.

Animation and short films:
„Grandmother“ (1966): An animated short film produced in the Soviet Union, directed by Lev Milchin. This adaptation uses traditional animation techniques to bring the story to life, visually representing the emotional bond between the young boy and his grandmother.

Theater and stage performances:
Dramatic adaptations: Some theatre groups have adapted „Grandmother“ as a stage play, focusing on the emotional connections and themes of the story. These performances often use minimalist sets and props, allowing the audience to engage with the characters and themes on a deeper level.

Radio dramas and audio recordings:
Radio adaptations: „Grandmother“ has been adapted into radio dramas or audio recordings, using voice acting and sound effects to create an immersive listening experience for audiences. These adaptations often emphasize the emotional aspects of the story and the themes of love, loss, and memory.

Although „Grandmother“ has not been adapted as extensively as some of Andersen’s more famous works, its emotional narrative and timeless themes continue to resonate with readers and audiences. These adaptations aim to preserve the story’s core messages and introduce them to new generations of readers and audiences.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Grandmother“

The fairy tale „Grandmother“ by Hans Christian Andersen has been adapted in various forms, including literature, film, and television. Here are some notable adaptations:

Little Red Riding Hood: As previously mentioned, „Grandmother“ has its roots in the European folktale „Little Red Riding Hood,“ and many adaptations of the story draw on this tradition. For example, the 2011 film „Red Riding Hood“ is a dark retelling of the story set in a medieval village.

Into the Woods: The 1987 musical „Into the Woods“ by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine features a number of fairy tale characters, including Little Red Riding Hood, who encounters a cunning wolf in the woods.

Hoodwinked!: The 2005 animated film „Hoodwinked!“ is a comedic retelling of the story, in which the characters‘ perspectives on the events are shown in flashbacks.

Granny: The 1999 novel „Granny“ by Anthony Horowitz is a modern retelling of the story, in which a teenage girl named Mattie sets out to visit her grandmother and encounters a mysterious stranger in the woods.

Once Upon a Time: The television series „Once Upon a Time“ features a number of fairy tale characters, including Little Red Riding Hood, who is portrayed as a werewolf.

The Company of Wolves: The 1984 film „The Company of Wolves“ is a surreal retelling of the story set in a dreamlike forest, which explores themes of sexuality and violence.

These adaptations offer a range of interpretations and perspectives on the story of „Grandmother,“ from comedic retellings to dark and surreal explorations of the themes and motifs of the original tale.

Summary of the plot

„Grandmother“ is a sentimental fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, focusing on the emotional bond between a young boy and his deceased grandmother. The story delves into themes of love, loss, memory, and the afterlife.

The tale begins with the young boy’s grandmother passing away, leaving him deeply saddened by her absence. As he grieves for her, he starts to reminisce about the time they spent together and the fond memories they created. The boy cherishes the memories of his grandmother teaching him about life, nature, and God.

One day, the boy sees a bright star in the sky, and his mother explains that when someone dies, a new star appears in the sky to take their soul to heaven. This comforts the boy, as he believes the star to be his grandmother’s spirit watching over him from heaven. The boy imagines that his grandmother has joined other loved ones who have passed away, and he envisions her in a beautiful, heavenly garden.

Throughout the story, the boy continues to remember his grandmother and the impact she had on his life. These memories provide him with comfort and solace, helping him cope with her loss. The tale ends with the notion that the love between the boy and his grandmother transcends death, and their bond remains strong, even though they are physically separated.

In summary, „Grandmother“ is a touching fairy tale that explores themes of love, loss, memory, and the afterlife. The story portrays the emotional connection between a young boy and his grandmother, emphasizing the lasting impact of love and the power of memory in healing the heart.

