The Marsh King’s Daughter

The Marsh King's DaughterThe Marsh King’s Daughter

*Let’s start off by saying that this is probably the longest Andersen story there is and it’s not going to be the greatest summary.*

There was a family of storks who lived on a Viking’s castle way back in the day. They also happened to live not too far away from the swamp. One day three swans flew there, but one swan’s feathers were torn away by the other two swans. This swan wasn’t a swan at all but a princess.

The princess sank down and down into the swamp, which was home to a swamp king. Nothing more was heard of her for some time. One day the daddy stork found a baby in a water-lily. The daddy stork rightly figured that a tiny baby could not survive on its own in the swap. He figured that since everyone said that storks bring the baby anyway, that he would take the baby to the viking queen.

The queen was overjoyed to have a baby, but the little girl proved to be challenging in multiple ways. Firstly, her disposition as a human baby was horrible. She bit. She fussed. She did all the terrible things that babies do, but all the time. Second of all, she wasn’t always a human baby. When the sun set, she turned into a frog. The frog did not have a horrible attitude. The frog was a calm and caring creature. When the sun came back up, the frog turned back into the horrible little girl.

The viking queen was so thrilled to have a child that she ignored all of this. She hid the girl’s ability to turn into a frog from her husband. The husband thought the girl’s bad temper was funny. He thought it was so great that she was so fierce and wild; what else was the viking king’s daughter supposed to be.

The years passed by and the child grew into a young woman named Helga, who was beautiful and terrible during the day and an ugly frog at night with the sweetest disposition ever. The mother grew to love the frog almost more than the girl. Helga was uncontrollable though. She wanted to be the one sacrificing all the animals to the Pagan gods. She wanted to play in the blood that poured from their bodies.

One day a Christian preacher showed up at the castle. The vikings thought this was just great because they now had a human to sacrifice in the grove. Helga said she wanted to  be the one to sprinkle his blood on all in attendance. The mother worried over both Helga and the preacher. The preacher hadn’t done anything wrong.

That night when Helga turned back into the frog, she let the preacher go. She gave him her horse and she went with him. They traveled and were attacked. Helga mourned the loss of the Christian, but realized there was something more. The preacher had said she was possessed by an evil spirit and tried to cleanse her. Helga became repentant and the preacher’s ghost helped her find her way.

Meanwhile, the storks had been to Egypt, where they heard about the other two swans that had torn apart the other swan’s wings. The first swan was really the king’s daughter. The other two swans were lesser princesses who were jealous of her. They had torn her wings apart and told the king that she had died. The princess had been on a journey to find a special flower that would cure her father of his disease. Upon hearing this the storks decided to steal the swan wings from the evil princesses. They took them back to their nest at the Viking’s castle.

Along the way, Helga’s true mother appeared. She told her that she had really come from Egypt and that she was the flower that would cure the king there. Helga knew she should say goodbye to her foster-mother first and she did. The storks gave the mother and her daughter the swan wings so they could fly back to Egypt. The storks and the swans flew together. They made it back to Egypt and Helga was able to cure the king.

Due to her new-found faith, Helga prayed that she could see heaven. Upon her wedding day to an Arab prince, Helga prayed so hard that she saw heaven for three minutes. She then came back down to the Earth. When she did everything was different. Upon inquiring, she found that her wedding had been hundreds of years previously. No one knew who she was. There had once been a princess fitting her description, but she had been married and just disappeared. When the sun came back up that morning, it hit Helga and she vanished into dust.

Observations

I told you, really long, and this is just the summary.

Why did people think it was possible for someone to turn into a frog? Surely, people knew by this point in history that it just couldn’t happen. I have to wonder, where the idea of people turning into animals started. Cultures all over the world have stories about people who can transform themselves into animals, seemingly independent of all the other stories of other cultures. How did it come about that basically every culture has a story about turning into a wild creature?

In this story the roles were reversed. The human had the animal’s demeanor and the animal had the human’s demeanor. Usually when a human turns into an animal they possess an animal’s instincts, but in this story, it’s the other way around.

Quotation-Billy-Graham-parenting-parents-respect-child-Meetville-Quotes-193449Themes

This is a religious story to an extent. Notice this story doesn’t necessarily paint the pagans in a bad light. The mother was still a good person; she still took care of Helga even though Helga was absolutely beastly. She could have thrown that baby back into the swamp. Helga was a monster and this story says she was possessed by an evil spirit.

