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The motif Faith in HCA : The Bishop of Börglum and his Men (1861)
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The motif Faith in HCA : The Bishop of Börglum and his Men (1861)

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Keywords:

Mind, soul, way of living, conduct

Description of this motif: Faith is described both from the outside and from within. Seen from the outside faith is described as e.g. churches, mass, monks and nuns, people praying, seen from within faith is a person's piece of mind, hope and faith in God and life and existence.

Example 1:

There is a stranded ship on the coast, and the Bishop's men are active there on the beach. While the ocean has spared some of the voyagers, these men spare none; the water will wash away all trace of crimson blood that has flowed from broken skulls. The stranded goods – and there are many – all belong to the Bishop. The waves have washed up the anchor and barrels filled with fine wines for the cellar of the monks, where there is already a full supply of ale and mead; there is also a plenitude of poultry, sausages, and ham in their kitchen, and in the ponds outside are fat bass and delicious carp. The Bishop of Börglum is a man of power; he owns much land and yet he wants to acquire more; all must bow before him, Oluf Glob.

(...)

Bishop Oluf of Börglum, what are you pondering over? What are you writing on that white parchment? What is it that you now conceal under band and seal and then give to a knight and his servant, who ride off with it, out of the country, far away to the city of the Pope?

The time of the falling leaves, the season of storms and wrecks, is past, and now icy winter comes. Twice it has come with no tidings from abroad, but now finally with its return the knight and his servant ride back from Rome, bearing a papal ban against the widow who dared oppose the pious Bishop.

"A curse upon her and all that is hers! Cast out is she from church and congregation. None shall dare lend her a helping hand; friends and kinfolk alike must shun her as a plague and pestilence! What will not bend must break," said the Bishop.

The people all forsake her; yet she is steadfast in her trust in God, who alone will be her strength and bulwark.

Comment on this quote: The teller imagines the past. The story of the evil bishop is clearly inspired by the tale "Jens Glob den Hårde", in J.M. Thiele: Danmarks Folkesagn (1843-60), vol. 1, p. 100ff in the edition issued by Rosenkilde og Bagger in 1968. The commentary in DSL: H.C. Andersens eventyr (1963-1990) vol. 7, p. 286ff, adds that the motif of the bishop, who steals the wreckage, is present in Andersen's oeuvre as early as in the novel fragment Christian den Andens Dverg (1831-32) and Agnete og Havmanden (1833).

Example 2:

The church entrance has long been walled up, but superstitious eyes still see the door there, opening before them; the candles in the church brass crowns shine, and the church is revealed in its former splendor, rich with the smoke of incense, while the monks still sing the funeral Mass for the murdered Bishop. He lies there in his silver-bordered robe, the crosier in his powerless hand, the bloody wound shining as red as fire from his pale, proud forehead. There are the worldly mind and evil passions that burned.

Sink into the grave, into the night of oblivion, you dismal memories of the olden days!

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