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The motif Love and tears release the soul in HCA : Under The Willow Tree (1852)
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The motif Love and tears release the soul in HCA : Under The Willow Tree (1852)

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Keywords:

Love, immortality, heart, soul

Description of this motif:

Love can release, save, redeem and free the soul – give it eternal life, immortality – e.g. the little mermaid or "Alferne paa Heden" ('the faries on the moor'), who may be given eternal life from the love of a human, or, in the case of the fairies, by "a tear of remorse or empathy from the human heart", the angel's love for Inger in "The Girl, Who Trod on the Loaf", Gerda's tears, which thaw Kay's frozen heart in "The Snow Queen" or Sorrow's tear in "The Last Pearl", the pearl that lifts the soul towards the eternal.

According to Flemming Hovmann's commentary p. 95 in vol. 7 of H.C. Andersens eventyr, Dansk Sprog- og Litteraturselskab / Borgen 1990, it is a wellknown motif in popular belief, that tears have such power.

Example :

Then they walked hand in hand through the street s of Kjöge, and looked very respectable even on the wrong side; no one could have found any fault with them. On they went, straight toward Kjöge Church, and Knud and Johanne followed them – they, too, walked hand in hand. The church stood there as it had always stood, with the beautiful green ivy growing on its red walls, and the great door of the church swung open, and the organ pealed, and the gingerbread couple walked up the aisle.

"Our master first," said the cake pair, and made room for Johanne and Knud to kneel before the altar. And she bent her head over him, and the tears fell from her eyes, but they were icy cold, for it was the ice around her heart that was melting, softened by his strong love.

The tears fell upon his burning cheeks, and then he awoke – and he was sitting under the old willow tree in a foreign land on that cold winter evening; an icy hail from the could s was beating on his face.

"That was the most wonderful hour of my life!" he cried. "And it was just a dream. Oh, God, let me dream again!

Then he closed his eyes once more and dreamed again.

Comment on this quote:

Knud's wish comes true in a dream: he is united with the beloved in church. he awakes, but prefers to dream on, in spite of the obvious dangers of sleeping sitting in the cold. He chooses the dream and death instead of life, and he is found dead in the snow the next day, like the little match girl and the old oak tree.

The motif of tears, that sets free, is reversed: In The Snow Queen Gerda's tears thaw Kay's frozen heart, but her her icecold tears fall on his cheek and wake him up to the tragic reality.

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