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Two Brothers
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Two Brothers - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 6 min

On one of the Danish islands, where old Thingstones, the seats of justice of our forefathers, still stand in the cornfields, and huge trees rise in the forests of beech, there lies a little town whose low houses are covered with red tiles. In one of these houses strange things were brewing over the glowing coals on the open hearth. There was a boiling going on in glasses, and a mixing and distilling, while herbs were being cut up and pounded in mortars. An elderly man looked after it all.

„One must only do the right thing,“ he said; „yes, the right– the correct thing. One must find out the truth concerning every created particle, and keep to that.“

In the room with the good housewife sat her two sons. They were still small, but had great thoughts. Their mother, too, had always spoken to them of right and justice, and exhorted them to keep to the truth, which she said was the countenance of the Lord in this world.

The elder of the boys looked roguish and enterprising. He took a delight in reading of the forces of nature, of the sun and the moon. No fairy tale pleased him so much. Oh, how beautiful it must be, he thought, to go on voyages of discovery, or to find out how to imitate the wings of birds and then to be able to fly! Yes, to find that out was the right thing. Father was right, and mother was right– truth holds the world together.

The younger brother was quieter, and buried himself entirely in his books. When he read about Jacob dressing himself in sheep-skins to personify Esau, and so to usurp his brother’s birthright, he would clench his little fist in anger against the deceiver. When he read of tyrants and of the injustice and wickedness of the world, tears would come into his eyes, and he was quite filled with the thought of the justice and truth which must and would triumph.

One evening he was lying in bed, but the curtains were not yet drawn close, and the light streamed in upon him. He had taken his book into bed with him, for he wanted to finish reading the story of Solon. His thoughts lifted and carried him away a wonderful distance. It seemed to him as if the bed had become a ship flying along under full sail. Was he dreaming, or what was happening? It glided over the rolling waves and across the ocean of time, and to him came the voice of Solon; spoken in a strange tongue, yet intelligible to him, he heard the Danish motto: „By law the land is ruled.“

The genius of the human race stood in the humble room, bent down over the bed and imprinted a kiss on the boy’s forehead: „Be thou strong in fame and strong in the battle of life! With truth in thy heart fly toward the land of truth!“

The elder brother was not yet in bed. He was standing at the window looking out at the mist which rose from the meadows. They were not elves dancing out there, as their old nurse had told him. He knew better– they were vapours which were warmer than the air, and that is why they rose. A shooting star lit up the sky, and the boy’s thoughts passed in a second from the vapours of the earth up to the shining meteor. The stars gleamed in the heavens, and it seemed as if long golden threads hung down from them to the earth.

„Fly with me,“ sang a voice, which the boy heard in his heart. And the mighty genius of mankind, swifter than a bird and than an arrow– swifter than anything of earthly origin– carried him out into space, where the heavenly bodies are bound together by the rays that pass from star to star. Our earth revolved in the thin air, and the cities upon it seemed to lie close to each other. Through the spheres echoed the words:

„What is near, what is far, when thou art lifted by the mighty genius of mind?“

And again the boy stood by the window, gazing out, whilst his younger brother lay in bed. Their mother called them by their names: „Anders Sandoe“ and „Hans Christian.“

Denmark and the whole world knows them– the two brothers Oersted.

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Backgrounds to fairy tale „Two brothers“

„Two Brothers“ is a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen. Although not as well-known as some of his other stories, it still contains important themes and messages.

The story is about two brothers, who are quite different from each other. The older brother is hardworking, humble, and honest, while the younger brother is lazy, selfish, and dishonest. Despite their differences, they live together, and the older brother always looks out for his younger sibling.

One day, the brothers find a magical stone that can grant wishes. The older brother wishes for prosperity and happiness, and soon after, his farm flourishes, and he becomes wealthy. The younger brother, driven by greed and envy, steals the stone and wishes for even greater riches. However, his wish backfires, and he is transformed into a greedy troll.

The older brother, still concerned for his sibling, sets out to find a way to break the curse and bring his brother back to his human form. Along the way, he encounters several obstacles and challenges, but his determination and kindness prevail. In the end, the older brother manages to break the curse and save his brother. The younger brother learns the importance of honesty and hard work, and the two brothers live happily ever after.

