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There is no Doubt about it
Grimm Märchen

There is no Doubt about it - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 6 min

„That was a terrible affair!“ said a hen, and in a quarter of the town, too, where it had not taken place. „That was a terrible affair in a hen-roost. I cannot sleep alone to-night. It is a good thing that many of us sit on the roost together.“ And then she told a story that made the feathers on the other hens bristle up, and the cock’s comb fall. There was no doubt about it.

But we will begin at the beginning, and that is to be found in a hen-roost in another part of the town. The sun was setting, and the fowls were flying on to their roost. One hen, with white feathers and short legs, used to lay her eggs according to the regulations, and was, as a hen, respectable in every way. As she was flying upon the roost, she plucked herself with her beak, and a little feather came out.

„There it goes,“ she said; „the more I pluck, the more beautiful do I get.“ She said this merrily, for she was the best of the hens, and, moreover, as had been said, very respectable. With that she went to sleep.

It was dark all around, and hen sat close to hen, but the one who sat nearest to her merry neighbour did not sleep. She had heard and yet not heard, as we are often obliged to do in this world, in order to live at peace; but she could not keep it from her neighbour on the other side any longer. „Did you hear what was said? I mention no names, but there is a hen here who intends to pluck herself in order to look well. If I were a cock, I should despise her.“

Just over the fowls sat the owl, with father owl and the little owls. The family has sharp ears, and they all heard every word that their neighbour had said. They rolled their eyes, and mother owl, beating her wings, said: „Don’t listen to her! But I suppose you heard what was said? I heard it with my own ears, and one has to hear a great deal before they fall off. There is one among the fowls who has so far forgotten what is becoming to a hen that she plucks out all her feathers and lets the cock see it.“

„Prenez garde aux enfants!“ said father owl; „children should not hear such things.“

„But I must tell our neighbour owl about it. She is such an estimable owl to talk to.“ And with that she flew away.

„Too-whoo! Too-whoo!“ they both hooted into the neighbour’s dove-cot to the doves inside. „Have you heard? Have you heard? Too-whoo! There is a hen who has plucked out all her feathers for the sake of the cock. She will freeze to death, if she is not frozen already. Too-whoo!“

„Where? where?“ cooed the doves.

„In the neighbour’s yard. I have as good as seen it myself. It is almost unbecoming to tell the story, but there is no doubt about it.“

„Believe every word of what we tell you,“ said the doves, and cooed down into their poultry-yard. „There is a hen– nay, some say that there are two– who have plucked out all their feathers, in order not to look like the others, and to attract the attention of the cock. It is a dangerous game, for one can easily catch cold and die from fever, and both of these are dead already.“

„Wake up! wake up!“ crowed the cock, and flew upon his board. Sleep was still in his eyes, but yet he crowed out: „Three hens have died of their unfortunate love for a cock. They had plucked out all their feathers. It is a horrible story: I will not keep it to myself, but let it go farther.“

„Let it go farther,“ shrieked the bats, and the hens clucked and the cocks crowed, „Let it go farther! Let it go farther!“ In this way the story travelled from poultry-yard to poultry-yard, and at last came back to the place from which it had really started.

„Five hens,“ it now ran, „have plucked out all their feathers to show which of them had grown leanest for love of the cock, and then they all pecked at each other till the blood ran down and they fell down dead, to the derision and shame of their family, and to the great loss of their owner.“

The hen who had lost the loose little feather naturally did not recognise her own story, and being a respectable hen, said: „I despise those fowls; but there are more of that kind. Such things ought not to be concealed, and I will do my best to get the story into the papers, so that it becomes known throughout the land. The hens have richly deserved it, and their family too.“

It got into the papers, it was printed; and there is no doubt about it, one little feather may easily grow into five hens.

Backgrounds to fairy tale „There is no doubt about it“

„There Is No Doubt About It“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, first published in 1858. Andersen was a Danish author who wrote numerous fairy tales, many of which have become timeless classics.

This particular story is a humorous tale that emphasizes the importance of clear communication and the dangers of gossip and rumor-mongering. Andersen often used humor and satire in his stories to make a point, and this tale is no exception. The story showcases how rumors can easily spiral out of control, leading to absurd conclusions and misunderstandings.

