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The Moneybox
Grimm Märchen

The Moneybox - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 7 min

In a nursery where a number of toys lay scattered about, a money-box stood on the top of a very high wardrobe. It was made of clay in the shape of a pig, and had been bought of the potter. In the back of the pig was a slit, and this slit had been enlarged with a knife, so that dollars, or crown pieces, might slip through; and, indeed there were two in the box, besides a number of pence. The money-pig was stuffed so full that it could no longer rattle, which is the highest state of perfection to which a money-pig can attain. There he stood upon the cupboard, high and lofty, looking down upon everything else in the room. He knew very well that he had enough inside him to buy up all the other toys, and this gave him a very good opinion of his own value.

The rest thought of this fact also, although they did not express it, for there were so many other things to talk about. A large doll, still handsome, though rather old, for her neck had been mended, lay inside one of the drawers which was partly open. She called out to the others, „Let us have a game at being men and women, that is something worth playing at.“ Upon this there was a great uproar; even the engravings, which hung in frames on the wall, turned round in their excitement, and showed that they had a wrong side to them, although they had not the least intention to expose themselves in this way, or to object to the game.

It was late at night, but as the moon shone through the windows, they had light at a cheap rate. And as the game was now to begin, all were invited to take part in it, even the children’s wagon, which certainly belonged to the coarser playthings. „Each has its own value,“ said the wagon; „we cannot all be noblemen. There must be some to do the work.“

The money-pig was the only one who received a written invitation. He stood so high that they were afraid he would not accept a verbal message. But in his reply, he said, if he had to take a part, he must enjoy the sport from his own home. They were to arrange for him to do so; and so they did.

The little toy theatre was therefore put up in such a way that the money-pig could look directly into it. Some wanted to begin with a comedy, and afterwards to have a tea party and a discussion for mental improvement, but they commenced with the latter first. The rocking-horse spoke of training and races. The wagon of railways and steam power, for these subjects belonged to each of their professions, and it was right they should talk of them. The clock talked politics– „tick, tick;“ he professed to know what was the time of day, but there was a whisper that he did not go correctly. The bamboo cane stood by, looking stiff and proud: he was vain of his brass ferrule and silver top, and on the sofa lay two worked cushions, pretty but stupid.

When the play at the little theatre began, the rest sat and looked on. They were requested to applaud and stamp, or crack, when they felt gratified with what they saw. But the riding-whip said he never cracked for old people, only for the young who were not yet married. „I crack for everybody,“ said the cracker. „Yes, and a fine noise you make,“ thought the audience, as the play went on. It was not worth much, but it was very well played, and all the characters turned their painted sides to the audience, for they were made only to be seen on one side. The acting was wonderful, excepting that sometimes they came out beyond the lamps, because the wires were a little too long. The doll, whose neck had been darned, was so excited that the place in her neck burst, and the money-pig declared he must do something for one of the players, as they had all pleased him so much. So he made up his mind to remember one of them in his will, as the one to be buried with him in the family vault, whenever that event should happen.

They all enjoyed the comedy so much, that they gave up all thoughts of the tea party, and only carried out their idea of intellectual amusement, which they called playing at men and women; and there was nothing wrong about it, for it was only play. All the while, each one thought most of himself, or of what the money-pig could be thinking. His thoughts were on, as he supposed, a very distant time– of making his will, and of his burial, and of when it might all come to pass. Certainly sooner than he expected– for all at once down he came from the top of the press, fell on the ground, and was broken to pieces. Then the pennies hopped and danced about in the most amusing manner. The little ones twirled round like tops, and the large ones rolled away as far as they could, especially the one great silver crown piece who had often to go out into the world, and now he had his wish as well as all the rest of the money. The pieces of the money-pig were thrown into the dust-bin, and the next day there stood a new money-pig on the cupboard, but it had not a farthing in its inside yet, and therefore, like the old one, it could not rattle. This was the beginning with him, and we will make it the end of our story.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The moneybox“

„The Moneybox“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. There isn’t much information available on the specific background of this story. However, like many of Andersen’s tales, it was likely inspired by his own experiences and the society he lived in.

Andersen’s stories often contained moral lessons and were influenced by the social climate of 19th-century Denmark. „The Moneybox“ is no exception, as it revolves around the themes of materialism, greed, and the consequences of valuing money over relationships and kindness.

