Brief History: This is not an oral tale passed down from generation to generation then collected by some writer in the 1800s. This was a story created from the mind of Hans Christian Andersen. But despite being original it still is categorized as a fairy tale. It’s possibly one of the longest tales you will find in Andersen’s collection so I will try to keep this brief. The devil shatters a mirror over the earth, a piece of which falls into the eye of Kai, a little boy whose grandmother was constantly telling him and his best friend Gerda about staying away from the Snow Queen. However, with the splinter of mirror in his eye, Kai turns into a little brat and pretty much runs away with the Snow Queen first chance he gets. Gerda goes after him, being the only person in their city who doesn’t think he died. She gets both tricked and helped by a lady of eternal summer, a princess with a boyfriend that looks like Kai, a little robber girl, a reindeer named Bae (Andersen made it cool first), a Lapland woman, a Finnish woman, and a bunch of angels. I told you it’s a long story. When she finds the Snow Queen’s palace, Kai is busy doing a puzzle which he was told would earn him freedom and a pair of skates. Being a little kid with no memory of where he was from, he probably wanted the skates more. Gerda’s tears and love melts the mirror shard in Kai. They solve the puzzle and go home. When they finally make it back to the city, they are all grown up, but still “childlike”.
Analysis: I both loved and hated this story as a kid. All of the adventure through the seasons and Gerda constantly finding ways around the different obstacles made me happy. Then that ending. I could not stand it that the Snow Queen had basically stolen their childhood! As a kid who never wanted to grow up, it made me seriously rethink my plans of going on any sort of a fantasy adventure. And it’s interesting that Andersen would choose this ending as well. From what I understand, Andersen did not get along very well with adults at the best of times. For example, he asked the Swedish opera star, Jenny Lind, to marry him more than once. Lind, who probably found him understandably awkward, declined each time. Some historians think that the “icy hearted” bitch of a Snow Queen was based on Jenny Lind.* But how could that be? Writers never paint negative images of their exes in their stories. Nuh uh. Never ever.
Blame it on the Victorians: This story had a lot of obvious Christian values throughout. Gerda uses her faith to get her through many of the dangers and Kai’s grandmother quotes a Bible verse here or there. Besides that, something interesting about this story is that the children come from a city, not a medieval village or a dark forest. It has a contemporary setting which changes into a fairy tale world. This would have changed the moral uses for it slightly in the eyes of the Victorian readers in the midst of the industrial revolution. Andersen became extremely popular through stories like this. Of course, I also blame the Victorians nostalgia for childhood, yet belief that children should grow up as soon as they could work or marry on the ending.
Last thoughts: No, this isn’t like the Disney movie. Let it go!
*Side note: Lind actually gave a lot of charity concerts before doing nice things just for publicity was a trend, so I'd like to think that she wasn't an icy hearted bitch.
*If you want know any of the places where some of my research comes from, just contact me.