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There is a difference
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There is a difference - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 10 min

It was in the month of May. The wind was still cold, but spring had come, said the trees and the bushes, the fields and the meadows. Everywhere flowers were budding into blossom; even the hedges were alive with them. Here spring spoke about herself. It spoke from a little apple tree, from which hung a single branch so fresh and blooming, and fairly weighed down by a glorious mass of rosy buds just ready to open.

Now this branch knew how lovely it was, for that knowledge lies in the leaf as well as in the flesh, so it wasn’t a bit surprised when one day a grand carriage stopped in the road beside it, and the young Countess in the carriage said that this apple branch was the most beautiful she had ever seen-it was spring itself in its loveliest form. So she broke off the apple branch and carried it in her own dainty hand, shading it from the sun with her silk parasol, as they drove on to her castle, in which there were lofty halls and beautifully decorated rooms. Fleecy-white curtains fluttered at its open windows, and there were many shining, transparent vases full of beautiful flowers. In one of these vases, which looked as if it were carved of new-fallen snow, she placed the apple branch, among fresh green beech leaves-a lovely sight indeed.

And so it happened that the apple branch grew proud, and that’s quite human.

All sorts of people passed through the rooms, and according to their rank expressed their admiration in different ways. Some said too much, some said too little, and some said nothing at all. And the apple branch began to realize that there were differences in people as well as in plants.

„Some are used for nourishment, some are for ornament, and some you could very well do without,“ thought the apple branch.

From its position at the open window the apple branch could look down over the gardens and meadows below, and consider the differences among the flowers and plants beneath. Some were rich, some were poor, and some were very poor.

„Miserable, rejected plants,“ said the apple branch. „There is a difference indeed! It’s quite proper and just that distinctions should be made. Yet how unhappy they must feel, if indeed a creature like that is capable of feeling anything, as I and my equals do; but it must be that way, otherwise everybody would be treated as though they were just alike.“

And the apple branch looked down with especial pity on one kind of flower that grew everywhere in meadows and ditches. They were much too common ever to be gathered into bouquets. They could be found between the paving stones. They shot up like the rankest and most worthless of weeds. They were dandelions, but people have given them the ugly name, „the devil’s milk pails.“

„Poor wretched outcasts,“ said the apple branch. „I suppose you can’t help being as common as you are, and having such a vulgar name! It’s the same with plants as with men-there must be a difference.“

„A difference?“ repeated the sunbeam, as it kissed the apple branch; but it kissed the golden „devil’s milk pails,“ too. And all the other sunbeams did the same, kissing all the flowers equally, poor as well as rich.

The apple branch had never thought about our Lord’s infinite love for everything that lives and moves in Him, had never thought how much that it is good and beautiful can lie hidden but still not be forgotten; and that, too, was human.

But the sunbeam, the ray of light, knew better. „You don’t see very clearly. You are not very farsighted. Who are these outcast flowers that you pity so much?“

„Those devil’s milk pails down there,“ replied the apple branch. „Nobody ever ties them up in bouquets; they’re trodden under foot, because there are too many of them. And when they go to seed they fly about along the road like little bits of wool and hang on people’s clothes. They’re just weeds! I suppose there must be weeds too, but I’m certainly happy and grateful that I’m not like one of them!“

Now a whole flock of children ran out into the meadow to play. The youngest of them was so tiny that he had to be carried by the others. When they set him down in the grass among the golden blossoms, he laughed and gurgled with joy, kicked his little legs, rolled over and over, and plucked only the yellow dandelions. These he kissed in innocent delight.

The bigger children broke off the flowers of the dandelions and joined the hollow stalks link by link into chains. First they would make one for a necklace, then a longer one to hang across the shoulders and around the waist, and finally one to go around their heads. It was a beautiful wreath of splendid green links and chains.

But the biggest of the children carefully gathered the stalks that had gone to seed, those loose, aerial, woolly blossoms, those wonderfully perfect balls of dainty white plumes, and held them to their lips, trying to blow away all the white feathers with one breath. Granny had told them that whoever could do that would receive new clothes before the year was out. The poor, despised dandelion was considered quite a prophet on such occasions.