Although there are no specific historical or cultural backgrounds to the story, it reflects Andersen’s keen observation of human nature and his talent for creating relatable, entertaining tales. Like many of his other works, „There Is No Doubt About It“ has a moral lesson embedded within the story, serving as a reminder for readers to be cautious of gossip and to seek the truth before jumping to conclusions.

Interpretations to fairy tale „There is no doubt about it“

„There Is No Doubt About It“ by Hans Christian Andersen can be interpreted in several ways:

The Dangers of Gossip and Misinformation: The story illustrates how gossip can easily spread and transform into outrageous rumors. Misinformation and assumptions can lead to misunderstandings, causing unnecessary conflicts and confusion. Andersen cautions readers to be mindful of the information they share and to verify its accuracy before passing it on.

The Power of Communication: The fairy tale emphasizes the importance of clear and open communication to avoid misunderstandings. The characters in the story fail to communicate effectively, resulting in the rapid spread of baseless rumors. The lesson here is to ensure that information is accurate and clear before sharing it with others.

Human Nature and the Tendency to Exaggerate: Andersen explores the human tendency to embellish stories, highlighting how easily a small piece of information can be blown out of proportion. This serves as a reminder to be aware of our own tendencies to exaggerate or distort the truth, and to be vigilant in questioning what we hear from others.

The Comical Side of Misunderstandings: While the story carries important messages about gossip and communication, it is also a humorous tale. Andersen uses satire to entertain readers and to underscore the absurdity of the situation created by the characters‘ lack of communication. The story serves as a light-hearted reminder not to take ourselves too seriously and to appreciate the humor that can be found in life’s misunderstandings.

Overall, „There Is No Doubt About It“ is a tale that combines humor with valuable life lessons about the importance of communication, the dangers of gossip, and the human propensity for exaggeration.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „There is no doubt about it“

There have not been many adaptations of „There Is No Doubt About It“ by Hans Christian Andersen. However, the story has been retold in various forms, such as illustrated books, audio recordings, and animated shorts. Some of these adaptations and retellings include:

Illustrated Storybooks: Various editions of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales include „There Is No Doubt About It,“ each featuring different illustrations. These books usually contain a collection of Andersen’s stories, including this one, with illustrations that bring the characters and plot to life.

Audio Recordings: Audiobooks and audio recordings of Andersen’s fairy tales often include „There Is No Doubt About It“ as part of the collection. These recordings typically feature voice actors or narrators who bring the story to life through their vocal performances.

Animated Shorts: While there are no major animated films or TV series adaptations of „There Is No Doubt About It,“ independent animators and storytellers may have created short films or videos inspired by the story. These adaptations can be found on video-sharing platforms like YouTube or Vimeo.

While there haven’t been any high-profile adaptations of „There Is No Doubt About It,“ the story’s themes and lessons are still relevant today. The story’s focus on the dangers of gossip, misinformation, and miscommunication can be easily adapted to various mediums and is a timely reminder for readers and audiences of all ages.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „There is no doubt about it“

„There is no doubt about it“ (also known as „The Shadow“) by Hans Christian Andersen has inspired a number of adaptations in various media, including:

Film adaptations: There have been several film adaptations of the story, including a 1920 silent film directed by Arthur Wellin and a 1994 Czech film directed by Jiri Weiss.

Literary adaptations: The tale has been adapted into various literary forms, including a novel by American author Mary Jane Auch called „The Shadow on the Wall“ and a graphic novel by Italian artist Lorenzo Mattotti.

Stage adaptations: „The Shadow“ has been adapted for the stage numerous times, including a 2015 production by the National Theater in London.

Animated adaptations: The tale has been adapted into various animated forms, including a 1986 animated short film directed by Pascal Morelli and a 1991 animated television special produced by the BBC.

Musical adaptations: The story has also been adapted into a musical, including a 2011 production by the Birmingham Conservatoire.

Overall, „There is no doubt about it“ has proven to be a rich source of inspiration for artists across various mediums, demonstrating the enduring power of Andersen’s timeless tale.

Summary of the plot

„There Is No Doubt About It“ is a satirical fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that focuses on the spread of gossip and misinformation. The story begins with a family of chickens, where one hen lays an egg that is peculiarly shaped. The hen shares this news with the other chickens, and they all start gossiping about it. As the gossip spreads, the story becomes more and more exaggerated.

