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The Drop of Water
Grimm Märchen

The Drop of Water - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 4 min

Of course you know what is meant by a magnifying glass– one of those round spectacle-glasses that make everything look a hundred times bigger than it is? When any one takes one of these and holds it to his eye, and looks at a drop of water from the pond yonder, he sees above a thousand wonderful creatures that are otherwise never discerned in the water. But there they are, and it is no delusion. It almost looks like a great plateful of spiders jumping about in a crowd. And how fierce they are! They tear off each other’s legs, and arms and bodies, before and behind; and yet they are merry and joyful in their way.

Now, there once was an old man whom all the people called Kribble-Krabble, for that was his name. He always wanted the best of everything, and when he could not manage it otherwise, he did it by magic.

There he sat one day, and held his magnifying-glass to his eye, and looked at a drop of water that had been taken out of a puddle by the ditch. But what a kribbling and krabbling was there! All the thousands of little creatures hopped and sprang and tugged at one another, and ate each other up.

„That is horrible!“ said old Kribble-Krabble. „Can one not persuade them to live in peace and quietness, so that each one may mind his own business?“ And he thought it over and over, but it would not do, and so he had recourse to magic. „I must give them color, that they may be seen more plainly,“ said he; and he poured something like a little drop of red wine into the drop of water, but it was witches‘ blood from the lobes of the ear, the finest kind, at ninepence a drop. And now the wonderful little creatures were pink all over. It looked like a whole town of naked wild men.

„What have you there?“ asked another old magician, who had no name– and that was the best thing about him.

„Yes, if you can guess what it is,“ said Kribble-Krabble, „I’ll make you a present of it.“ But it is not so easy to find out if one does not know.

And the magician who had no name looked through the magnifying-glass. It looked really like a great town reflected there, in which all the people were running about without clothes. It was terrible! But it was still more terrible to see how one beat and pushed the other, and bit and hacked, and tugged and mauled him. Those at the top were being pulled down, and those at the bottom were struggling upwards. „Look! look! his leg is longer than mine! Bah! Away with it! There is one who has a little bruise. It hurts him, but it shall hurt him still more.“ And they hacked away at him, and they pulled at him, and ate him up, because of the little bruise. And there was one sitting as still as any little maiden, and wishing only for peace and quietness. But now she had to come out, and they tugged at her, and pulled her about, and ate her up.

„That’s funny!“ said the magician.

„Yes; but what do you think it is?“ said Kribble-Krabble. „Can you find that out?“

„Why, one can see that easily enough,“ said the other. „That’s Paris, or some other great city, for they’re all alike. It’s a great city!“

„It’s a drop of puddle water!“ said Kribble-Krabble.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The drop of water“

„The Drop of Water“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, first published in 1866. The story is a cautionary tale about the consequences of greed and vanity, featuring an alchemist who seeks power through a seemingly insignificant drop of water.

The backgrounds of „The Drop of Water“ are rooted in Andersen’s fascination with both science and the supernatural, as well as the moral implications of human behavior. Alchemy, a proto-scientific and philosophical practice that sought to transform base metals into gold and discover the elixir of life, was popular in Europe during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Andersen’s interest in alchemy and the natural sciences likely influenced the creation of this story.

Moreover, Andersen’s fairy tales often contain moral lessons, exploring themes such as vanity, greed, and the pursuit of power. „The Drop of Water“ serves as a reminder that the desire for material wealth and status can lead to disastrous consequences. The story reflects the societal norms and values of 19th-century Denmark, where moral lessons were often conveyed through literature and folklore.

Lastly, the story highlights the interconnectedness of all living things and the environment, emphasizing the significance of even the smallest elements of nature. This theme, present in many of Andersen’s works, demonstrates his appreciation for the natural world and its delicate balance.

Through its fantastical narrative and intriguing characters, „The Drop of Water“ offers readers a thought-provoking exploration of the consequences of greed, vanity, and the pursuit of power, as well as the importance of respecting the natural world.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The drop of water“

„The Drop of Water“ by Hans Christian Andersen is a lesser-known fairy tale that offers readers several interpretations and lessons, focusing on themes such as greed, vanity, the consequences of seeking power, and the importance of respecting the natural world. Some key interpretations of the story include:

Greed and Vanity: The story serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of greed and vanity. The alchemist’s desire for power and material wealth ultimately leads to his own downfall, showcasing the destructive nature of these traits and the importance of cultivating humility and contentment.

The Consequences of Seeking Power: „The Drop of Water“ illustrates the potential consequences of seeking power, especially when it comes at the expense of others or the natural world. The alchemist’s quest for power ends in disaster, demonstrating that the pursuit of power for its own sake can have far-reaching and negative consequences.

