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The Emperor’s New Clothes
The Emperor’s New Clothes Märchen

The Emperor’s New Clothes - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 12 min

Many, many years ago lived an emperor, who thought so much of new clothes that he spent all his money in order to obtain them. His only ambition was to be always well dressed. He did not care for his soldiers, and the theatre did not amuse him. The only thing, in fact, he thought anything of was to drive out and show a new suit of clothes. He had a coat for every hour of the day; and as one would say of a king „He is in his cabinet,“ so one could say of him, „The emperor is in his dressing-room.“

The great city where he resided was very gay; every day many strangers from all parts of the globe arrived. One day two swindlers came to this city. They made people believe that they were weavers, and declared they could manufacture the finest cloth to be imagined. Their colours and patterns, they said, were not only exceptionally beautiful, but the clothes made of their material possessed the wonderful quality of being invisible to any man who was unfit for his office or unpardonably stupid.

„That must be wonderful cloth,“ thought the emperor. „If I were to be dressed in a suit made of this cloth I should be able to find out which men in my empire were unfit for their places, and I could distinguish the clever from the stupid. I must have this cloth woven for me without delay.“ And he gave a large sum of money to the swindlers, in advance, that they should set to work without any loss of time. They set up two looms, and pretended to be very hard at work, but they did nothing whatever on the looms. They asked for the finest silk and the most precious gold-cloth; all they got they did away with, and worked at the empty looms till late at night.

„I should very much like to know how they are getting on with the cloth,“ thought the emperor. But he felt rather uneasy when he remembered that he who was not fit for his office could not see it. Personally, he was of opinion that he had nothing to fear, yet he thought it advisable to send somebody else first to see how matters stood. Everybody in the town knew what a remarkable quality the stuff possessed, and all were anxious to see how bad or stupid their neighbours were.

„I shall send my honest old minister to the weavers,“ thought the emperor. „He can judge best how the stuff looks, for he is intelligent, and nobody understands his office better than he.“

The good old minister went into the room where the swindlers sat before the empty looms. „Heaven preserve us!“ he thought, and opened his eyes wide, „I cannot see anything at all,“ but he did not say so.

The Emperor's New Clothes Fairy TaleImage: Paul Hey (1867 – 1952)

Both swindlers requested him to come near, and asked him if he did not admire the exquisite pattern and the beautiful colours, pointing to the empty looms. The poor old minister tried his very best, but he could see nothing, for there was nothing to be seen. „Oh dear,“ he thought, „can I be so stupid? I should never have thought so, and nobody must know it! Is it possible that I am not fit for my office? No, no, I cannot say that I was unable to see the cloth.“

„Now, have you got nothing to say?“ said one of the swindlers, while he pretended to be busily weaving.

„Oh, it is very pretty, exceedingly beautiful,“ replied the old minister looking through his glasses. „What a beautiful pattern, what brilliant colours! I shall tell the emperor that I like the cloth very much.“

„We are pleased to hear that,“ said the two weavers, and described to him the colours and explained the curious pattern. The old minister listened attentively, that he might relate to the emperor what they said; and so he did.

Now the swindlers asked for more money, silk and gold-cloth, which they required for weaving. They kept everything for themselves, and not a thread came near the loom, but they continued, as hitherto, to work at the empty looms.

Soon afterwards the emperor sent another honest courtier to the weavers to see how they were getting on, and if the cloth was nearly finished. Like the old minister, he looked and looked but could see nothing, as there was nothing to be seen.

„Is it not a beautiful piece of cloth?“ asked the two swindlers, showing and explaining the magnificent pattern, which, however, did not exist.

„I am not stupid,“ said the man. „It is therefore my good appointment for which I am not fit. It is very strange, but I must not let any one know it;“ and he praised the cloth, which he did not see, and expressed his joy at the beautiful colours and the fine pattern. „It is very excellent,“ he said to the emperor.

