The Snow Queen

A Queen for the Seasons

Assignment: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson – Everyman’s Library (November 5, 2002)

The Snow Queen as a Ballet:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oA0JWFlOCaw]

Updated, New Animated Version of the Snow Queen:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJrTHEDgHfY]

14 thoughts on “February 5

  1. When I began reading The Snow Queen, I was almost instantly hit with a feeling of Déjà vu: I really felt like I’d heard the story before, but I had no recollection of ever reading it. It wasn’t for another half an hour that I remembered why I knew the story of Kai and Gerda, and troll mirror splinters. As a child, there were countless books on tape that I would listen to, and as it happens, The Snow Queen used to be one of my favorites. I remembered then how I used to confuse the part where Kai, after becoming pessimistic and irritating, is taken by the Snow Queen on her sled, with a similar scene from the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia, when Edmund, who’s also being all angsty and annoying, get’s taken by the White Witch, the self-proclaimed Queen of Narnia, on her sled. Both wintery queens take the young boys to their snow castles, casting them under their chilly spells- if truth be told it wouldn’t surprise me if the White Witch was based on the Snow Queen, as this fairy tale has been retold in countless other pieces of fiction since. Similarly, this story has been retold by illustrators in picture book form many a times, among the most famously fabulously include Vladyslav Yerko.

  2. The Snow Queen was quiet an enjoyable read, heartwarming and so magical it transported me back to my childhood. The language was simple yet beautifully crafted, painting beautiful images throughout that made reading through The Snow Queen a delight that you did not want to end.
    Gerda was a great example of the hero-type character, that is able to win over everyone around her and assist her in her journey. It was definitely interesting to see some of the similarities between some of our previous texts. Oedipus is one such example.
    There’s a part in the Snow Queen where a character brings up that Gerda doesn’t need to have any power bestowed onto her because she already has everything that she needs, and much of it has to do with her innocence and the power inherent within. Oedipus, in the same way, was in the dark for the majority of the play concerning his most tragic flaw.

  3. Lizzie

    As someone who hopes to illustrate Children’s books, I find children’s literature to be very engaging and imaginative. The Snow Queen was no exception. Magic, fantasy, talking animals, and strange creatures filled this text. The world that Gerda and Kay inhabit is a strange place. A place where the robbers live in a castle and the normal people of Finland have no doors. (Not to mention… little girls sleep with knives)…
    It is not quite the fairy tale world that American Children grew up with.

    As for the Snow Queen, she is a character who lacks emotion. The is perhaps because she is ‘Cold as ice’. But although she is the cause for conflict in the story by taking Kay from Gerda and causing her loneliness, the Snow Queen does not strike me as an evil villein. She warms Kay with her bearskin and although her kisses are cold and do not fill him with happiness, I do not get the impression that she is trying to kill him… In the story she is described as, “very beautiful; a more clever, or a more lovely countenance [Kay] could not fancy to himself”. As many kings and queens in society, not much is known about her, or at least, not much is said throughout the story.

    The real meat of the story involves Gerda. Gerda’s long adventure is the one that the reader follows, and it is Gerda who is portrayed as the caring and brave heroine. (Perhaps Gerda acts more like the heroic queen one might expect…)

    I found it interesting that the children’s tale of “The Snow Queen” and the epic poem of the Odyssey had many similarities, and were not all that different. Both characters (Gerda and Odysseus) go through struggles and meet people who help them, or stop them on the way. It is well known that the Odyssey has been borrowed from for many generations, not only because it is a great story, but because people enjoy the same themes they did thousands of years ago.

  4. The snow queen was a rather confusing yet whimsical fairy tale. Some of the words were outlandish to me and I found myself going through a dictionary quite a few times.I loved the atmosphere and lands that Gerda had to go through to save her playfellow, Kay. I loved how the beginning the reader is completely transported to the world of the story book and magic with familiar mythic creatures of the sprites. The magic mirror which caused all the fuss and trouble is clearly representing Satan because Gerda must recite the Lord’s Pray to escape from some of the obstacles. One could only imagine the trouble a person would face is more of a shard of that wicked mirror fell into a person. A person might transform into such a villain.

    The worlds which Gerda travels were trails of character and never losing heart. The old witch in the start of Gerda’s journey reminded me of the Odyssey with the Lotus eaters, sometimes life throws a distraction in front of us as a test for will power to go forward. Once Gerda was able to remember the roses, she remembered the gardens and Kay and headed back on the right path.

    I thought it was rather interesting that the fairy tale was called Snow Queen however, this queen only played as a plot device which was to take away Kay and his cold heart. She was cruel as freezing him to death with kisses. This imagery reminded me of a novel I read called Wicked Lovely which has a world of fairies with different courts of the Summer and Winter. The evil Winter Fairy Queen kissed her son on the cheek causing him to temporally freeze.

    This was a nice change from having a story of magic and a tale of the heart. Sometimes the greatest powers one has is just the power of one’s heart and the courage to go forward in the time of need.