The story is set in a world of inanimate objects, focusing on a moneybox that becomes arrogant and greedy, leading it to lose sight of what truly matters in life. Andersen’s use of anthropomorphism in this tale is a common technique he employed in his stories, which allowed him to explore human emotions and characteristics through non-human characters.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The moneybox“

„The Moneybox“ by Hans Christian Andersen can be interpreted on several levels, offering valuable insights into human nature and society. Some possible interpretations are:

Greed and materialism: The story highlights the dangers of greed and materialism, as the moneybox becomes increasingly obsessed with accumulating wealth. This obsession leads to the moneybox’s downfall, suggesting that the pursuit of wealth for its own sake can have negative consequences.

Pride and arrogance: The moneybox is portrayed as an arrogant character, believing itself to be superior to others due to its wealth. This pride ultimately leads to its isolation, as it alienates those around it. This aspect of the story serves as a warning against the pitfalls of arrogance and the importance of humility.

The value of relationships: As the moneybox becomes more consumed by its wealth, it loses sight of the value of relationships and camaraderie. The story thus emphasizes the importance of nurturing connections with others and prioritizing love and friendship over material possessions.

The transience of wealth: The story demonstrates the impermanence of wealth, as the moneybox ultimately loses all its coins when it is broken. This aspect of the story underscores the idea that material wealth is fleeting and that true happiness and contentment lie in the cultivation of virtues like kindness, compassion, and humility.

Anthropomorphism as a literary device: Andersen’s use of anthropomorphism in „The Moneybox“ allows him to explore human emotions and characteristics through non-human characters. This technique serves to engage the reader while also providing a unique perspective on human behavior, making it easier to convey moral lessons in a more subtle and entertaining way.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The moneybox“

Adaptations of „The Moneybox“ by Hans Christian Andersen are not as well-known or widespread as some of his other works, such as „The Little Mermaid“ or „The Ugly Duckling.“ However, there have been a few adaptations and references to this fairy tale:

Children’s books: Some illustrated children’s books have retold „The Moneybox“ story, often with added moral lessons or simplified language for younger readers.

Educational materials: The story has been used in various educational contexts, such as lesson plans and teaching materials, to explore themes like greed, materialism, and pride. Teachers might use this story to discuss these topics with students and encourage critical thinking about the moral implications of the tale.

Animated shorts: While there are no well-known animated adaptations of „The Moneybox,“ independent animators and students might create their own short films based on the story. These could be used as a starting point for discussion or as a creative exercise to explore the themes and messages of the story.

Theater performances: Local theater groups, especially those focused on children’s theater, might adapt „The Moneybox“ as a stage play. These performances could bring the story to life in a more interactive and engaging way, allowing audiences to connect with the characters and themes on a deeper level.

While „The Moneybox“ might not have as many adaptations as some other Hans Christian Andersen stories, its timeless themes and engaging narrative still offer plenty of opportunities for creative reinterpretation and exploration.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The moneybox“

„The Money-Box“ by Hans Christian Andersen has inspired several adaptations in different media, including:

Film: The tale has been adapted into several short films and TV episodes, including a 1946 Soviet film titled „The Moneybox“ and a 1989 animated TV episode titled „The Money Box“. These adaptations typically follow the original story closely, with some variations in the details.

Theater: „The Money-Box“ has been adapted into a stage play by various theatre companies. These adaptations often explore the themes of greed and wealth in different ways, and may include musical numbers and other creative elements.

Literature: The tale has also been adapted into several children’s books, including a 2009 book titled „The Magic Money Box“ by Clare Mishica and a 2017 book titled „The Money-Box“ by Maira Kalman. These adaptations typically retell the story in a simplified form, with colorful illustrations.

Music: „The Money-Box“ has inspired several musical adaptations, including a 1980s song titled „The Money Box“ by British band The Higsons and a 2014 children’s song titled „The Magic Money Box“ by Miss Jenny.

Video games: The tale has also inspired several video game adaptations, including a 2014 mobile game titled „Money Box“ and a 2016 PC game titled „The Magic Money Box“. These adaptations typically incorporate elements of the original story into gameplay mechanics, such as collecting gold coins or avoiding obstacles.

Overall, „The Money-Box“ by Hans Christian Andersen has inspired a variety of creative adaptations across different media. These adaptations often explore the themes of greed and wealth in different ways, while retaining the core elements of the original story.

Summary of the plot

„The Moneybox“ is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that tells the story of a proud and boastful moneybox made of clay. The moneybox sits on a shelf in a room, alongside many other objects such as books, flower pots, and toys. It’s very proud of its position and importance, as it holds the family’s savings, and believes it is of higher status than the other objects around it.

As time passes, the moneybox becomes filled with coins, and it grows even prouder of its wealth. The other objects in the room watch the moneybox’s arrogance, and they discuss its behavior among themselves. The books note that wealth doesn’t always bring happiness, while the flower pots argue that the beauty and serenity of nature is more valuable than money.