The Emperor's New Clothes Fairy TaleImage: Paul Hey (1867 – 1952)

Everybody in the whole town talked about the precious cloth. At last the emperor wished to see it himself, while it was still on the loom. With a number of courtiers, including the two who had already been there, he went to the two clever swindlers, who now worked as hard as they could, but without using any thread.

„Is it not magnificent?“ said the two old statesmen who had been there before. „Your Majesty must admire the colours and the pattern.“ And then they pointed to the empty looms, for they imagined the others could see the cloth.

„What is this?“ thought the emperor, „I do not see anything at all. That is terrible! Am I stupid? Am I unfit to be emperor? That would indeed be the most dreadful thing that could happen to me.“

„Really,“ he said, turning to the weavers, „your cloth has our most gracious approval;“ and nodding contentedly he looked at the empty loom, for he did not like to say that he saw nothing. All his attendants, who were with him, looked and looked, and although they could not see anything more than the others, they said, like the emperor, „It is very beautiful.“ And all advised him to wear the new magnificent clothes at a great procession which was soon to take place. „It is magnificent, beautiful, excellent,“ one heard them say; everybody seemed to be delighted, and the emperor appointed the two swindlers „Imperial Court weavers.“

The whole night previous to the day on which the procession was to take place, the swindlers pretended to work, and burned more than sixteen candles. People should see that they were busy to finish the emperor’s new suit. They pretended to take the cloth from the loom, and worked about in the air with big scissors, and sewed with needles without thread, and said at last: „The emperor’s new suit is ready now.“

The emperor and all his barons then came to the hall. The swindlers held their arms up as if they held something in their hands and said: „These are the trousers!“ – „This is the coat!“ and „Here is the cloak!“ and so on. „They are all as light as a cobweb, and one must feel as if one had nothing at all upon the body; but that is just the beauty of them.“

„Indeed!“ said all the courtiers; but they could not see anything, for there was nothing to be seen.

„Does it please your Majesty now to graciously undress,“ said the swindlers, „that we may assist your Majesty in putting on the new suit before the large looking-glass?“

The emperor undressed, and the swindlers pretended to put the new suit upon him, one piece after another; and the emperor looked at himself in the glass from every side.

„How well they look! How well they fit!“ said all. „What a beautiful pattern! What fine colours! That is a magnificent suit of clothes!“

The master of the ceremonies announced that the bearers of the canopy, which was to be carried in the procession, were ready.

„I am ready,“ said the emperor. „Does not my suit fit me marvellously?“ Then he turned once more to the looking-glass, that people should think he admired his garments.

The chamberlains, who were to carry the train, stretched their hands to the ground as if they lifted up a train, and pretended to hold something in their hands. They did not like people to know that they could not see anything.

The emperor marched in the procession under the beautiful canopy, and all who saw him in the street and out of the windows exclaimed: „Indeed, the emperor’s new suit is incomparable! What a long train he has! How well it fits him!“ Nobody wished to let others know he saw nothing, for then he would have been unfit for his office or too stupid. Never emperor’s clothes were more admired.

„But he has nothing on at all,“ said a little child at last.

The Emperor's New Clothes Fairy TaleImage: Paul Hey (1867 – 1952)

„Good heavens! listen to the voice of an innocent child,“ said the father, and one whispered to the other what the child had said.

„But he has nothing on at all,“ cried at last the whole people. That made a deep impression upon the emperor, for it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought to himself, „Now I must bear up to the end.“ And the chamberlains walked with still greater dignity, as if they carried the train which did not exist.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The Emperor’s New Clothes“

„The Emperor’s New Clothes“ is a famous fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, first published in 1837. The story tells of a vain emperor who is swindled by two weavers who claim to create a magnificent set of clothes that are invisible to anyone who is either stupid or unfit for their position. The tale has become a classic, known for its satirical portrayal of vanity, conformity, and the power of social pressure.

Background and Origins:

Literary influences: Andersen drew inspiration from various sources, including folktales, legends, and his own imagination. „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ has a similar structure to some traditional folktales, featuring a trickster character and a moral lesson. The story may have been influenced by an earlier Spanish tale called „The Moorish Cloth,“ which involves a similar premise of invisible clothing.