„Two Brothers“ explores themes such as the consequences of greed, the importance of hard work and honesty, and the power of love and forgiveness. Like many of Andersen’s other stories, this fairy tale teaches valuable life lessons through engaging storytelling.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Two brothers“

The fairy tale „Two Brothers“ by Hans Christian Andersen can be interpreted in several ways, focusing on themes like sibling rivalry, moral values, and the power of perseverance.

Sibling rivalry: The story highlights the dynamic between the two brothers and their contrasting personalities. It serves as a cautionary tale, warning against the dangers of jealousy and envy, which can lead to harmful consequences, as seen with the younger brother’s wicked actions.

Moral values: The tale emphasizes the importance of honesty, hard work, and integrity. The older brother’s strong moral compass and commitment to doing what is right allow him to overcome the obstacles placed in his path, ultimately leading to his success and happiness. In contrast, the younger brother’s dishonest and greedy nature results in his downfall.

The power of perseverance: The older brother’s journey is filled with challenges and setbacks, yet he never gives up. Instead, he continues to work hard and maintain his integrity, even when faced with adversity. This theme teaches readers the importance of determination and resilience in the face of obstacles.

Fate and destiny: The story also explores the idea of fate and destiny, as the older brother’s actions and choices lead him to his ultimate success. Despite the younger brother’s attempts to sabotage his sibling’s happiness, the older brother’s steadfast commitment to his principles ensures that he finds his rightful place in the world.

Overall, „Two Brothers“ serves as a moral lesson, emphasizing the importance of honesty, perseverance, and strong values n achieving success and happiness in life. It also highlights the consequences of negative traits such as jealousy and deceit, demonstrating that these qualities can ultimately lead to personal downfall and misery.

Forgiveness and redemption: Another theme present in the story is the power of forgiveness and the potential for redemption. Although the younger brother’s actions are driven by envy and greed, he eventually realizes the error of his ways and seeks forgiveness from his older brother. This aspect of the story teaches readers about the importance of acknowledging one’s mistakes and the possibility of finding redemption through genuine remorse and personal growth.

The role of external forces: The tale also examines the influence of external forces, such as supernatural elements, on the characters‘ lives. In the story, the older brother is aided by magical beings who help him overcome obstacles and achieve his goals. This aspect of the story underscores the idea that sometimes, external forces can play a crucial role in shaping our lives, for better or worse.

Family bonds and loyalty: Despite the conflict between the two brothers, the story ultimately emphasizes the importance of family bonds and loyalty. When the younger brother realizes his mistakes and seeks forgiveness, the older brother embraces him, demonstrating the power of family ties and the potential for reconciliation.

In summary, „Two Brothers“ offers a rich tapestry of themes, including sibling rivalry, moral values, perseverance, fate, forgiveness, redemption, the role of external forces, and the significance of family bonds. These themes not only make the story engaging and relatable but also impart valuable life lessons to readers. The tale encourages its audience to embrace honesty, hard work, and strong moral values, while warning against the dangers of jealousy, deceit, and negative traits. Furthermore, it highlights the power of forgiveness, redemption, and the importance of family connections, even in the face of conflict and adversity.
In a broader sense, „Two Brothers“ also serves as a reflection of the human condition, exploring the complexities of relationships, the influence of external forces on our lives, and the eternal struggle between good and evil. By delving into these universal themes, Hans Christian Andersen’s story transcends its time and place, offering insights and lessons that remain relevant to readers across generations.

Through its rich narrative and engaging characters, „Two Brothers“ showcases the enduring appeal of fairy tales as a means of exploring human nature, morality, and the challenges of life. With its timeless themes and enduring lessons, this story continues to captivate and inspire audiences, making it an integral part of the literary legacy of Hans Christian Andersen.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Two brothers“

While there may not be many well-known adaptations of Hans Christian Andersen’s „Two Brothers,“ the story has inspired various works and interpretations. Here are some examples:

Retellings and collections: „Two Brothers“ has been included in various fairy tale collections and anthologies, where it’s often adapted or retold to fit the specific audience or theme of the book. Some collections may provide a more modernized or simplified version of the story, making it more accessible to younger readers.

Stage productions: The story’s themes and moral lessons make it suitable for stage adaptations, such as plays or musicals, particularly for children or family audiences. These adaptations may take creative liberties with the plot or characters, adding new elements or enhancing the story’s magical and fantastical aspects.