Soon, the chickens tell the story to a neighboring owl, who is considered wise. The owl, in turn, shares the story with a friend, a one-legged stork, adding further speculation about the egg’s mysterious contents. The stork, intrigued by the tale, shares it with the other birds in the area.

As the story spreads, it becomes increasingly distorted, and the once-simple tale of an oddly shaped egg now involves a fantastical creature that hatched from it. The story reaches humans, who find it so incredible that they decide to investigate the matter themselves.

Upon visiting the henhouse, the humans find that there is no mysterious creature, and the peculiar egg is just an ordinary egg. Realizing that the whole story was a result of gossip and exaggeration, the humans laugh at their own foolishness for believing it. The story serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of gossip, miscommunication, and the power of rumors to spiral out of control.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „There is no doubt about it“

„There is no doubt about it“ is a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, a prolific Danish author who lived between 1805 and 1875. Andersen is best known for his vast collection of fairy tales, which includes classics such as „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ „The Emperor’s New Clothes,“ and „The Snow Queen.“ His stories have been translated into numerous languages and remain popular around the world today.

Andersen’s fairy tales often include moral lessons and social commentaries, with many of them featuring animals as main characters. In the case of „There is no doubt about it,“ the story revolves around poultry and other birds, using their interactions as a means to deliver a lesson about gossip and the distortion of information.

The tale was first published in 1852 as part of Andersen’s „New Fairy Tales“ collection. Although it may not be as well-known as some of his other works, „There is no doubt about it“ shares the imaginative storytelling and timeless moral lessons that are characteristic of Andersen’s writing. It remains a relevant commentary on the dangers of gossip and the importance of accurate information, making it a valuable story for readers of all ages.

Interpretations to fairy tale „There is no doubt about it“

„There is no doubt about it“ is a cautionary tale that carries several important messages and interpretations:

The dangers of gossip: The story demonstrates how gossip can spread quickly and become distorted as it passes from one individual to another. A small, insignificant event is blown out of proportion, causing misunderstandings and harm to the reputations of those involved.

The importance of context: The tale highlights the significance of understanding the context behind a statement or action. The neighboring hen misinterprets the respectable hen’s innocent comment, leading to the spread of false information.

The consequences of sharing incomplete or inaccurate information: As the story travels from one animal to another, it grows more exaggerated and distorted. This emphasizes the responsibility we have to ensure the information we share is accurate and complete.

The role of the media: The tale also explores the role of media in spreading information, particularly when the distorted story is published in the papers. It serves as a reminder that we should critically evaluate the sources of our information and not believe everything we read or hear without question.

Human nature and the attraction to scandal: The story illustrates the tendency of people (and animals, in this case) to be drawn to scandalous or shocking news. The animals in the tale eagerly spread the gossip, despite the negative consequences it may have on the subjects involved.

Overall, „There is no doubt about it“ serves as a timeless reminder of the potential harm that can be caused by gossip, the importance of understanding context, and the need for critical thinking when consuming and sharing information.

Summary of the plot

„There is no doubt about it“ is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that revolves around gossip and the distortion of information. The story begins in a hen-roost, where a respectable hen with white feathers and short legs plucks out a small feather while settling in for the night. She jokingly remarks that the more she plucks, the more beautiful she becomes.

Her neighbor overhears this comment, and despite not fully understanding the context, she feels compelled to share the information with another hen. The story is then overheard by a family of owls, who proceed to spread the story further, exaggerating the details each time. The gossip reaches the doves, who share it with the other poultry, and it eventually makes its way back to the original hen-roost.

By the time the story returns, it has been greatly distorted. The tale now claims that five hens plucked out all their feathers out of love for a cock, pecked each other to death, and brought shame to their families. The respectable hen who lost the single feather doesn’t recognize her own story and insists that such shameful behavior should be publicized. Eventually, the story is printed in the papers, serving as a reminder of how easily gossip can be transformed and exaggerated as it spreads.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES, IT, NL,
Readability Index by Björnsson23.3
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index88.3
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level4.4
Gunning Fog Index7.2
Coleman–Liau Index7
SMOG Index7.6
Automated Readability Index3.7
Character Count4.402
Letter Count3.317
Sentence Count62
Word Count856
Average Words per Sentence13,81
Words with more than 6 letters81
Percentage of long words9.5%
Number of Syllables1.058
Average Syllables per Word1,24
Words with three Syllables35
Percentage Words with three Syllables4.1%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

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