Social commentary: „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ serves as a satirical commentary on vanity, social conformity, and the willingness of people to deceive themselves and others in order to maintain appearances. In this way, the story serves as a critique of societal norms and expectations, and it encourages readers to question authority and think for themselves.

Personal experiences: Like many of his other works, Andersen’s own life experiences likely influenced the themes and characters in „The Emperor’s New Clothes.“ Andersen was known for his keen observations of human nature and his ability to depict the flaws and virtues of his characters in a relatable way. The story’s focus on vanity, deception, and the consequences of conforming to societal pressures may have been informed by Andersen’s own experiences and observations.

Moral lessons: „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ is often regarded as a cautionary tale that teaches important moral lessons. The story serves as a reminder of the dangers of vanity, the importance of honesty, and the power of independent thought. By exposing the folly of the emperor and his subjects, Andersen encourages readers to critically evaluate the actions and beliefs of those around them.

Universal appeal: The story’s enduring popularity can be attributed to its universal themes and relatable characters. The tale’s exploration of vanity, deception, and the human tendency to conform to societal expectations has resonated with readers across generations and cultures, making „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ a timeless classic.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The Emperor’s New Clothes“

„The Emperor’s New Clothes“ by Hans Christian Andersen is a satirical tale that offers various interpretations and lessons, touching on themes such as vanity, conformity, and deception. Some key interpretations of the story include:

The dangers of vanity: The emperor’s excessive concern for his appearance and reputation leads him to fall for the weavers‘ deception. This highlights the pitfalls of vanity and the importance of focusing on one’s character and actions rather than superficial appearances.

The power of social conformity: The tale emphasizes the influence of social pressure and the willingness of people to conform to societal expectations, even when they know the truth. The courtiers and townspeople are afraid to admit that they cannot see the clothes, fearing ridicule and ostracization. The story encourages readers to think critically and question the status quo.

The importance of honesty: The tale demonstrates the value of honesty and the consequences of deception. The weavers deceive the emperor and his court, leading to their embarrassment when the truth is finally revealed. The story serves as a reminder to be honest, even when it may be uncomfortable or unpopular.

The courage of speaking the truth: The child in the story is the only one who dares to speak the truth about the emperor’s lack of clothing. This highlights the importance of speaking up against dishonesty and falsehoods, even when it may be difficult or met with resistance.

The folly of blind authority: The emperor and his court blindly trust the weavers and their claims, leading to their humiliation. The story warns against unquestioning obedience to authority figures and encourages readers to use their own judgment and critical thinking.

The power of perception and illusion: The story explores the idea that perception can be manipulated, and people can be convinced to believe in things that are not true. The weavers use the emperor’s vanity and the fear of social consequences to create the illusion of the invisible clothes, showing how easily people can be deceived.

These various interpretations of „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ make it a rich and thought-provoking tale that continues to resonate with readers today. The story serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us to question authority, think critically, and value honesty and truth over appearances and conformity.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The Emperor’s New Clothes“

„The Emperor’s New Clothes“ by Hans Christian Andersen has been adapted numerous times across various forms of media, including film, theater, literature, and television. Some specific examples include:

Film: A number of film adaptations of „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ have been produced over the years. One example is the 1966 animated short film by Lev Atamanov, a Russian adaptation called „The King’s New Clothes.“ Another is a 1987 American animated television special called „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ produced by Hanna-Barbera.

Theater: The tale has been adapted for the stage in various forms, including plays, musicals, and ballets. One notable adaptation is the 2000 musical „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ by Alan Schmuckler and David Holstein. In 2016, the New York City Ballet presented „The Most Incredible Thing,“ a ballet based on „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ featuring music by Pet Shop Boys and choreography by Javier de Frutos.

Literature: Numerous retellings and adaptations of the story have been published in children’s books, often featuring illustrations that bring the story to life. Some authors have also created modern or culturally specific versions of the story, such as „The Emperor’s New Threads“ by Teresa Robeson, which sets the story in China.