„Now do you see?“ asked the sunbeam. „Do you see its beauty and power?“

„Oh, it’s all right-for children,“ replied the apple branch.

Now an old woman came into the meadow. She stooped and dug up the roots of the dandelion with a blunt knife that had lost its handle. Some of the roots she would roast instead of coffee berries, others she would sell to the apothecary to be used as drugs.

„Beauty is something higher than this,“ said the apple branch. „Only the chosen few can really be allowed into the kingdom of the beautiful; there’s as much difference between plants as between men.“

Then the sunbeam spoke of the infinite love of the Creator for all His creatures, for everything that has life, and of the equal distribution of all things in time and eternity.

„That’s just your opinion,“ replied the apple branch.

Now some people came into the room, and among them was the young Countess who had placed the apple branch in the transparent vase. She was carrying a flower-or whatever it was-that was protected by three or four large leaves around it like a cap, so that no breath of air or gust of wind could injure it. She carried it more carefully and tenderly than she had the apple branch when she had brought it to the castle. Very gently she removed the leaves, and then the apple branch could see what she carried. It was a delicate, feathery crown of starry seeds borne by the despised dandelion!

This was what she had plucked so carefully and carried so tenderly, so that no single one of the loose, dainty, feathered arrows that rounded out its downy form should be blown away. There it was, whole and perfect. With delight she admired the beautiful form, the airy lightness, the marvelous mechanism of a thing that was destined so soon to be scattered by the wind.

„Look how wonderfully beautiful our Lord made this!“ she cried. „I’ll paint it, together with the apple branch. Everybody thinks it is so extremely beautiful, but this poor flower is lovely, too. It has received as much from our Lord in another way. They are very different, yet both are children in the kingdom of the beautiful!“

The sunbeam kissed the poor dandelion, and then kissed the blooming apple branch, whose petals seemed to blush a deeper red.

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Backgrounds to fairy tale „There is a difference“

„There is a Difference“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. It was first published in 1851 as part of a larger collection of his works. The story revolves around a young girl named Marianne, who is trying to navigate the complexities of social class and the expectations placed upon her as she grows up.

In the story, Marianne is a girl of modest means who is raised by her grandmother. Her grandmother constantly compares Marianne to her wealthy cousin, Camilla, who lives a more luxurious life. The grandmother emphasizes the importance of social status, wealth, and appearances, which leads Marianne to feel inferior.

As the story progresses, Marianne’s circumstances improve when she is taken in by a rich family. However, Marianne realizes that the values her grandmother held in high regard don’t bring true happiness. She becomes aware of the superficiality of wealth and social status and learns to appreciate the things that genuinely matter in life, such as love, kindness, and true friendship.

The story highlights the differences in values and lifestyles between people from different social classes. Andersen uses Marianne’s journey to demonstrate that true happiness and contentment do not come from material possessions or social standing but from the relationships we form with others and the values we hold dear.

Interpretations to fairy tale „There is a difference“

„There is a Difference“ by Hans Christian Andersen presents several themes and interpretations that continue to resonate with readers:

Social class and inequality: The story explores the differences in social class and the impact of inequality on individuals. The protagonist, Marianne, feels inadequate and less worthy due to her modest upbringing compared to her wealthy cousin Camilla. The story encourages readers to question the value society places on wealth and social standing.

The importance of inner values: As Marianne’s circumstances change and she experiences a wealthier lifestyle, she learns that true happiness doesn’t come from material possessions or social status. Instead, she discovers that love, kindness, and true friendship are the keys to a fulfilling life.

The influence of societal expectations: The story demonstrates how societal expectations can shape an individual’s beliefs and self-worth. Marianne’s grandmother constantly compares her to her cousin, emphasizing the importance of wealth and appearance. This leads Marianne to feel inferior and unhappy. The story encourages readers to challenge societal expectations and find their own path to happiness.

The superficiality of appearances: The story critiques the emphasis placed on appearances and social standing. Marianne initially believes that her cousin Camilla’s life is better because she is wealthier, but she later realizes that true happiness is not found in material possessions.