The Interconnectedness of Nature: The story highlights the interconnectedness of all living things and their environment, showing how even the smallest elements of nature have a significant impact on the world. The drop of water, despite its seemingly insignificant size, has the power to change the alchemist’s life and the course of events. This theme encourages readers to appreciate and respect the delicate balance of the natural world.

The Limits of Human Knowledge: Andersen’s tale also touches on the limits of human knowledge and the potential dangers of attempting to manipulate the natural world. The alchemist’s efforts to harness the power of the drop of water ultimately prove futile, suggesting that there are some aspects of nature that are beyond human understanding and control.

The Role of Fate and Chance: „The Drop of Water“ can also be interpreted as a commentary on the role of fate and chance in human lives. The seemingly random discovery of the drop of water leads to a series of events that significantly impact the alchemist’s life, illustrating the unpredictable nature of life and the role that chance encounters can play in shaping our destinies.

Through its intriguing narrative and cautionary themes, „The Drop of Water“ offers readers a thought-provoking exploration of the consequences of greed, vanity, and the pursuit of power, as well as the importance of respecting the natural world and the interconnectedness of all living things.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The drop of water“

„The Drop of Water“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, and as such, it has not been widely adapted into various forms like some of his more famous works. However, there have been a few adaptations of the story over the years, such as:

Children’s Books: The story has been adapted into illustrated children’s books, with different artists providing their own unique interpretations of the characters and settings. These illustrated versions make the story more accessible for younger readers while still conveying the important themes of greed, vanity, and the consequences of seeking power.

Animated Shorts: Although not as well-known as some of Andersen’s other tales, „The Drop of Water“ has been adapted into animated shorts. These adaptations bring the story to life through engaging visuals and animation, capturing the attention of audiences and highlighting the story’s themes and moral lessons.

Radio Programs: Radio adaptations of „The Drop of Water“ have been produced, with narrators bringing the story to life through engaging storytelling and sound design. These adaptations allow listeners to experience the cautionary tale and its themes through an audio format.

Storytelling Performances: Storytellers have incorporated „The Drop of Water“ into their performances, sharing Andersen’s tale through oral storytelling. These performances often feature engaging narration and emphasize the themes and messages of the story for audiences.

While „The Drop of Water“ may not have been adapted as extensively as some of Andersen’s more famous works, these adaptations showcase the enduring appeal of the story and its themes of greed, vanity, and the importance of respecting the natural world.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The drop of water“

„The Drop of Water“ by Hans Christian Andersen has inspired several adaptations in various media. Here are a few examples:

Animated Short Film: In 1981, a 20-minute animated short film adaptation of „The Drop of Water“ was released in Denmark. The film was directed by Jannik Hastrup and featured music by Flemming Quist Møller. It follows the story of the drop of water as it travels through different environments and encounters various creatures.

Children’s Book: In 2011, a children’s book adaptation of „The Drop of Water“ was published by Barefoot Books. The book was illustrated by artist Lena Anderson and adapted by John A. Rowe. It follows the same story as Andersen’s original, with vibrant illustrations bringing the various creatures and environments to life.

Puppet Show: In 2013, a puppet show adaptation of „The Drop of Water“ was performed at the Puppet Theater in Copenhagen. The show featured life-size puppets of the various creatures that the drop of water encounters on its journey.

Art Installation: In 2021, an art installation inspired by „The Drop of Water“ was created by the Danish artist Jeppe Hein. The installation, titled „Water Pavilion,“ features a circular pool of water surrounded by a wooden deck. Visitors can walk around the edge of the pool, interacting with the water and observing its movement.

Overall, „The Drop of Water“ has inspired adaptations that range from traditional storytelling to more experimental forms of art. Each adaptation brings its own interpretation to Andersen’s original story, highlighting different aspects of its themes and characters.

Summary of the plot

„The Drop of Water“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that explores the themes of greed, vanity, and the consequences of seeking power. The story centers around an alchemist who discovers a seemingly insignificant drop of water that he believes has the power to grant him great wealth and influence.

In the tale, the alchemist learns that the drop of water contains a magical creature, which he believes can grant him immense power and fortune. Consumed by greed and vanity, he attempts to harness the power of the creature within the water droplet by using his alchemical knowledge. However, as he tries to manipulate the drop of water, he is unable to control the creature, and his lust for power ultimately leads to his own demise.

„The Drop of Water“ serves as a cautionary tale, illustrating the dangers of greed, vanity, and the pursuit of power. The story highlights the importance of respecting the natural world and the interconnectedness of all living things, demonstrating that even the smallest elements of nature can have a significant impact on the world. Through its thought-provoking narrative and moral lessons, the tale encourages readers to be mindful of their desires and to appreciate the delicate balance of the natural world.

