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The Jumper
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The Jumper - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 6 min

The Flea, the Grasshopper, and the Skipjack once wanted to see which of them could jump highest; and they invited the whole world, and whoever else would come, to see the grand sight. And there the three famous jumpers were met together in the room.

„Yes, I’ll give my daughter to him who jumps highest,“ said the King, „for it would be mean to let these people jump for nothing.“

The Flea stepped out first. He had very pretty manners, and bowed in all directions, for he had young ladies‘ blood in his veins, and was accustomed to consort only with human beings; and that was of great consequence.

Then came the Grasshopper: he was certainly much heavier, but he had a good figure, and wore the green uniform that was born with him. This person, moreover, maintained that he belonged to a very old family in the land of Egypt, and that he was highly esteemed there. He had just come from the field, he said, and had been put into a card house three stories high, and all made of picture cards with the figures turned inwards. There were doors and windows in the house, cut in the body of the Queen of Hearts.

„I sing so,“ he said, „that sixteen native crickets who have chirped from their youth up, and have never yet had a card house of their own, would become thinner than they are with envy if they were to hear me.“

Both of them, the Flea and the Grasshopper, took care to announce who they were, and that they considered themselves entitled to marry a Princess.

The Skipjack said nothing, but it was said of him that he thought all the more; and directly the Yard Dog had smelt at him he was ready to assert that the Skipjack was of good family, and formed from the breastbone of an undoubted goose. The old councillor, who had received three medals for holding his tongue, declared that the Skipjack possessed the gift of prophecy. One could tell by his bones whether there would be a severe winter or a mild one; and that’s more than one can always tell from the breastbone of the man who writes the almanac.

„I shall not say anything more,“ said the old King. „I only go on quietly, and always think the best.“

Now they were to take their jump. The Flea sprang so high that no one could see him; and then they asserted that he had not jumped at all. That was very mean. The Grasshopper only sprang half as high, but he sprang straight into the King’s face, and the King declared that was horribly rude. The Skipjack stood a long time considering; at last people thought that he could not jump at all.

„I only hope he’s not become unwell,“ said the Yard Dog, and then he smelt at him again.

„Tap!“ he sprang with a little crooked jump just into the lap of the Princess, who sat on a low golden stool.

Then the King said, „The highest leap was taken by him who jumped up to my daughter. For therein lies the point; but it requires head to achieve that, and the Skipjack has shown that he has a head.“

And so he had the Princess.

„I jumped highest, after all,“ said the Flea. „But it’s all the same. Let her have the goose-bone with its lump of wax and bit of stick. I jumped to the highest; but in this world a body is required if one wishes to be seen.“

And the Flea went into foreign military service, where it is said he was killed.

The Grasshopper seated himself out in the ditch, and thought and considered how things happened in the world. And he too said, „Body is required! body is required!“ And then he sang his own melancholy song, and from that we have gathered this story, which they say is not true, though it’s in print.

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Backgrounds to fairy tale „The jumper“

„The Jumper“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, published in 1845. Andersen’s stories often drew inspiration from his own life experiences, the people he met, and the folklore of his time. In the case of „The Jumper,“ it is not well-documented where Andersen specifically drew his inspiration for the story. However, it is possible that he incorporated elements from traditional folklore and his vivid imagination.

„The Jumper“ is a story that explores themes of identity, self-discovery, and the value of individuality. As with many of Andersen’s tales, this story may have been intended to convey moral lessons to its readers, emphasizing the importance of being true to oneself and recognizing the worth of every individual, regardless of their status or appearance.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The jumper“

„The Jumper“ by Hans Christian Andersen can be interpreted in various ways, depending on the reader’s perspective. Some key themes and interpretations include:

The importance of self-discovery and personal growth: The Jumper, a flea, embarks on a journey to find his true identity and place in the world. This theme reflects the human desire for self-discovery and the process of personal growth that everyone goes through in life.

Overcoming prejudice and embracing individuality: The Jumper faces prejudice from other insects because of his status as a flea. However, he learns to embrace his unique abilities and prove his worth, demonstrating that individuality should be valued and respected.

The power of persistence and determination: The Jumper remains determined to find his place in the world, despite the challenges and obstacles he faces. This theme highlights the importance of persistence and determination in achieving one’s goals and dreams.

