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The Sweathearts
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The Sweathearts - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 6 min

A whipping top and a little ball lay together in a box, among other toys, and the top said to the ball, „Shall we be married, as we live in the same box?“

But the ball, which wore a dress of morocco leather, and thought as much of herself as any other young lady, would not even condescend to reply.

The next day came the little boy to whom the playthings belonged, and he painted the top red and yellow, and drove a brass-headed nail into the middle, so that while the top was spinning round it looked splendid.

„Look at me,“ said the top to the ball. „What do you say now? Shall we be engaged to each other? We should suit so well. You spring, and I dance. No one could be happier than we should be.“

„Indeed! do you think so? Perhaps you do not know that my father and mother were morocco slippers, and that I have a Spanish cork in my body.“

„Yes; but I am made of mahogany,“ said the top. „The major himself turned me. He has a turning lathe of his own, and it is a great amusement to him.“

„Can I believe it?“ asked the ball.

„May I never be whipped again,“ said the top, „if I am not telling you the truth.“

„You certainly know how to speak for yourself very well,“ said the ball. „But I cannot accept your proposal. I am almost engaged to a swallow. Every time I fly up in the air, he puts his head out of the nest, and says, ‚Will you?‘ and I have said, ‚Yes,‘ to myself silently, and that is as good as being half engaged; but I will promise never to forget you.“

„Much good that will be to me,“ said the top; and they spoke to each other no more.

Next day the ball was taken out by the boy. The top saw it flying high in the air, like a bird, till it would go quite out of sight. Each time it came back, as it touched the earth, it gave a higher leap than before, either because it longed to fly upwards, or from having a Spanish cork in its body. But the ninth time it rose in the air, it remained away, and did not return. The boy searched everywhere for it, but he searched in vain, for it could not be found. It was gone.

„I know very well where she is,“ sighed the top; „she is in the swallow’s nest, and has married the swallow.“

The more the top thought of this, the more he longed for the ball. His love increased the more, just because he could not get her; and that she should have been won by another, was the worst of all. The top still twirled about and hummed, but he continued to think of the ball; and the more he thought of her, the more beautiful she seemed to his fancy.

Thus several years passed by, and his love became quite old. The top, also, was no longer young; but there came a day when he looked handsomer than ever. For he was gilded all over. He was now a golden top, and whirled and danced about till he hummed quite loud, and was something worth looking at; but one day he leaped too high, and then he, also, was gone. They searched everywhere, even in the cellar, but he was nowhere to be found. Where could he be? He had jumped into the dust-bin, where all sorts of rubbish were lying: cabbage-stalks, dust, and rain-droppings that had fallen down from the gutter under the roof.

„Now I am in a nice place,“ said he; „my gilding will soon be washed off here. Oh dear, what a set of rabble I have got amongst!“ And then he glanced at a curious round thing like an old apple, which lay near a long, leafless cabbage-stalk. It was, however, not an apple, but an old ball, which had lain for years in the gutter, and was soaked through with water.

„Thank goodness, here comes one of my own class, with whom I can talk,“ said the ball, examining the gilded top. „I am made of morocco,“ she said. „I was sewn together by a young lady, and I have a Spanish cork in my body; but no one would think it, to look at me now. I was once engaged to a swallow; but I fell in here from the gutter under the roof, and I have lain here more than five years, and have been thoroughly drenched. Believe me, it is a long time for a young maiden.“

The top said nothing, but he thought of his old love; and the more she said, the more clear it became to him that this was the same ball.

The servant then came to clean out the dust-bin.

„Ah,“ she exclaimed, „here is a gilt top.“ So the top was brought again to notice and honor, but nothing more was heard of the little ball. He spoke not a word about his old love. For that soon died away. When the beloved object has lain for five years in a gutter, and has been drenched through, no one cares to know her again on meeting her in a dust-bin.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The sweathearts“

„The Sweethearts; or, The Top and the Ball“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by the renowned Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. First published in 1843 as part of his „New Fairy Tales“ collection, the story features a pair of inanimate objects, a top and a ball, as its central characters. This fairy tale is unique because Andersen uses toys as the main characters, allowing readers to explore themes of love, social class, and fate from a different perspective.

The story takes place in a box of toys, where a top and a ball develop feelings for each other. The ball is made of fine materials and is admired by the other toys, while the top is more humble and modest. Despite their feelings for each other, the ball believes that the top is beneath her due to their differing social statuses within the toy box.

Eventually, the ball is taken outside by a child and is lost in a gutter. The top continues to spin, day after day, waiting for her return. As the years pass, the top remains loyal to the ball, even when its paint has faded and it is no longer as attractive as it once was. Ultimately, the story ends with the top and ball never reuniting, teaching a poignant lesson about love, social class, and the unpredictable nature of fate.

„The Sweethearts“ is a prime example of Andersen’s ability to blend elements of reality and fantasy, using everyday objects to explore deeper themes. The fairy tale draws upon Andersen’s own experiences growing up in a lower social class and his unrequited love for a woman of higher social standing. The story reflects his understanding of the complexities of love, the impact of social class on relationships, and the importance of remaining true to oneself despite adversity.