—————-

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The drop of water“

„The Drop of Water“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish author who lived from 1805 to 1875. Andersen is best known for his classic fairy tales, such as „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ „The Emperor’s New Clothes,“ and „The Snow Queen.“ His stories often contain moral lessons and commentaries on human nature, society, and the complexities of life.

Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales have been translated into more than 150 languages and have become an integral part of world literature. Andersen’s works were initially published between 1835 and 1872, with „The Drop of Water“ appearing in the 19th-century collection of his fairy tales.

Andersen drew inspiration from various sources, including folklore, mythology, and his own life experiences. His stories often feature elements of magic and fantasy, as well as the exploration of human emotions and relationships. Despite being primarily targeted at children, Andersen’s tales have a timeless appeal that continues to resonate with readers of all ages.

In „The Drop of Water,“ Andersen uses the motif of the magnifying glass and the microscopic world it reveals to convey a deeper message about human nature, society, and the consequences of meddling with forces beyond our understanding. The story offers a glimpse into the author’s fascination with the natural world and his keen observations of human behavior.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The drop of water“

„The Drop of Water“ by Hans Christian Andersen can be interpreted in various ways, with some key themes emerging:

Human nature and society: The story highlights the chaotic and violent nature of both the microscopic creatures and the human beings living in a great city. This parallel suggests that competition, aggression, and the struggle for power are inherent aspects of life, regardless of scale or complexity. It serves as a commentary on the darker aspects of human nature and the way people behave in a society where everyone is vying for a better position.

Illusion and reality: The tale showcases the power of the magnifying glass to reveal a hidden world within a seemingly ordinary drop of water. This idea can be extended to the human experience, where our perceptions are often limited by our senses and what we see may not always be the complete reality. The story encourages readers to look beyond the surface and seek a deeper understanding of the world around them.

The dangers of meddling: Kribble-Krabble’s decision to use magic to make the water creatures more visible can be interpreted as a warning against meddling with natural processes. By interfering, he inadvertently intensifies the violence among the creatures. This theme cautions against the potential consequences of tampering with nature or trying to control things beyond our understanding.

Power and corruption: The story shows how those who have power (in this case, the magicians) can be tempted to use it for their own purposes, often with unintended consequences. Kribble-Krabble’s use of magic to manipulate the creatures in the water drop is an example of how power can be misused, highlighting the need for responsibility and restraint.

Overall, „The Drop of Water“ can be interpreted as a cautionary tale about human nature, the complexities of society, and the potential dangers of wielding power. It challenges readers to examine their own perceptions, behaviors, and values and to be mindful of the consequences of their actions.

Summary of the plot

„The Drop of Water“ is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that explores the world of microscopic creatures and human nature through the perspective of two old magicians. The story begins with an explanation of a magnifying glass and its ability to reveal thousands of tiny creatures that inhabit a drop of water. These creatures are fierce, tearing each other apart, yet they are also merry and joyful.

The protagonist, an old man named Kribble-Krabble, is known for always wanting the best of everything and resorting to magic when necessary. One day, he uses his magnifying glass to examine a drop of water taken from a puddle by a ditch. He is disturbed by the violent interactions among the creatures and wonders if they can be persuaded to live in peace. Unable to find a solution, he decides to use magic and adds witches‘ blood to the water to make the creatures more visible. The result is a vivid scene resembling a town of naked wild men.

Another old magician, who has no name, becomes curious about Kribble-Krabble’s discovery. Kribble-Krabble challenges him to guess what it is, promising to give it to him if he can. The nameless magician peers through the magnifying glass and sees a chaotic scene, with people attacking each other in a brutal, merciless manner. He believes it must be a representation of a great city, such as Paris, as all big cities are alike in their cruelty and disorder. Kribble-Krabble then reveals that the scene is, in fact, just a drop of puddle water.

The story draws a parallel between the microcosm of the water creatures and the macrocosm of human society, suggesting that, despite our differences in scale, we share an innate propensity for violence, competition, and chaos.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES, IT,
Readability Index by Björnsson23.3
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index87.1
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level4.3
Gunning Fog Index6.9
Coleman–Liau Index7.7
SMOG Index7.6
Automated Readability Index3.7
Character Count3.145
Letter Count2.388
Sentence Count47
Word Count598
Average Words per Sentence12,72
Words with more than 6 letters63
Percentage of long words10.5%
Number of Syllables755
Average Syllables per Word1,26
Words with three Syllables27
Percentage Words with three Syllables4.5%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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