The dangers of arrogance and pride: The Jumper initially boasts about his jumping abilities, which leads him to be ridiculed by other insects. This serves as a lesson on the dangers of arrogance and pride, and the importance of humility and self-awareness.

The value of true friendship: The Jumper meets a kind-hearted beetle, who becomes a loyal friend and helps him find his place in the world. This theme emphasizes the importance of true friendship and the support it can provide during challenging times.

Overall, „The Jumper“ explores universal themes that resonate with readers of all ages, offering lessons on personal growth, overcoming prejudice, and the value of friendship.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The jumper“

While „The Jumper“ may not be one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most well-known fairy tales, it has inspired adaptations in various forms. Some specific examples include:

Puppet shows: Puppet theater has been used to present Andersen’s fairy tales, including „The Jumper,“ as a way to bring the story to life for children. Puppet shows can be performed in schools, community theaters, or even at home with handcrafted puppets.

Animated shorts: There are animated short films that have been created based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. Although „The Jumper“ may not have a standalone animated film, it could be part of a collection of his lesser-known stories in a compilation format.

Storytelling events: Storytellers and performers may choose to adapt „The Jumper“ for live readings, either in person or through digital platforms. These performances can use various techniques, such as dramatic reading, music, and sound effects, to enhance the storytelling experience.

Educational materials: „The Jumper“ can be adapted into educational resources, such as lesson plans, activity sheets, and discussion guides. Teachers can use these materials to explore the themes and morals of the story while helping students develop reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.

Children’s books: Illustrated children’s books are another way to adapt „The Jumper.“ The story can be retold in a condensed, age-appropriate format with accompanying illustrations to make it more accessible and engaging for younger readers.

While these are some examples of adaptations, „The Jumper“ can be reimagined in various creative ways, depending on the medium and target audience.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The jumper“

„The Jumper“ by Hans Christian Andersen has been adapted in various forms, including:

Stage adaptations: „The Jumper“ has been adapted for the stage as a play or musical. For example, the story has been adapted as a ballet by Russian composer Boris Tishchenko, as well as a musical by composer and playwright Leslie Bricusse.

Film adaptations: „The Jumper“ has been adapted for film and television multiple times, including a 1955 Soviet film adaptation called „The Brave Jump“ and a 2009 Italian television film adaptation called „Il saltimbanco“.

Literary adaptations: The story has been adapted into various children’s books and illustrated storybooks, including „The Jumper: A Fairy Tale Retold“ by Caroline P. Goodwin and „The Jumper: A Story“ by David Mamet.

Musical adaptations: „The Jumper“ has been adapted into songs and musical pieces, including „The Jumper“ by UK band Suede, which tells a modern retelling of the story through the eyes of a young man struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts.

Animated adaptations: The story has been adapted into animated films and television shows, including a 1971 episode of the Japanese animated series „Tales of Andersen“ and a 1991 episode of the British animated series „The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends“.

Overall, „The Jumper“ has inspired numerous adaptations across various mediums, showcasing the enduring popularity and relevance of Andersen’s timeless fairy tale.

Summary of the plot

„The Jumper“ is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that tells the story of a jumping competition between a flea, a grasshopper, and a jumper (a creature that is a mix of a stick and a skipping rope). The goal of the contest is to determine who is the best jumper and, consequently, win the hand of a princess in marriage.

The flea jumps first and boasts about his abilities, claiming he has been a jumper for generations. The grasshopper follows, showing off his impressive leaps and musical talent. Finally, it’s the jumper’s turn. He is not as self-assured as the others, but he has a unique talent – he can jump high while his body remains in the same spot, which amazes the audience.

The competition is held in front of a council of judges, consisting of a yardstick, a ballet dancer, and a nightingale. After careful consideration, the council decides that the flea, grasshopper, and jumper each have their own merits, and they are unable to choose a winner. The princess, however, is not interested in any of the contestants and would rather marry someone with more substance.

In the end, the flea, the grasshopper, and the jumper go their separate ways, realizing that being the best jumper does not necessarily make one the best choice for a spouse. The story concludes with the moral that true worth and value cannot be measured solely by superficial talents.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „The jumper“

„The Jumper“ is a lesser-known fairy tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, who is best known for his classic stories such as „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ and „The Snow Queen.“ Andersen’s works often delve into themes of identity, personal growth, and societal values.