Personal growth and self-discovery: The story is a coming-of-age tale, where Marianne learns important life lessons and grows as a person. Through her experiences, she learns to appreciate the value of love, friendship, and kindness over material wealth and social status.

Overall, „There is a Difference“ highlights the importance of inner values, personal growth, and the impact of societal expectations on individuals. Andersen’s story encourages readers to reevaluate their priorities, challenge societal norms, and focus on the things that truly matter in life.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „There is a difference“

Though „There is a Difference“ is not one of the most widely adapted fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen, it has still been retold and presented in different forms. Here are a few examples of adaptations:

Children’s book adaptations: Some children’s books have adapted „There is a Difference“ by simplifying the language and adding illustrations to make the story more accessible to younger readers.

Anthologies: The story has been included in various anthologies of Hans Christian Andersen’s works, both in print and as audiobooks. These collections often feature a wide range of his stories, including lesser-known tales like „There is a Difference.“

Theater productions: Some theatre companies have adapted „There is a Difference“ for the stage, either as a standalone performance or as part of a larger compilation of Andersen’s stories. These productions often involve a mixture of live acting, music, and dance to bring the tale to life.

Animated or short films: While there may not be a widely known adaptation of „There is a Difference“ in film or animation, smaller independent creators have occasionally produced their own interpretations of the story in short films or animation projects.

Educational materials: The themes and moral lessons found in „There is a Difference“ have been used as educational tools in various teaching resources, including lesson plans, reading comprehension exercises, and discussion prompts. By exploring the story’s themes and interpretations, educators can encourage students to think critically about societal values, personal growth, and the importance of inner qualities.

While „There is a Difference“ may not have gained the same level of popularity as some of Andersen’s other works, its themes and messages continue to resonate with audiences and inspire various adaptations and reinterpretations.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „There is a difference“

The fairy tale „There is a difference“ by Hans Christian Andersen has inspired many adaptations in various forms of media. Here are some examples:

Animated Films: The story has been adapted into several animated films, including „The Drop of Water“ by Aleksandr Petrov and „There is a Difference“ by Fairy Tales Animated.

Children’s Books: Several children’s books have been written based on the story, such as „The Old House“ by Pamela Duncan Edwards and „The Drop of Water“ by Catherine Asaro.

Artwork: Many artists have created artwork inspired by the story, such as Edmund Dulac’s illustrations in „Stories from Hans Andersen“ and Arthur Rackham’s illustrations in „Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen.“

Theater: The story has been adapted for the stage, such as the play „The Drop of Water“ by Mary Dunne and the puppet show „The Old House“ by the Kilkenny Puppetry Festival.

Music: The story has also inspired musical adaptations, such as the song „The Drop of Water“ by Eikichi Yazawa and the opera „The Old House“ by Philip Glass.

Overall, the enduring themes of „There is a difference“ continue to inspire many adaptations, showcasing the power and impact of Hans Christian Andersen’s storytelling.

Summary of the plot

„There is a Difference“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that revolves around the lives of two different peas from the same pod. The story follows their journeys as they experience different fates and learn valuable lessons.

The tale begins with two peas inside a pod hanging on a pea plant. As they grow, the peas become aware of the world around them and discuss their dreams and aspirations. They both hope to bring happiness and be of use to someone.

One day, the pod is picked, and the two peas are separated. The first pea finds itself planted in a garden, where it takes root and blossoms into a beautiful pea plant. It grows strong and bears many pods full of peas, bringing joy and nourishment to the family that tends to the garden.

The second pea, however, takes a different path. It rolls away and ends up in a gutter, where it eventually finds a crack in a wall and begins to grow. Although its surroundings are harsh and its growth stunted, the second pea perseveres and eventually produces a single flower. A young girl, who lives a difficult life in poverty, discovers the flower and cherishes it as a symbol of hope and beauty in her otherwise bleak existence.

