Hans Christian Andersen 's ' The Butterfly '

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Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, “The Butterfly” was published near the latter part of his career around 1862. At this point, his fairy tales and stories were no longer intended for children, and although this story could be told to children it has a sophisticated edge and meaning which is clearly intended for an older audience. On the surface this tale, number 111, is the story of a butterfly who wished to be married, but waited too long and ended up alone. It first appears that the point of the tale is a social one which refers to the pressure of society making a single man feel like he should be married. Yet, the interest of this tale is not the mere echo of society’s expectations for a young man, but how Andersen created in two and…show more content…
He believes that the state of being ‘stuck’ must be like marriage. Clearly, this male butterfly could be seen as the symbolic representation of a young man who does not want to settle down, has hyper-critical tendencies, or is just generally shallow like a stereotypical young man sowing his wild oats. It is stated that he wants a sweetheart, but that could just mean that he thinks he should have a girlfriend as a result of society’s pressure for young people to marry. Through his unwillingness or his character flaws, this young man seems to end up a bitter old bachelor consoling himself with the proverbial sour grapes. That overview is just the surface of this tale, and the multiple layers of the story start to come out in the flowers. Andersen had a background in folklore that is undeniable, and some smatterings of that knowledge along with a reference to botany is revealed when he speaks of the various flowers throughout the spring and summer. It begins with the camomile, also spelled chamomile, scientifically known as Anthemis nobilis, but also grouped with the similar plants of the genus Matricaria chamomilla both varieties are common in Eurasia (American Heritage Dictionary “chamomile”). That might not appear to be a crucial part of the tale, but it is probably a piece of information Andersen was familiar with since he referred to the
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