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The motif Love and tears release the soul in HCA : The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf (1859)
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The motif Love and tears release the soul in HCA : The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf (1859)

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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 :

She heard her name mentioned now and then by her former mistress, and it was in the mildest way that she spoke: "I wonder if I will ever see you again, Inger! One never knows where one is to go!" But Inger knew that her kindly mistress would never descend to the place where she was.

Again a long time passed, slowly and bitterly. Then Inger heard her name again, and she beheld above her what seemed to be two bright stars shining down on her. They were two mild eyes that were closing on earth. So many years had passed since a little girl had wept over "Poor Inger" that that child had become an old woman, now being called by the Lord to Himself. At that last hour, when the thoughts and deeds of a lifetime pass in review, she remembered very clearly how, as a tiny child, she had wept over the sad story of Inger. That time and that sorrow were so intensely in the old woman's mind at the moment of death that she cried with all her heart, "My Lord, have I not often, like poor Inger, trampled underfoot Your blessed gifts and counted them of no value? Have I not often been guilty of the sin of pride and vanity in my inmost heart? But in Your mercy You did not let me sink into the abyss, but did sustain me! Oh, forsake me not in my final hour!"

Then the old woman's eyes closed, but the eyes of her soul were opened to things formerly hidden; and as Inger had been so vividly present in her last thoughts she could see the poor girl, see how deeply she had sunk. And at that dreadful sight the gentle soul burst into tears; in the kingdom of heaven itself she stood like a child and wept for the fate of the unhappy Inger. Her tears and prayers came like an echo down to the hollow, empty shape that held the imprisoned, tortured soul. And that soul was overwhelmed by all that unexpected love from above. One of God's angels wept for her! Why was this granted her?

The tormented soul gathered into one thought all the deeds of its earthly life, and trembled with tears, such tears as Inger had never wept before. Grief filled her whole being. And as in deepest humility she thought that for her the gates of mercy would never be opened, a brilliant ray penetrated down into the abyss to her; it was a ray more powerful than the sunbeams that melt the snowmen that boys make in their yards. And under this ray, more swiftly than the snowflake falling upon a child's warm lips melts into a drop of water, the petrified figure of Inger evaporated; then a tiny bird arose and followed the zigzag path of the ray up to the world of mankind.

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