In the end, both peas have achieved their goals of bringing happiness and usefulness to others, albeit in very different ways. The story serves as a reminder that, while there may be a difference in the circumstances and outcomes of individual lives, each person can still make a positive impact on the world in their own way.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „There is a difference“

„There is a difference“ is a lesser-known fairy tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen was born on April 2, 1805, in Odense, Denmark, and died on August 4, 1875, in Copenhagen. He is best known for his collection of fairy tales, which have been translated into over 125 languages and continue to be cherished by children and adults alike.

Hans Christian Andersen’s stories often convey moral lessons or touch upon deep, philosophical themes. Many of his tales have a timeless quality and incorporate elements of folklore, fantasy, and reality, making them appealing to a wide range of audiences.

In the case of „There is a difference,“ the story focuses on themes such as beauty, pride, diversity, and the value of all living things. Andersen’s tales often promote compassion, empathy, and understanding, encouraging readers to examine their own perspectives and be more open-minded.

Although the story doesn’t have a specific historical or cultural background, it can be seen as a reflection of Andersen’s own beliefs and values. As a writer who was often concerned with issues of social justice and human rights, Andersen used his stories to convey important moral messages and inspire change in his readers‘ attitudes and behaviors.

Interpretations to fairy tale „There is a difference“

„There is a difference“ by Hans Christian Andersen offers several interpretations, with the key themes revolving around beauty, pride, and the appreciation of diversity.

The subjectivity of beauty: The story highlights that beauty is subjective and can be found in the most unexpected places. While the apple branch views itself as superior to the dandelions, the Countess finds beauty in both. This interpretation encourages readers to appreciate the unique beauty of everything around them and not judge based on preconceived notions or societal standards.

Pride and humility: The apple branch’s pride in its own beauty leads it to look down on other plants, specifically the dandelions. The story serves as a reminder that pride can cloud one’s judgment and prevent them from recognizing the beauty and value in others. It emphasizes the importance of humility and being open to seeing the worth in all living things.

Appreciation of diversity: The tale conveys the message that differences among people and living things should be celebrated and appreciated, rather than being used as a basis for judgment or discrimination. It encourages readers to embrace diversity and understand that the world is richer and more beautiful because of these differences.

The Creator’s love and equality: Through the sunbeam’s teachings, the story emphasizes the Creator’s infinite love for all living creatures, regardless of their appearance or societal value. This interpretation calls for readers to recognize that all living things have been created equal and are deserving of love and respect.

The transformative power of understanding: The story suggests that by understanding and acknowledging the beauty and value in all living things, one can transform their perspective and become more compassionate and empathetic. The Countess’s appreciation of both the apple branch and the dandelion symbolizes this transformation and shows the importance of understanding and empathy in fostering a more inclusive and harmonious world.

Summary of the plot

In Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, „There is a difference,“ an apple branch blossoms during spring and catches the eye of a young Countess, who breaks it off and brings it to her castle. The apple branch, realizing its beauty, grows proud and begins to notice differences among people and plants. It looks down on dandelions, which it sees as common and undesirable weeds, while it views itself as superior and beautiful.

As the sunbeam kisses all the flowers, it teaches the apple branch about the Creator’s infinite love for all living things. The apple branch, however, remains unconvinced. One day, the Countess brings a carefully protected dandelion’s seed head to the castle and expresses her admiration for its beauty and unique features. She decides to paint both the apple branch and the dandelion, acknowledging that both are children in the kingdom of the beautiful.

This tale serves as a reminder that beauty can be found in all things, and that the Creator’s love is equal and infinite. It encourages readers to be more open-minded, appreciate diversity, and recognize the inherent beauty and value in all living creatures.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
TranslationsDE, DE, EN, DA, ES, IT
Readability Index by Björnsson32.7
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index74.2
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level7.1
Gunning Fog Index9.7
Coleman–Liau Index10.1
SMOG Index9.6
Automated Readability Index7.8
Character Count7.381
Letter Count5.768
Sentence Count77
Word Count1.312
Average Words per Sentence17,04
Words with more than 6 letters205
Percentage of long words15.6%
Number of Syllables1.789
Average Syllables per Word1,36
Words with three Syllables94
Percentage Words with three Syllables7.2%
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