Born in 1805, Andersen grew up in Odense, Denmark, in humble circumstances. Throughout his life, he pursued a career in writing, eventually finding success with his fairy tales, which were inspired by traditional folklore as well as his own life experiences and imagination. His stories are often characterized by elements of magic, moral lessons, and complex emotions.

„The Jumper“ was first published in 1845 as part of Andersen’s collection „New Fairy Tales. First Volume. Second Collection.“ Although not as famous as some of his other works, „The Jumper“ offers a satirical perspective on societal norms, self-promotion, and the role of appearances in determining success.

Andersen’s fairy tales have been translated into numerous languages and have been adapted into various media, including films, plays, and ballets. His work has had a lasting influence on children’s literature and popular culture, with many of his stories continuing to resonate with audiences today.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The jumper“

There are several interpretations that can be drawn from „The Jumper“ by Hans Christian Andersen:

The importance of appearances: The story highlights the significance of appearances and physical presence in society. The Flea’s extraordinary jump goes unnoticed due to his small size, while the Grasshopper’s performance is marred by his perceived rudeness. The Skipjack’s modest jump lands him in the most important place, securing his victory. This demonstrates that society often values outward appearances and what can be seen over true talent or ability.

Intelligence over physical prowess: The King awards the prize to the Skipjack because he uses his intelligence to jump into the Princess’s lap, demonstrating that he understands the purpose of the competition. This suggests that cleverness and strategic thinking are sometimes more valuable than sheer physical ability.

The subjectivity of success: Each creature’s perception of success varies – the Flea believes he has jumped the highest, the Grasshopper takes pride in his family heritage and singing, and the Skipjack relies on his cunning. The story demonstrates that success can be subjective and is often defined by the values and beliefs held by the individual and society.

The limitations of self-promotion: Both the Flea and the Grasshopper boast about their talents and worthiness to marry the Princess. However, their self-promotion is not enough to secure them the victory. This suggests that boasting or relying solely on one’s perceived merits may not always lead to success, and sometimes humility and quiet confidence, as demonstrated by the Skipjack, can be more effective.

Social commentary: Andersen’s tale can be seen as a critique of societal norms and values. The tale exposes the superficiality and fickleness of the society that often prioritizes appearances, pedigree, and social standing over genuine talent and worthiness. The fates of the Flea and the Grasshopper, who are not rewarded for their abilities, underscore the potential injustices that can arise from such a system.

Summary of the plot

„The Jumper“ is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a competition between three creatures – the Flea, the Grasshopper, and the Skipjack – to determine who can jump the highest. The King, wanting to reward the winner, offers his daughter’s hand in marriage to the one who jumps highest.

The Flea is a creature of fine manners, boasting about its human connections. The Grasshopper, wearing a natural green uniform, claims to be from an esteemed Egyptian family and prides himself on his singing abilities. Both believe they are worthy of marrying a princess. The Skipjack remains silent, but it is rumored that he has the power of prophecy.

When the competition begins, the Flea jumps so high that no one can see him, leading some to accuse him of not jumping at all. The Grasshopper jumps only half as high but directly into the King’s face, which the King deems rude. The Skipjack takes his time and jumps into the Princess’s lap, prompting the King to declare him the winner because he jumped to the most important spot and demonstrated intelligence.

Despite feeling wronged, the Flea goes on to join the foreign military service and is rumored to have been killed. The Grasshopper reflects on the competition, realizing that having a physical presence is necessary to be acknowledged in the world. The tale is said to be gathered from the Grasshopper’s melancholic song, even though its truth is questioned, it has been put into print.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
TranslationsDE, DE, EN, DA, ES, FR, IT, NL
Readability Index by Björnsson32
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index81.2
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level6.5
Gunning Fog Index9
Coleman–Liau Index8.4
SMOG Index8.6
Automated Readability Index7.2
Character Count3.594
Letter Count2.752
Sentence Count36
Word Count669
Average Words per Sentence18,58
Words with more than 6 letters90
Percentage of long words13.5%
Number of Syllables844
Average Syllables per Word1,26
Words with three Syllables32
Percentage Words with three Syllables4.8%
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