Television: „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ has been adapted for television in various formats, including animated series, live-action productions, and even puppet shows. One example is a 1990 episode of the popular children’s television series „Faerie Tale Theater“ called „The Emperor’s New Clothes,“ starring Dick Shawn as the Emperor and featuring the voices of Art Carney and Alan Arkin.

Music: The tale has inspired numerous songs and musical compositions, including a 1966 opera by Hans Werner Henze called „Der junge Lord“ and an orchestral work by Michael Daugherty called „The Emperor’s New Clothes,“ which premiered in 1995.

Modern adaptations and parodies: The story’s themes have been reimagined and parodied in various forms, including political cartoons, satirical essays, and contemporary fiction. One example is the 2001 film „The Emperor’s New Groove,“ a Disney animated feature that uses the original story as a loose basis for a comedic adventure featuring an arrogant emperor transformed into a llama.

These adaptations of „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ demonstrate the enduring popularity and relevance of the tale, which continues to captivate audiences with its timeless themes of vanity, honesty, and the power of social pressure.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The Emperor’s New Clothes“

„The Emperor’s New Clothes“ has been adapted into various forms of media over the years, including:

Films: There have been numerous film adaptations of the story, both live-action and animated. Some notable examples include the 1953 animated short film by Walt Disney Productions, the 1987 television film by Danny Kaye, and the 2001 animated film by Toonz Animation India.

Stage plays and musicals: „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ has also been adapted into stage plays and musicals, often with added songs and dance numbers. Some notable examples include the 1956 musical by Jay Thompson, the 2006 musical by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, and the 2012 play by Kathryn Schultz Miller.

Children’s books: The story has been adapted into numerous children’s books, often with illustrations that bring the characters and setting to life. Some notable examples include the 1964 book by Remy Charlip, the 1985 book by Robert Sabuda, and the 2018 book by Hans Christian Andersen and Svend Otto S.

TV shows: „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ has also been adapted into various television shows, including an episode of the animated series „Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child“ and an episode of the animated series „The Fairy Tale Detectives“.

Other adaptations: In addition to these adaptations, „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ has also been adapted into other forms of media, including radio dramas, comic books, and even video games.

Overall, the enduring popularity of „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ has led to numerous adaptations that have brought the story to new audiences and reimagined it for new generations.

Summary of the plot

„The Emperor’s New Clothes“ is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a vain emperor who is obsessed with his appearance and clothes. Two swindlers posing as skilled weavers arrive in the emperor’s kingdom, claiming that they can make an extraordinary fabric that is invisible to anyone who is stupid or unfit for their position.

The emperor, eager to wear such a unique garment, pays the swindlers a hefty sum to create a suit made from this magical fabric. The swindlers pretend to weave the fabric and sew the suit, but in reality, they produce nothing. The emperor’s ministers and courtiers, afraid of appearing foolish or unfit for their positions, pretend they can see the non-existent fabric and praise its beauty.

When the swindlers announce that the suit is finished, the emperor parades through the city wearing the „new clothes.“ The townspeople, also fearing they may be considered stupid or unfit, pretend to admire the invisible clothes, showering the emperor with compliments.

Finally, a young child in the crowd, who is not concerned about societal expectations, speaks up and declares that the emperor is not wearing any clothes at all. Slowly, the rest of the crowd begins to acknowledge the truth, and the emperor realizes he has been swindled. However, unwilling to admit his own foolishness, the emperor continues the parade with false pride, as the townspeople laugh at the spectacle.

The story serves as a cautionary tale about vanity, conformity, and the importance of honesty and critical thinking in the face of social pressure.

