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The motif Pious humility and gratitude in HCA : The Candles (1870)
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The Hans Christian Andersen Center

The motif Pious humility and gratitude in HCA : The Candles (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 :

The table was spread and the potatoes were eaten. How good they tasted! It was a real feast. There was an apple for everyone, and the smallest child said grace:

"Now thanks, dear Lord, I give to Thee
That Thou again hast filled me. Amen."

"And didn't I say it nicely?" the little girl asked.

"Don't say such things," her mother told her. "Just thank the good Lord for filling you up."

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