In summary, „The Sweethearts“ is a unique fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that uses toys as the main characters to explore themes of love, social class, and fate. The story is inspired by Andersen’s personal experiences and showcases his talent for combining reality and fantasy to create timeless, thought-provoking tales.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The sweathearts“

„The Sweethearts; or, The Top and the Ball“ by Hans Christian Andersen offers multiple layers of meaning and interpretation. By using inanimate objects as the main characters, the story allows readers to examine human relationships and societal norms from a different perspective. Here are some interpretations of the fairy tale:

Love and social class: The story demonstrates how social class can impact relationships, with the ball believing that the top is beneath her due to their differing statuses within the toy box. This theme reflects Andersen’s experiences with unrequited love and the impact of social class on his personal relationships.

Loyalty and devotion: Despite being separated and facing the passage of time, the top remains loyal to the ball. This unwavering devotion can be interpreted as a lesson in the importance of staying true to one’s feelings, even when circumstances change.

The fleeting nature of beauty and material possessions: The ball’s beauty and fine materials cause her to be admired by the other toys, but her eventual loss and the fading of the top’s paint illustrate the transient nature of beauty and material wealth. This theme serves as a reminder of the importance of focusing on inner qualities and lasting connections rather than superficial attributes.

The unpredictability of fate: The story ends with the top and ball never reuniting, emphasizing the unpredictable nature of life and the fact that not all stories have a happy ending. This theme can be seen as a reminder to appreciate the present moment and the relationships we have, as the future is uncertain.

Overcoming societal expectations: The top’s unwavering love for the ball, despite their social differences, can be interpreted as a message to challenge societal norms and expectations. The story encourages readers to consider the importance of staying true to their feelings and standing up for their beliefs, even when it goes against societal expectations.

In conclusion, „The Sweethearts“ offers various interpretations, including themes of love and social class, loyalty and devotion, the fleeting nature of beauty and material possessions, the unpredictability of fate, and overcoming societal expectations. Andersen’s use of inanimate objects as the main characters allows readers to explore these themes from a unique perspective, offering insights into human relationships and societal norms.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The sweathearts“

While „The Sweethearts; or, The Top and the Ball“ is not one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most famous fairy tales, it has inspired a few adaptations across different media. Here are some examples:

Animated short films: Animated adaptations of „The Sweethearts“ have been created by various independent filmmakers and studios. These short films bring the story to life, visually representing the toy box world and the emotions of the top and the ball. One example is a Russian animated short film called „Вертушка и Мячик“ (The Top and the Ball) from the 1980s, directed by Yevgeni Sivokon.

Children’s books and illustrations: Illustrated versions of „The Sweethearts“ have been published as part of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale collections or as standalone picture books. These adaptations use vivid illustrations to depict the story’s characters and settings, capturing the emotions and themes present in the original text.

Radio dramas and audiobooks: Radio adaptations and audiobook narrations of „The Sweethearts“ have been produced, bringing the story to life through voice acting and sound effects. These adaptations allow listeners to imagine the world of the toy box and experience the story’s themes in a different format.

Theater productions: Some theater companies and drama schools have adapted „The Sweethearts“ as a play or musical for the stage. These adaptations explore the story’s themes of love, social class, and fate through live performances, using costumes, props, and set design to create the world of the toy box.

While specific examples of adaptations for „The Sweethearts“ are limited due to the story’s lesser-known status, the tale’s unique characters and themes offer opportunities for creative reinterpretations in various forms.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The sweathearts“

Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale „The Sweethearts“ has been adapted in various forms over the years, including in literature, film, and theater. Here are a few examples of adaptations:

„True Sweethearts“ (1951): This Danish film, directed by Torben Anton Svendsen, is based on Andersen’s original story. It tells the story of Anne-Lise and Peter, two young lovers from poor families who face challenges and obstacles as they try to be together.

„The Faithful Lovers“ (1969): This episode of the British television series „Jackanory“ is an adaptation of Andersen’s story. It features narration by actor Bernard Cribbins and illustrations by Quentin Blake.

„Sweethearts“ (1986): This musical, with music by Victor Herbert and book and lyrics by Harry B. Smith, is loosely based on Andersen’s story. It tells the story of two young lovers who are separated and reunited years later, and features such popular songs as „Sweethearts“ and „Jeannette and Her Little Wooden Shoes.“

„The Sweethearts“ (2006): This play, written by Sarah Phelps, is a modern retelling of Andersen’s story. It tells the story of two young lovers who are separated when the boy is sent to fight in Iraq. The play explores themes of love, loss, and the impact of war on relationships.

„The Faithful Sweethearts“ (2014): This animated short film, directed by Yawen Zheng, is a modern interpretation of Andersen’s story. It tells the story of two young lovers who are separated when the boy is sent to work in a far-off city. The film explores themes of love, perseverance, and the power of friendship.

These adaptations demonstrate the enduring popularity and relevance of Andersen’s story, and its ability to be reinterpreted and adapted for new audiences and generations.

