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The motif Pious humility and gratitude in HCA : The Psyche (1861)
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The Hans Christian Andersen Center

The motif Pious humility and gratitude in HCA : The Psyche (1861)

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Description of this motif:

Humility is in Andersen's writings almost always connected with persons' being world-oriented, thus often also against its creator, God, or being self-centered. Self-satisfied and self-sufficient characters are often exposed in Andersen' oeuvre. Their charateristics are pettiness, intolerance, a narrow mind, insensibility, being ungratified, because the world seems cruel and unjust and doesn't give them enough, and arrogant pride. The proud and self-sufficient persons thinks that all that is good comes from him-/herself. The humble sees the world around her and her own conditions as sent from God. The humble is satisfied with the facts of life and even thanks (God) for everything.

The rose in "The Snail and the Rosebush" is, in contradiction to the snail, a pious grateful and extrovert type, giving its best to the world. "The Snail and the Rosebush" is a textbook example of the motif and is in addition extraordinary, because God isn't mentioned explicitly as the source of the gifts of life.

Example :

The morning star saw it and understood all that was stirring in the young man's mind, understood the changing color of his cheeks, the look in his eyes, while he strove to utilize the gift God had granted him.

"You are a master like those in the time of the Greeks," said his friends. "Soon the whole world will be admiring your Psyche!"

"My Psyche!" he repeated. "Mine! Yes, she must be mine! I am an artist like the mighty ones of olden times! God has given me this gift in order to raise me to the level of the nobility!" He fell upon his knees and cried in gratitude to God; but he soon forgot Him and thought only of her and her image in marble, his Psyche who stood there as though carved from snow, blushing in the morning sunlight.

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