The Little Match Girl- Hans Christian Andersen (1845)


This short story by Danish poet and author, Hans Christian Anderson is one of the most heart wrenching and dark fairy tales in literature.  The holiday season cannot be complete without revisiting this classic fairy tale.

It is the night before New year with people bustling around the streets hastily and snow falling fiercely. A poor girl struggles through the thick layer of snow with bare feet and rags and a bundle of matches she has been trying very hard to sell throughout the day. The story centers around her, a little match seller. In contrast to her pitiable condition, the city is beaming with glittering fairy lights, Christmas trees, well dressed people with gifts wrapped in shiny paper, their ringing laughter and the smell of delicious feasts wafting through the windows of decked up homes.  Afraid to go home without a penny, she huddles up between two houses and lights a match, hoping to warm her fingers in the least.  Her hypothermia reaches a perilous state and she begins to hallucinate. She goes on lighting matches and imagines warm stoves, sumptuous food, and Christmas trees. One of the matches she strikes reveals her grandmother who had passed away. Wanting to keep her beloved grandma from fading away with the grey embers of the dying match, she lights the entire bundle and her grandma takes her fondly into her arms and they are united, away from the cold, pain, hunger and sorrow. It is only when morning comes that people notice the girl who is no more, but with a sweet smile on her pale face.

No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother on New Year ’s Day.”

Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Match-Girl is dreary and grim, even grimmer than the Brothers’ Grimm’s fairy tales. It shares a certain melancholy and talks about the consequences of merely existing.

The power of the mind is a powerful theme in this story. The little girl had a wonderful imagination that guarded her from the harsh reality. She is an example of stark poverty, without anything but not without “hope”, proving that sometimes the greatest lessons are learnt from children.

Anderson came from a poor family and well understood the struggles of the needy that covered the greater part of the society. He paints a dismal, yet vivid picture of life for the poor in the 1840s, when begging was illegal. Writers such as Charles Dickens too had written stories with similar themes with the purpose of bringing social consciousness to people.

The little match girl is a symbol of the countless nameless people who suffer and die in poverty every year but go unnoticed.  It is not only a sad holiday story, but a reality check to all of us to be grateful for all that we have and generous towards those who are in need, not just on festive seasons but throughout the year.  Another beautiful message this story carries is to have child-like hope even in the direst circumstances, because HOPE perseveres.

My rating for this story  – 5/5


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Sam says:

    Your mode and way of expressing your opinion is lovable, but the thing is that, you have mentioned ” the little girl with poverty but not without hope”. She lost hope that is the reason her grandma took her fondly into her arms. In this competitive world one who doesn’t have money is not poor, One who lack hope and self confidence is the real poor
    I humbly request you not to post this kind of stories which brings a sad state of mind and leading to lose hope in life. Instead post stories with good morals and values which inspires many. Am so sorry if you feel m being very gudgemental or dominant. I m extremely sorry to say that I would give rate this story 0/5.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leha says:

      Thanks again for an honest comment. I really appreciate it. The
      world comes with pain, sorrow, as well as happiness. It is wholly up-to us whether to see the glass half empty or half full. The beauty of this story that touched me is her child like faith in her grandma. What most of us miss is the sweet smile she had on her face while breathing her last. Almost everyone of us turn towards negativity when faced with trivial issues in everyday life. Whereas, this little girl with her beautiful imagination was able to picture her dear grandma and smilingly leave this world. When we know the end, there r only two ways to face it, smilingly or in a complaining manner. So why not smile ? Its hard to face the realities of life, but they are part of life to. The only way to overcome something is to accept it first. We all are used to and prefer fairy tales that are all unrealistic and have a “happily ever after” ending. So “The Little Match Girl” is contradictory to our expectations from a fairy tale, but on the other hand it speaks the truth and teaches us a beautiful moral.That is why I like to write about even the grey areas of life and show that we can take something positive out of everything if we are wiling to:)


  2. Sam says:

    Wow, Once again very impressive, I must confess here that most people get into a harsh argument and blame me for my comments but first time m seeing someone who dare to accept even negative comments, hats off you ll definitely reach heights Master. Coming back to the story , The real world is filled with pain and sorrows for many, They get little relief only through kinds of arts. The art whatever is must enthuziase nd give a positive energy. And in this world when very cruels nd devils live why should a kid leave. This is just my opinion nd I whole heartedly accept your point of view too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leha says:

      Yes, it is true that the world needs a lot more positive energy and love. We also need to understand compassion. But I will keep in mind your point too.


  3. Sam says:

    Thank you so much for considering my views, God bless:)

    Liked by 1 person

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