Summary of the plot

„The Sweethearts; or, The Top and the Ball“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that tells the story of a humble top and a beautiful ball, who live together in a toy box. Despite developing feelings for each other, their relationship is challenged by their perceived differences in social status.

The ball is made of fine materials and is admired by the other toys in the box. Meanwhile, the top is more modest and unassuming. As the top and the ball grow closer, the ball believes that the top is beneath her due to their differing social standing within the toy world. This difference in status leads the ball to dismiss the possibility of a relationship with the top.

One day, a child takes the ball outside to play, and it accidentally ends up in a gutter, never to be seen again. The top, unaware of the ball’s fate, continues to spin in the toy box, waiting for the ball to return. As the years pass, the top remains loyal to the ball, even as its paint fades and it loses its former attractiveness.

In the end, the top and the ball never reunite, and the story concludes with a poignant lesson about love, social class, and the unpredictable nature of fate. Through the tale of these inanimate objects, Andersen explores themes such as the impact of social status on relationships, the importance of loyalty and devotion, and the transient nature of beauty and material possessions.

—————-

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The sweathearts“

„The Sweethearts“ is a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, a Danish author who lived from 1805 to 1875. Andersen is best known for his beloved fairy tales, including „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ „The Snow Queen,“ and „The Emperor’s New Clothes.“ His stories have been translated into more than 150 languages and have become an integral part of the world’s literary heritage.

Andersen’s fairy tales are often characterized by their emotional depth, moral messages, and sometimes dark themes. Although his stories were primarily written for children, they contain universal messages and appeal to people of all ages. Andersen’s stories often draw on his own experiences, exploring themes of love, loss, social status, and the passage of time.

„The Sweethearts“ is one of Andersen’s lesser-known works but still reflects his unique storytelling style and his ability to convey complex themes through seemingly simple tales. The story features anthropomorphized objects (the top and the ball) to explore the challenges of love and relationships, while also addressing broader themes related to social status, pride, change, and the unpredictability of life.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The sweathearts“

„The Sweethearts“ can be interpreted in various ways, highlighting themes of love, social status, pride, and the passage of time.

Love and its fragility: The story showcases the top’s unrequited love for the ball, which only grows stronger with time and distance. However, when they finally reunite, the top’s feelings for the ball fade away due to her changed appearance and circumstances. This could reflect the fragile nature of love and how it can be affected by superficial factors.

Social status and pride: The ball initially refuses the top’s proposal due to her pride in her background and her perceived engagement to a swallow. This highlights the importance of social status and how it can impact relationships. Additionally, the top’s increased attractiveness after being gilded demonstrates the power of appearances in shaping others‘ perceptions and actions.

The passage of time: The story spans several years, during which both the top and the ball undergo transformations. As time passes, the top’s love for the ball intensifies, and it becomes more attractive. In contrast, the ball’s circumstances worsen as it ends up in the dustbin, neglected and forgotten. This highlights the inevitability of change over time and the potential impact of these changes on relationships and feelings.

The fickleness of fate: The story demonstrates how circumstances can change unexpectedly and dramatically. Both the top and the ball experience moments of joy, love, and sorrow, illustrating the unpredictability of life. The tale reminds readers that fortune can be both kind and cruel, and that it is essential to be adaptable and resilient in the face of change.

Summary of the plot

„The Sweethearts“ is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a whipping top and a little ball who live together in a toy box. The top asks the ball if they should get married, but the ball, dressed in morocco leather and prideful, does not respond. The boy who owns the toys later paints the top with red and yellow, and adds a brass nail in its center, making the top more attractive. The top again proposes to the ball, who replies that it cannot accept the proposal as it is almost engaged to a swallow.

One day, the boy takes the ball outside, and it leaps high into the air, eventually disappearing. The top believes the ball has married the swallow and feels heartbroken. As time passes, the top’s love for the ball grows stronger, especially since it cannot have her. Eventually, the top becomes gilded, making it even more beautiful, and one day it leaps too high and ends up in the dustbin.

In the dustbin, the top meets an old, dirty ball that reveals it was once made of morocco leather and had been engaged to a swallow before ending up in the gutter. The top recognizes the ball as its old love but says nothing. A servant discovers the gilded top and takes it out of the dustbin, restoring its former glory, while the old ball remains in the dustbin, forgotten. The top does not speak of its old love, as the passage of time and the ball’s neglected state have caused its feelings to fade.

Informations for scientific analysis


Fairy tale statistics
Value
Translations EN, DA, ES, IT,
Readability Index by Björnsson26
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index88.6
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level4.8
Gunning Fog Index7.5
Coleman–Liau Index6.4
SMOG Index7.1
Automated Readability Index4.3
Character Count4.572
Letter Count3.414
Sentence Count57
Word Count905
Average Words per Sentence15,88
Words with more than 6 letters92
Percentage of long words10.2%
Number of Syllables1.092
Average Syllables per Word1,21
Words with three Syllables26
Percentage Words with three Syllables2.9%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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