———-

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The Emperor’s New Clothes“

„The Emperor’s New Clothes“ is a short story written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who is best known for his fairy tales. The story was first published in 1837 as part of Andersen’s third collection of tales for children. Hans Christian Andersen was born on April 2, 1805, in Odense, Denmark, and died on August 4, 1875, in Copenhagen. Besides „The Emperor’s New Clothes,“ Andersen is famous for many other classic fairy tales, such as „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ „The Snow Queen,“ „Thumbelina,“ and „The Princess and the Pea.“

Andersen’s stories often contain moral lessons and have been translated into numerous languages, making him one of the most widely read authors in the world. His stories have been adapted into various forms of media, including plays, films, and animated movies. Andersen’s works are known for their imaginative plots, memorable characters, and emotional depth, often touching on themes of transformation, innocence, and the human experience.

„The Emperor’s New Clothes“ stands out as a satirical tale that critiques vanity, pride, and societal conformity. The story’s enduring popularity can be attributed to its timeless message, which continues to resonate with readers today. It serves as a reminder to question authority, be honest, and value truth over appearances.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The Emperor’s New Clothes“

„The Emperor’s New Clothes“ has been interpreted in various ways, often highlighting themes such as vanity, pride, and the fear of appearing foolish. Here are some common interpretations of the story:

The danger of vanity and pride: The emperor’s obsession with his appearance and clothing leads to his ultimate humiliation. His vanity makes him an easy target for the swindlers and results in a costly mistake.

The power of social conformity: The story illustrates how people are often afraid to challenge the status quo or express a dissenting opinion for fear of ridicule or being seen as unfit. Both the ministers and the townspeople pretend to see the non-existent clothes to avoid admitting their inability to see them.

The importance of critical thinking and questioning authority: The child in the story represents innocence and the ability to see the truth without the fear of social consequences. The child’s honest observation ultimately exposes the collective delusion, emphasizing the importance of questioning what we’re told and not blindly accepting authority.

The manipulation of the masses: The swindlers in the story represent manipulative individuals who take advantage of others‘ weaknesses to deceive and control them. They prey on the emperor’s vanity and the people’s fear of appearing foolish, showcasing the dangers of falling prey to such deception.

The courage to speak the truth: The story highlights the importance of speaking the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable or unpopular. The child’s courage to say what others were afraid to voice eventually leads to the truth being acknowledged by everyone.

Overall, „The Emperor’s New Clothes“ serves as a cautionary tale that encourages critical thinking, honesty, and the questioning of authority. It warns against the pitfalls of vanity, pride, and social conformity, reminding readers to value truth and maintain their integrity.

Summary of the plot

„The Emperor’s New Clothes“ is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a vain emperor who values his appearance above all else. He becomes obsessed with having the finest clothes and spends all his money on them. One day, two swindlers posing as weavers claim to have invented a unique fabric that is invisible to those who are unfit for their position or unintelligent. The emperor, intrigued by this proposition, hires the swindlers to make him a suit from this fabric.

The swindlers pretend to work on the looms, asking for expensive materials which they pocket for themselves. The emperor sends two ministers to check on the progress of the suit. Both ministers are unable to see the non-existent fabric but, afraid to admit their incompetence, praise the cloth and report back to the emperor.

Eventually, the emperor visits the swindlers, and, like his ministers, pretends to see the fabric to avoid appearing unfit for his position. He then parades through the town wearing the „new clothes,“ while his subjects, also unwilling to admit their own incompetence, praise the invisible garment. Eventually, a young child points out that the emperor is, in fact, wearing nothing, and the crowd acknowledges this truth. The emperor, realizing the people’s opinion, continues the procession, attempting to maintain his dignity despite the humiliating revelation.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
TranslationsDE, EN, EL, DA, ES, FR, IT, NL, RO
Readability Index by Björnsson33.2
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index75.3
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level6.7
Gunning Fog Index10
Coleman–Liau Index9.1
SMOG Index10.3
Automated Readability Index6.4
Character Count8.717
Letter Count6.718
Sentence Count100
Word Count1.589
Average Words per Sentence15,89
Words with more than 6 letters275
Percentage of long words17.3%
Number of Syllables2.167
Average Syllables per Word1,36
Words with three Syllables150
Percentage Words with three Syllables9.4%
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