Honestly, this story would make a wonderful scary movie. Somebody get to work on that.

When Helga found Jesus, her mood changed. She was no longer subject to her beastly attitude. That animalistic part of her soul did not have such a great hold upon her. She could overcome it. That’s what marks us as human after all, we can overcome our animal urges and act civilized.

Finding Jesus, helped Helga to save herself, her mother, and her grandfather, but what did it ultimately profit her? She missed her life and then she died. Do you think she would have preferred to have stayed evil and lived a long life or found Jesus and lived the short life that she did? Is it better to live a short life and have Jesus than to live a long life and then go straight to Hell when you die? Living a long life isn’t going to put off what’s inevitable for you.

I think Helga ended up on the good end, even if her life was awfully short.

Here’s the thing–part of this wasn’t Helga’s fault. Was it Helga’s fault that her father was some swamp man? Was it Helga’s fault that she inherited his animal side? Was it Helga’s fault that she knew nothing of how to control this side of herself? Was any of this Helga’s fault?

When she got a little older, sure, some of her actions fell upon her own shoulders. She was spoiled and encouraged in her nasty attitude by her viking father. The things she did as a child before she knew anything weren’t her fault. The way she was taught wasn’t her fault, but this story seems to lay all the blame of her life upon her head. I’m sorry, but if someone misleads you and you have no way of knowing that you’ve been misled, your sins are kind of upon their head, not yours. If you, at some point, learn there is another way, but you still choose to act the way you did, then your sins are upon your own head, but if you don’t know and you cannot know, then it’s not your fault.

Helga wasn’t freaking possessed, she just didn’t know any better.

Overall

I hope heaven is good for Helga at least.

Weigh In

Do you think parents have a difficult time accepting their child’s behavior as their responsibility?

Does finding God mean you are more accountable than a person who doesn’t have God?

Something

SomethingSomething

There were once five brothers who all wanted to do something in the world. One wanted to be a brick maker, another a builder, another an architect, another wanted to be an inventor of sorts, but the fifth wanted to be a critic.

The first went off and became a brick maker. He made money and was kind with the extra that he had. He gave broken bricks and whole bricks, to a widow to build herself a house. He was a kind man who was sorely missed when he died.

The second brother did become a builder and built many houses. He was admired in the area. He too died well liked.

The third brother did become an architect and designed the houses his brother built. The street was even named after him. He received many titles and was well liked, but he too died.

The fourth brother became a great idea man. He wanted to build a large building, a tower, but it did not work and fell down with him on it and he died young, but people erected a monument to him. Overall, he was also well liked and stood for something.

The fifth brother lived the longest of them all. He criticized everything they did. He never really did anything, but because he did nothing and got paid for it, people considered that he was something. One day he too died.

At the gates of heaven, the brother was going to enter with an old widow woman. He asked her what she had done in her life. She said she had not done much. She had lived by a body of water where people skated in the winter. One day a great storm came up. She knew it would break up the ice and all the people skating on it would die. She tried shouting at them, but they did not hear her. She could not think of any other way to get them off the ice but to burn her own house down.

She set her house aflame with her in it. The skaters saw it and came rushing to her aid, but it was too late, the old woman died, not in vain though. The storm did come and it did break up the ice. All those who had been on it only moments before would have perished. The woman saved them all by losing her life.

The critic didn’t quite know what to make of this and had nothing to say. The angel at the gate questioned him upon his merit and the old woman told the angel that the critic’s own brother had given her materials to build her house and that was something. The angel said the critic could come into heaven if he could perform one act of repentance outside of the gates of heaven. The critic thought about it and that was something.

Observations

I didn’t know there were people who made money as critics back in Hans’ day, but I guess there were.

I have to wonder if the storm that broke up the ice was a tornado. Are there tornadoes in Denmark?

Lexie_14x48Themes

Each of these men all aspired to do something and they all did, in their own way. The critic was respected, but probably did the least amount of something out of all the brothers. In all actuality, the critic did do a lot, but he didn’t do a lot that helped other people.