Animated adaptations: „Two Brothers“ could be adapted into an animated short film or TV episode, as part of a series dedicated to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. This medium would allow for the story’s magical elements, such as the troll transformation and talking animals, to be visually depicted in a vivid and engaging manner.

Educational materials: The story’s themes of honesty, hard work, and the consequences of greed make it suitable for use in educational materials, such as lesson plans or activity books, designed to teach children about important values and morals.

While specific examples of adaptations may be limited or less well-known, the themes and moral lessons in „Two Brothers“ continue to inspire and influence various works in literature, theater,and other forms of media. The story’s timeless messages about honesty, hard work, forgiveness, and the consequences of greed make it a relevant and valuable source of inspiration for new adaptations and retellings. As more creators discover the story, we can expect to see more adaptations of „Two Brothers“ across different mediums, reaching new audiences and imparting its important lessons to future generations.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „Two brothers“

„Two Brothers“ by Hans Christian Andersen has been adapted in various forms and media, including:

Film adaptations: The fairy tale has been adapted into several films, including „Brothers“ (1977), a Soviet animated film, and „The Two Brothers“ (1994), a Japanese animated film.

Stage adaptations: The story has been adapted into stage productions, including a ballet version by the Royal Danish Ballet, choreographed by Flemming Flindt, and a musical adaptation by the composer Frank Loesser.

Literature adaptations: The story has been retold in various forms of literature, including picture books, chapter books, and graphic novels. One notable retelling is „The Golden Key“ by George MacDonald, which features a similar plot and themes.

Audio adaptations: The story has been adapted into audio format, including audiobooks and podcasts. One notable adaptation is „Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen“ by Jimcin Recordings, which features a collection of Andersen’s fairy tales, including „Two Brothers.“

Visual adaptations: The story has been adapted into visual art, including illustrations and paintings. One notable illustration is by the artist Edmund Dulac, which features an ethereal depiction of the two brothers.

Overall, „Two Brothers“ by Hans Christian Andersen has inspired various adaptations in different media, showcasing the enduring popularity and relevance of the fairy tale.

Summary of the plot

„Two Brothers“ is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen that tells the story of two brothers who embark on separate journeys in life. The elder brother is hardworking, honest, and kind, while the younger brother is selfish, deceitful, and lazy.

The elder brother goes out into the world to make his fortune and encounters various obstacles along the way. Despite the challenges, he remains steadfast in his morals, helping those in need and staying true to his values. His kindness and honesty earn him the love of a beautiful princess, who he eventually marries, and he becomes a prosperous and respected king.

The younger brother, envious of his elder sibling’s success, decides to seek his fortune as well. However, instead of relying on hard work and honesty, he resorts to deceit and trickery. He encounters a series of challenges and misadventures, but rather than learning from his mistakes, he sinks deeper into his wicked ways.

Eventually, the younger brother finds himself in a dire situation, and the elder brother, despite their differences, comes to his rescue. The younger brother, realizing the error of his ways, seeks forgiveness and redemption. In the end, the two brothers reconcile, and the younger brother learns the value of honesty, hard work, and strong moral values. The story concludes with the brothers returning to their homeland and living out their days in peace and harmony, having learned important life lessons from their respective journeys.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „Two brothers“

„Two Brothers“ is a fairy tale by the famous Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, known for his numerous contributions to children’s literature, including stories such as „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ and „The Snow Queen.“ Born in 1805, Andersen’s stories have been translated into more than 125 languages and have become an integral part of Western children’s literature.

„Two Brothers“ stands out among Andersen’s other stories, as it is based on the lives of two real Danish brothers, Hans Christian Oersted (1777-1851) and Anders Sandoe Oersted (1778-1863). The brothers were influential figures in the fields of science and law during their time and were deeply inspired by their upbringing, as portrayed in the tale.

Hans Christian Oersted was a prominent physicist and chemist, best known for his discovery of electromagnetism in 1820, which played a significant role in the development of modern physics. He also contributed to the fields of optics, crystallography, and the establishment of the first Danish technological institute, the Technical University of Denmark.

