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The motif Gods, spirits and demons in HCA : Sunshine Stories (1869)
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The motif Gods, spirits and demons in HCA : Sunshine Stories (1869)

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Religious motifs : Overview. Search. About religious motifs

Gods, spirits and demons contains among others: Amor, Ole Lukoie, the sandman, Fate (goddess), Troll, Pixie

See also Angels, Merman, mermaid

Description of this motif: "Gods", in plural, are gods from other religions than the monotheistic, e.g. from the Greek, Roman or old Norse pantheons. Sprits and demons are closely related beings, who are represented in both state religions and folklore. Often such beings are related to an element or place and represents it personified, e.g. the sea, the night, the wind, the winter.

Example 1:

"I'll tell you a story," said the wind. "Kindly remember," said the Rain, "that it's my turn to talk. You've been howling around the corner at the top of your voice quite long enough."

"Is that the thanks I get for all of the favors I've done you?" the Wind blustered. "Many an umbrella I've turned inside out, or even blown to tatters, when people tried to avoid you."

"Be silent! It is I who shall speak," said the Sunshine, who spoke with such brilliance and warmth that the weary Wind fell flat on his back, and the Rain shook him and tried to rouse him, crying: "We won't stand for it. This Madam Sunshine is forever interrupting us. Don't lets listen to her. What she says is not worth hearing."

And the Sunshine began: "A beautiful swan flew over the rolling, tossing waves of the ocean. Each of its feathers shone like gold. One feather drifted down above a great merchant ship that sailed the sea with all its canvas spread. The feather came to rest upon the curly hair of a young overseer who looked after the goods aboard that ship – supercargo they called him. The bird of fortune's feather touched his forehead, became a quill pen in his hand, and brought him such luck that he soon became a merchant, a man of wealth, a man so rich that he could wear spurs of gold and change a golden dish into a nobleman's shield. I know – I have shone on it," said the Sunshine.

"The swan flew far away, over a green meadow where a little shepherd boy, not more than seven years old, lay in the shade of an old tree, the only tree in that meadow. As the swan flew past it, she brushed one leaf from the tree. This leaf fell into the boy's hands, where it turned into three leaves, ten leaves – yes, it turned into all the leaves of a book. In this book he read of the many wonderful things that are in nature, about his native language, about faith, and about knowledge.

Comment on this quote: The swan, that brings happiness to people in this tale, is a recurring symbol of spirit in Andersen's oeuvre. In Danish, the last part of the last sentence, "about faith, and about knowledge.

", says "om Tro og Viden", i.e. "faith and knowledge", referring to the great clash between the words of the Bible and the modern science and philosophy. Andersen tried to unite the two, conceiving (science about) the wonders and facts of nature as proving the greatness of the Creator, thus reveiling a romantic view, inspired by the period and, among others, his friend, the Danish scientist Hans Christian Ørsted, who authored the book Aanden i Naturen ('The Spirit in Nature' – the laws of nature being the thoughts of God).

Example 2:

"The swan flew over the forest, where it was lonely and quiet. She came to rest on a deep blue lake, where the water lilies grow, where wild apple trees flourish along the shore, and where the cuckoo and wild pigeon make their nests.

"A poor woman was in the forest, gathering fallen branches. She carried them on her back, and held a baby in her arms. She saw the golden swan, that bird of fortune, rise from the rush-covered shore. What was this glittering thing the swan had left? It was a golden egg, still warm. She put it in her bosom, and the warmth stayed in it. Truly there was life in that egg. Yes, she heard a tapping inside the shell, but it was so faint that she mistook it for the sound of her own heartbeat.

"When she came home to her own poor cottage, she took the egg out to look at it. 'Tick,' it said, 'tick,' as if it had been a costly gold watch. But it was no watch. It was an egg, just about to hatch. The shell cracked open, and a dear little baby swan looked out. It was fully feathered, all in gold, and around its neck were four gold rings. As the poor woman had four boys – three at home and the baby she had carried in her arms – she knew that one of the rings was meant for each of her sons. As soon as she realized this, the little golden bird flew away. She kissed all of the rings, and she made each son kiss one of them, touch it against his heart, and wear it on his finger.

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