I once watched a documentary about people who had near death experiences. One of the people mentioned that while he was “dead” he saw that our lives were measured by how we touched other people. Our help to other people would ripple out like a web and connect us and our deeds and our merit. If you think of this story on those terms, it makes sense.

The first four brothers and did things that affected other people. They all managed to do something that helped people. The first brother made bricks to create home for people. The second brother made homes for people. The third brother designed homes for people. The fourth brother, although his life was short, gave people something to look up to. The  fifth brother criticized people and who really likes that? Criticism is considered such a bad word because most criticism you get is negative. Negative can be necessary, but generally, negative is not a good thing in people’s eyes. Negative is stressful and it can deeply hurt people. It wouldn’t be something that would be praised in the eyes of the angel admitting people to heaven. If anything, this brother spread a web of negativity about him in his life.

Overall

Be something.

Weigh In

Did you choose your profession with an eye to how it would affect other people?

Do you think most people choose professions with thoughts of other people or not?

How it Was Prepared

How it Was PreparedHow it Was Prepared

The fourth mouse said the third mouse was all wrong. There was in fact a way to make soup from a sausage skewer. The fourth mouse did not travel anywhere, she stayed in her own land. She said she could learn just as well in her own country as she could by traveling.

She told the king the way to make soup from a sausage skewer was to bring the water to a boil, throw the sausage skewer in the pot, and then have the king mouse stir it with his tail because stirring it was the secret. Only a king mouse could make soup from a sausage skewer.

The king mouse thought this was just marvelous and said the fourth mouse would be his wife and in fifty years at their jubilee, they would make soup from a sausage skewer. The king and his bride were married. Everyone had their own idea about what should have happened or what they would have said to the king, but none of them said it in the first place.

Observations

Don’t you feel a little cheated?

What the mouse says is soup is not soup. Well, you might get a thin broth from the residue on the sausage skewer, but that’s it. Stick a mouse tail in there and it’s just gross.  Moreover, said mouse would probably end up with a cooked tail. She hasn’t even married him yet and she’s already plotting his murder.

catsThemes

The way I see it, this mouse is a butt kisser. She told the king what he wanted to hear, not what was actually the truth. The third mouse told the king the truth and would have been the best pick for the king, but you know what, the king likes flashy. He wanted the woman who would tell him what he wanted to hear not what he needed to hear. He is going to be living a lie, with some nitwit as his queen. She didn’t even leave the country for her research. “You can find all the best things at home,” or whatever it is she said–please, seriously? What kind of attitude is that? We’re the best no matter what and we have everything here. Nope. It doesn’t work like that. Sometimes you have to leave your homeland to find something else because you can’t get it where you live, plain and simple.

Other people were upset that they hadn’t thought of the easy way first. No one else had thought to be a butt kisser. Don’t be upset about that. Sure this woman/mouse is queen now, but she’s a butt kissing ignorant jerk. You don’t want to be a butt kissing ignorant jerk, even if it does make you queen.

Overall

Look at it this way–a man says he wants a smart, intelligent woman, but then ends up with the skinny blonde, with the fake boobs, who works at Hooters, because she’s a skinny blonde, with fake boobs, who works at Hooters, not because she’s intelligent. A man says one thing and does another, because you know, the flashiness of it.

Weigh In

Who do you think the mouse king should have picked?

Do you think the fourth mouse’s solution was the best?

What the Fourth Mouse, Who Spoke Before the Third, Had to Tell

What the Fourth Mouse, Who Spoke Before the Third, Had to TellWhat the Fourth Mouse, Who Spoke Before the Third, Had to Tell

Just as the third mouse was getting ready to tell her story, the fourth mouse, who had been unseen until this point and assumed dead, rushed into the room. She decided to tell her story.

She came back without her sausage skewer. She had left it in prison. Somehow the little mouse ended up befriending a prisoner in his cell because she had heard he could make soup from a sausage skewer. The man was kind and gave the mouse part of his food. One day he was taken away and the mouse knew not what happened to him.

After the prisoner was gone, the mouse was taken by the jailor who put her in a cage and made her run around and around on a wheel. This she did not like. The granddaughter of the jailor had pity upon the mouse and let her go.