Anders Sandoe Oersted, on the other hand, was a distinguished jurist, politician, and botanist. He served as Denmark’s Attorney General and later as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He also became a professor of botany and made significant contributions to the study of plants in Denmark and abroad, particularly in Central America.

„Two Brothers“ thus serves as a tribute to the Oersted brothers and their remarkable accomplishments, drawing attention to the themes of truth, knowledge, human potential, and family values that shaped their lives and work.

Interpretations to fairy tale „Two brothers“

„Two Brothers“ by Hans Christian Andersen offers several interpretations, focusing on themes of truth, knowledge, human potential, and family values.

The Pursuit of Truth and Knowledge: The story emphasizes the importance of seeking truth and understanding in the natural world, as well as in literature and human interactions. The elder brother’s fascination with the forces of nature and the younger brother’s dedication to learning from books both illustrate the value of curiosity and the drive to comprehend the world around them.

The Power of Human Potential: The brothers‘ visions or dreams, where they are transported by the mighty genius of mankind, demonstrate the limitless potential of the human mind. Their subsequent achievements in science and literature, as well as their international renown, further reinforce the idea that individuals are capable of great accomplishments when they are driven by curiosity, determination, and a passion for discovery.

Family Values and Upbringing: The mother’s teachings on truth, justice, and righteousness play a significant role in shaping the brothers‘ characters and future success. By instilling strong values and encouraging the pursuit of knowledge, she lays the foundation for her sons‘ accomplishments. This theme highlights the importance of nurturing and guiding children to become compassionate, morally upright, and intellectually curious individuals.

Unity in Diversity: Although the two brothers have different interests and pursuits, they share a common passion for truth and knowledge, and their individual achievements contribute to the overall progress of humanity. This theme suggests that people, despite their differences, can come together and work towards the greater good.

The Triumph of Truth and Justice: Throughout the story, both brothers firmly believe in the ultimate victory of truth and justice over deceit and injustice. Their lives become testaments to this belief, as their contributions to science and literature serve to illuminate and inspire generations to come. This theme underscores the importance of maintaining a strong moral compass and using one’s talents to promote good in the world.

Overall, „Two Brothers“ by Hans Christian Andersen serves as an inspiring tale of intellectual curiosity, personal growth, and the power of human potential, while emphasizing the importance of family values and the pursuit of truth and justice.

Summary of the plot

„Two Brothers“ by Hans Christian Andersen is a tale set in a small Danish town where an elderly man is dedicated to discovering the truth about every particle of creation. His two young sons, still small but full of ambition, are nurtured by their mother, who teaches them the values of truth, justice, and righteousness.

The elder brother, adventurous and inquisitive, is fascinated by nature and dreams of exploring the world or discovering the secret to flight. The younger brother, more introspective, immerses himself in books, often becoming emotional over stories of deceit and injustice. Both boys believe that truth and justice will ultimately prevail.

One evening, the younger brother lies in bed, absorbed in the story of Solon. As he drifts between waking and dreaming, he imagines his bed becoming a ship sailing across the ocean of time. The spirit of Solon speaks to him, imparting the Danish motto, „By law, the land is ruled.“ The genius of the human race appears, blessing the boy with strength and urging him to seek the land of truth.

Meanwhile, the elder brother gazes out the window at the rising mist, contemplating the wonders of nature. He is suddenly swept into space by the mighty genius of mankind, where he experiences the interconnectedness of the universe. The celestial journey leaves him awestruck, realizing the vastness of knowledge and the power of human potential.

Their mother calls to them, revealing their names as „Anders Sandoe“ and „Hans Christian.“ The tale is about the two famous Danish brothers, Anders and Hans Christian Oersted, who went on to become renowned figures in the fields of science and literature, respectively. Through their pursuit of truth and knowledge, they became symbols of human achievement, demonstrating the power of the human spirit and the importance of staying true to one’s values.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES, NL
Readability Index by Björnsson31.9
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index79.8
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level6.7
Gunning Fog Index9.2
Coleman–Liau Index8.6
SMOG Index8.5
Automated Readability Index7.3
Character Count3.948
Letter Count3.055
Sentence Count40
Word Count737
Average Words per Sentence18,43
Words with more than 6 letters99
Percentage of long words13.4%
Number of Syllables944
Average Syllables per Word1,28
Words with three Syllables34
Percentage Words with three Syllables4.6%
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