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The motif Pious humility and gratitude in HCA : What the Whole Family Said (1870)
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The Hans Christian Andersen Center

The motif Pious humility and gratitude in HCA : What the Whole Family Said (1870)

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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 :

But in the big bookcase close by stood real books; one of these Godfather often read, and this he called the Book of Books; it was the Bible. In it was pictured the history of the world and the history of all mankind, of the creation, the flood, the kings, and the King of Kings.

"All that has happened and all that will happen is written in this book," said Godfather; "so infinitely much in one single book! Just think of it! Yes, everything that a human being has to pray for is entered there, and said in a few words in the prayer 'Our Father'! It is the drop of mercy! It is the pearl of comfort from God. It is laid as a gift on the baby's cradle, laid on the child's heart. Little child, keep it safely; don't ever lose it, however big you may grow, and you will never be left alone on life's changeful way; it will shine within you and you will never be lost!"

Godfather's eyes radiated joy. Once, in his youth, they had wept, "and this was also good," he said. "That was a time of trial, when everything looked dark and gray. Now I have sunshine within me and around me. The older one grows, the clearer one sees, in both prosperity and misfortune, that our Lord always is with us and that life is the most beautiful of all fairy tales, and this He alone can give us – and so it will be into eternity."

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