The mouse then took shelter in a watch tower where an owl and a guard lived. The mouse was scared of the owl at first, but the owl did not try to eat the mouse, so the mouse grew confidence in the owl. The owl was very wise and told the mouse that there was no such thing as a real soup made from sausage skewers. It simply meant that each person believed their own way is best and signified nothing really. The mouse was surprised to learn that the whole thing was nothing.

The mouse said truth was valued above all else and her story was the truth. The fourth mouse told her that her truth was false because she really did know how to make soup from a sausage skewer.

Observations

This mouse probably took the most perilous journey of all the mice thus far. She ended up in prison twice–once of her own free will and once as a prisoner. She also escaped being eaten by an owl. Keep in mind she ended up in the same place as the other mice, but took a dangerous road to get there.

telling-the-truth-and-making-someone-cry-is-betterThemes

This mouse found it out. The whole thing simply means that people do things differently, but she also found out other truths. The most important truth being that truth is the best, even if it hurts. She didn’t want to hear that her entire journey had almost been negated because there is no such thing as soup made of a sausage skewer, but she had to hear it. It was the truth and the truth trumps all.

We sometimes do not like to know the truth, but we have to. The truth will set you free–that’s what people always say; that’s what the Bible says. The truth is one thing you can depend on. Fact is truth and truth is fact. If you don’t have something truthful in your life, how are you ever going to get by?

Overall

Just because someone parties along the way, doesn’t mean they’re not getting to where they should be.

Weigh In

Is it ever better to live a lie?

Do you think the mouse was successful in her journey?

What the Second Mouse Had to Tell

What the Second Mouse Had to TellWhat the Second Mouse Had to Tell

It was soon the second mouse’s turn to tell her tale with her tail. She talked of how she had grown up in the library. There, the mice sometimes lacked food, but did not lack for knowledge. They learned many things. When the mouse heard she might have a chance to become queen she asked a wise mouse in the library what to do. She was told to become a poet because poet’s would surely know how to make soup from a sausage skewer.

The mouse soon began on a journey of knowledge. She watched a hill of ants because they are very wise. The ants called their anthill the loftiest thing, but there was a tree nearby that was even loftier. One ant told the rest of the ants that it was not true that their ant hill was the highest thing and nobody believed her. Another ant, much more respected saw the tree and well and told the other ants. She was believed because she was more well-known. The mouse saw that the ant queen had the most knowledge so she gobbled her up.

The mouse then went to speak to the tree, which had a dryad inside of it. The tree told the mouse that a bird came to see it every so often and the mouse determined that it would pluck a feather from the bird and eat it up as well, which she did.

The mouse then returned to the library and ate two whole books and a portion of a third. By that point she considered herself a poet. She could make a string of poetry about anything. The mouse said she could make any poetry for the king about skewers and that was her soup.

It was time for the third mouse’s story.

Observations

There is something of a belief, in some cultures, that if you eat something up, you gain its power. This is true to an extent. If you eat a strawberry, you gain whatever antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrition that strawberry contained, but that’s where the truth ends. You can’t eat a cow and gain the cow’s knowledge of what type of grass tastes the best. The idea that this mouse gained the knowledge it had from an ant, a feather, and three books, is just silly. What this mouse probably got was indigestion.

You cannot eat a person or a creature and gain its knowledge, sorry all you cannibal tribes, that’s just not the way it works.

36c352bda108829db33f0c9032a8d467Themes

Clearly there is some dispute over how to make soup with a sausage skewer. Everyone keeps coming back with their own versions of what this means. This mouse sought out an interesting, but strange path, to understand how to make soup from a sausage skewer.

I am still having a hard time getting over the idea that this mouse thought it could gobble up things to gain knowledge. That’s just not how it works. The previous mouse went on a journey as well, but you didn’t see her eating things to gain their knowledge. This entire story is about differences between people and interpretations, but it’s also about differences in how people get to the same destination in different ways. Both the mice thus far have arrived at a similar determination, but they did so in completely different ways.

Mice are not human, but we’re human, and that’s how we work. You take the high road and I’ll take the low road, you know, all that jazz.

Overall

Oh, you know all the capitals of all the countries, interesting. *sharpens knife and fork*

That’s just gross.

Weigh In

So if you eat a burrito, what kind of knowledge do you gain?

Seriously, how much Alka seltzer did this mouse need?