One day, a hand reaches for the moneybox and accidentally knocks it off the shelf. It shatters on the floor, and all the coins spill out. The family quickly gathers the coins, but they don’t bother to collect the broken pieces of the moneybox.

The story concludes with a reflection on the moneybox’s pride and arrogance. The other objects in the room are left to ponder the fleeting nature of wealth and the importance of humility. The tale serves as a reminder that material possessions and money are not the only measures of value and that pride can lead to a person’s downfall.

——

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The moneybox“

„The Moneybox“ is a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish author who lived between 1805 and 1875. Andersen is best known for his rich collection of fairy tales and children’s stories, including classics such as „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ „The Snow Queen,“ and „The Emperor’s New Clothes.“ His stories often contain moral lessons and have been translated into many languages, enjoying widespread popularity throughout the world.

Andersen’s tales were primarily written in the 19th century, during a time when social hierarchies and material wealth were significant aspects of European societies. The stories often reflected the prevailing social norms and values of that era, making them relevant and appealing to the readers of the time. Andersen’s works often incorporated elements of folklore, mythology, and his own experiences, giving them a unique and timeless quality.

„The Moneybox,“ like many of Andersen’s other stories, uses the medium of anthropomorphized objects and animals to convey its messages. This storytelling technique has a long tradition in fairy tales and fables, as it allows the author to address complex themes in a way that is engaging and accessible to readers of all ages. By using toys as the main characters in „The Moneybox,“ Andersen effectively explores themes such as materialism, vanity, social hierarchy, and the fleeting nature of life, while also providing a captivating story for his audience.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The moneybox“

„The Moneybox“ by Hans Christian Andersen offers several interpretations, touching upon themes of materialism, vanity, social hierarchy, and the fleeting nature of life and possessions.

Materialism and vanity: The moneybox, as the most valuable object in the room, is well-aware of its worth and looks down upon the other toys. This represents the materialism and vanity that can develop when one’s self-worth is tied to material possessions. The other toys are also influenced by the moneybox’s value, showcasing how materialism can affect people’s perceptions and relationships.

Social hierarchy: The story highlights different social statuses and roles among the toys, with the moneybox as the highest-ranking due to its financial worth. This mirrors the social hierarchies present in human society, where wealth often dictates one’s standing and influence.

Fleeting nature of life and possessions: The moneybox’s sudden fall and shattering is a reminder that life and possessions can be ephemeral. The coins that scatter and dance about after its destruction symbolize the unpredictable and impermanent nature of material wealth.

The cycle of life and renewal: The broken moneybox is replaced by a new one, marking the beginning of a new cycle. This emphasizes the idea of renewal and the continuity of life despite the loss of something or someone valuable.

The illusion of control: The moneybox believes it can dictate the future by deciding who it will be buried with and how its wealth will be distributed. However, its sudden destruction shows that life can be unpredictable, and that one’s control over the future may be an illusion.

Overall, „The Moneybox“ serves as a cautionary tale, reminding readers of the pitfalls of materialism and vanity, the impermanence of life and possessions, and the importance of recognizing one’s limited control over the future.

Summary of the plot

In Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale „The Moneybox,“ a nursery filled with toys centers around a clay piggy bank, which sits high on a wardrobe. The moneybox is filled with coins, making it the most valuable item in the room, and it knows it. One day, the toys decide to play a game of „men and women,“ which causes great excitement among them. The moneybox is given a written invitation, as the toys fear it may not accept a verbal one. It agrees to join, but only if it can watch from its lofty position.

The game begins with intellectual discussions on various topics, such as horse racing, railways, and politics. The toys then start a play in a small theater, and though the performance is not exceptional, the moneybox enjoys it. It decides to remember one of the performers in its will, planning to be buried with them in the family vault. However, the moneybox falls from the wardrobe and shatters before this can happen. The coins inside scatter and dance about, with the largest silver coin finally going out into the world as it had always wished. The broken moneybox is thrown away and replaced with a new one that has yet to collect any coins. The story ends, marking the beginning of the new moneybox’s journey.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES, FR, IT, NL,
Readability Index by Björnsson34.8
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index74.1
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level8.9
Gunning Fog Index11.6
Coleman–Liau Index7.7
SMOG Index9.5
Automated Readability Index9.3
Character Count5.065
Letter Count3.917
Sentence Count41
Word Count980
Average Words per Sentence23,90
Words with more than 6 letters107
Percentage of long words10.9%
Number of Syllables1.256
Average Syllables per Word1,28
Words with three Syllables49
Percentage Words with three Syllables5%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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