—————-

Backgrounds to fairy tale „Grandmother“

„Grandmother“ is a lesser-known fairy tale written by the renowned Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Born on April 2, 1805, Andersen was a prolific writer known for his children’s stories, poems, plays, and travelogues. He is best remembered for his classic fairy tales, such as „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ „The Emperor’s New Clothes,“ and „The Snow Queen.“

Andersen’s fairy tales often include elements of fantasy, with magical creatures and enchantments, and they typically convey moral lessons or deep emotional themes. His stories have been translated into multiple languages and adapted into various forms of media, including theater, film, and television.

„Grandmother,“ first published in 1845, is a tender and sentimental tale that touches upon themes of love, memory, life, and death. Like many of Andersen’s stories, it contains vivid imagery and symbolic elements that add depth and meaning to the narrative. Despite its simplicity, „Grandmother“ offers an evocative exploration of the human experience and the power of memory to connect generations.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Grandmother“/h2>

„Grandmother“ is a touching tale that offers multiple interpretations, reflecting on themes of love, memory, the passage of time, and the cycle of life and death. Here are some interpretations of the story:

Cherishing memories: The story highlights the importance of memories in our lives. The withered rose in the hymn-book serves as a symbol of Grandmother’s treasured past and the love she experienced in her youth. By embracing these memories, she is able to find happiness and maintain a connection to her younger self.

The cycle of life and death: The tale explores the inevitability of aging and death, as well as the beauty that can be found in the natural cycle of life. The roses that bloom around Grandmother’s grave symbolize the renewal of life and the continuity of love, even after death.

The power of love: Love is a recurring theme in the story, as demonstrated through the loving bond between Grandmother and her family, as well as her romantic connection with the young man in her memories. Love transcends time and physical appearances, touching the lives of those who experience it and those who remember it.

The connection between the living and the dead: The story emphasizes the enduring connection between the living and the dead through shared memories and love. The roses that grow near Grandmother’s grave and the nightingale’s song serve as a bridge between the past and the present, offering comfort and a sense of continuity to those left behind.

The transformative power of art and nature: The tale highlights the power of art, represented by the organ music and the nightingale’s song, and nature, symbolized by the roses, to heal, comfort, and evoke emotions. These elements create a connection to Grandmother, preserving her memory and bringing solace to those who mourn her passing.

Summary of the plot

„Grandmother“ is a poignant fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that celebrates the life, memories, and love of an old woman, referred to as Grandmother. She is described as having a kind and gentle appearance, with eyes like stars that convey a sense of warmth and comfort. Grandmother is knowledgeable and loves to tell wonderful stories, often reading from her hymn-book adorned with large silver clasps. Within the pages of this book lies a withered rose, which, when looked upon by Grandmother, magically comes to life and fills the room with its fragrance.

This rose evokes a memory of her youth, when she was a beautiful maiden with rosy cheeks and bright ringlets. In this memory, a young, tall, and strong man gives her a rose, which she smiles at tenderly. However, as the memory fades, Grandmother returns to her old age, and the rose in the book withers once more.

When Grandmother passes away, she is buried with the hymn-book placed under her head, as per her wishes. A rose tree is planted near her grave, quickly growing full of roses and attracting a nightingale that sings over her resting place. The church’s organ music and the words of the beautiful psalms resonate, honoring Grandmother’s memory.

The moon shines on the grave, but the story reminds us that the dead do not return, as their appearance would bring terror to the living. Instead, they remain in our memories and hearts. The tale concludes with the comforting notion that the eyes, the windows to the soul, never die, and one day we will be reunited with our loved ones, like Grandmother, in a beautiful and everlasting embrace.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES,
Readability Index by Björnsson31.6
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index78.3
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level7.6
Gunning Fog Index10.6
Coleman–Liau Index8.6
SMOG Index9.4
Automated Readability Index8.7
Character Count3.952
Letter Count3.072
Sentence Count35
Word Count741
Average Words per Sentence21,17
Words with more than 6 letters77
Percentage of long words10.4%
Number of Syllables938
Average Syllables per Word1,27
Words with three Syllables40
Percentage Words with three Syllables5.4%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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