Literary Analysis of Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Tinderbox’
‘The Tinderbox’ is one of the fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen. The story talks about the exploits of a solider and how with the help of a tinderbox is able to achieve important feats that would forever change his life. Evident in Andersen’s approach to storytelling corresponds to simple plots and use of supernatural features that include magic to aid the protagonist. It is through this approach to storytelling that Andersen is able to convey a different meaning to audiences and influenced his legacy in the succeeding generations (Hughes 1). Like many of his stories, ‘The Tinderbox’ offers readers with specific themes that remain to be pertinent in numerous of Anderson’s works.
One of the themes explored by the story is greed. Within the story, Andersen portrays both the protagonist and antagonist to be influenced by this perspective. For instance, the witch in the story shows greediness in her search for power that the tinderbox offers while the soldier is blinded by how the gold he acquired would forever change his life and influence his status in life (Andersen 1). Likewise, Andersen is able to show the consequence of greed to the characters in the story. The fate of the witch dying and the soldier losing his wealth demonstrates the negative impact that greed can create to an individual’s life. For the soldier however, the lessons of losing everything would change his outlook in life.
Another important theme portrayed by this story reflects the rags-to-riches story of the protagonist. Like many fairy tales, Andersen advances this perspective to help readers appreciate that hard work and purity of heart can provide opportunities to improve life. Specifically, the story revolves around the journey of the soldier into achieving this rags-to-riches story. It begins with the discovery of gold alongside the tinderbox. Even if there was a period wherein he lost everything, the tinderbox became his salvation and offered him not only riches but also the hand of the princess she loves (Shanks 1). Altogether, Andersen provides readers with a happy ending wherein the protagonist gets everything he clamored for due to the power and magic of the tinderbox.
Lastly, the tinderbox can also be a powerful representation of how love conquers everything. In particular, one of the conflicts depicted by Andersen in the story is the obstacles that the soldier had to endure in order to marry the princess. Though it was never his interest at first to marry the princess, it is because of love that the soldier endured the struggles associated with the story. Both the witch and the king in the story serve as hindrances for the soldier (Shanks 1). Despite these challenges, the soldier continued to pursue his objective and with the help of the tinderbox he was able to overcome these challenges and marry the princess. Arguably, this approach is one reason as to why this story of Andersen can be classified as a fairy tale.
Overall, Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Tinderbox is considered one of his fairy tales. The author espouses the interest of readers by offering a journey of a simple soldier into becoming rich and through the process acquires a tinderbox that can grant him anything he wishes for. Even if there are certain obstacles along the way, the soldier’s persistence offered ways to overcome these challenges. Equally, the tinderbox remains to be instrumental in helping the soldier achieve his dreams of riches and love. Each component arguably remains to be a powerful instrument in helping Andersen connect to readers and convey the important themes that influence the outcome of his piece and enable the work through the time since it was first written.
Andersen, Hans Christian. The Tinder Box. 1835. Web. Accessed 28 August 2014.
Hughes, Kathryn. ‘Twice upon a time…’ the Guardian. 4 Dec. 2004.Web. Accessed 28 August 2014.
Shanks, Cindy. ‘Fairy Tale Analysis the Tinderbox’ Humanities 360. 6 Aug. 2012. Web. Accessed 28 August 2014.