  5. Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen is no doubt in my mind a story of love and friendship. Young Gerda embarks on a magical adventure to search for her best friend Kay. She does not know of his whereabouts, but she soon discovers the bitter Snow Queen has taken him away to her palace and turns his heart to ice. Previously from being lured into the Snow Queen’s trap, young Kay was struck by shards of the Wizard’s horrid magical looking glass that only allowed you to see ugly things. One shard had gone into his eye and one his heart. This made him view the world as an unpleasant place and made his heart cold as ice, turning him from a sweet young boy to a mischievous adolescent over night.
    Rejection of childish sentiment, the belief of having knowledge superior to girls, and finding a fearful interest in the Snow Queen’s female sexuality are all results from the glass. This, in my belief symbolizes the male gender’s maturity into adulthood (basically loosing his pureness). As for Gerda, all she wants is to stay pure. When she believes that the Kay had drowned in the river, she sacrifices her most prized possession, which are her red shoes. When the river returns the shoes to her she realizes that the river has not taken Kay. The return of her “RED” shoes symbolizes sin, the end of childhood and, the onset of her female sexuality, thus throwing them away in an attempt to stay pure.
    When Gerda discovers Kay frozen in the Snow Queens palace, her warm tears melt Kay’s frozen heart. He then begins to cry, clearing the away the shard from his eye. Gerda kisses him a few times and this allows him to become even more healthy, releasing him from the Snow Queen’s grasp. With sparkling eyes and rosy cheeks, Kay is saved by the power Gerda’s love.
    The story is moralistic but truly possesses no morals. The Queen is not defeated, her power still remains intact and there are still shards from the evil mirror floating all over the world thus giving us the conclusion that evil is not defeated by good.

    P.S. I wish I owned a polar bear.

  6. True to form, this tale has its heroic actions and valiant characters, personified mostly in Gerda. Probably the most incredible aspect of hers was her ability to inspire sympathy in others. As far as our own theme of kings and queens, this was certainly lacking.

    Misled by the title, I had assumed the story would offer a distinct version of a queen. Specifically, I had expected the traditional fairy-tale villainess. Overall though, her character was vague and undefined. There was no epic or evil plot, there was no vanity or ego, there were no good or bad intentions spoiled, there was nothing. All you could possibly say about the Snow Queen was that she took what she wanted. Even this is debatable since I happen to think that she did Kai a favor and after all her purpose was never revealed.

  7. The Snow Queen is a completely new tale for me. Growing up I haven’t crossed it once. Though after reading it, the story was very interesting. To me, it was a story of adulthood and the troubles that we all encounter growing up. Life is not as picture perfect as some may say, reason to believe that the mirror is there to expose the truths that lie deep within our human hearts. Human beings as a whole are fickle, and crumble under certain circumstances. In relation to the story, Kai was an innocent by standard. The Queen seemed to have no intention of causing harm to Kai, as seeing how she only kissed him twice knowing the 3rd would lead to his death.

    Gerda, being Kai’s childhood friend and love has no intention of forgetting him. With finding out he may of drowned then having her memories of him taken away, her heart stayed true to finding him. Even with the events that she endured, some would say that nature gave her the signs to help her find her way to Kai’s whereabouts. With the Snow Queen taking Kai, she proved to be no harm to others at all. Her actions were out of her own needs. Even with her “bees” and her kingdom, someone in her position can still find a way to be lonely. It was her loneliness that caused Kai to be torn away from Gerda in the first place.

    This story compared to Odysseus and the Penelopiad follow the same line. The all shine light on the truth to life and the twists and turns we as humans cross though out our life. Even though the story of Odysseus and Penelope relate to the Snow Queen, the difference is that Gerda didn’t run from the “truth” that was place in front of her. Instead she confronted it and was able to come to terms with what had happened.

  8. It is certainly refreshing to be reading more imaginative works of fiction. To be honest I had never really heard of the snow queen until recently due to the talks of animated features being released about the story. I had always assumed that the snow queen was just a general mythological figure used in many stories through out the years, similar to Jack Frost. I had no idea that Hans Christian Anderson had written a rather EXTENSIVE story about the character. Either way, im glad I did read it, though it was not without its problems. I thought it was very interesting in that it was not about a prince rescuing a princess, or even one of the more recent cliches of “the strong and powerful woman going to the rescue of the prince! oho what a twist!”. It was about a girl whose love for a boy ultimately saved him from a life of coldness, and I think thats a realistic premise and something to appreciate. I do wish that more time was spent relating Gerda to the places and people she visited, and giving those places and people more purpose. It seems as if visiting the prince and princess, the robber’s castle, the wide brimmed hatted witch, etc just happened to extend the story. Im not quite sure if Gerda really learned anything along the way from these people.

    In fact im not sure of what the moral to this story is at all. Kai/Kay and Gerda didn’t ever really do anything wrong. They didn’t learn from any mistakes. Nothing even really ends up happening to the Ice Queen either. All that happens is Gerda saves Kai and they realize that they are now a lot older….yay? I guess its just that life long cliche of “love will always prevail”, or something along those lines. Either way, I liked the two protagonists, the descriptive writing, and the mythology and lore surrounding the story. I think I was just mistakenly looking for a more traditional fable like approach to story telling, rather than the HCA way of telling very strange fairy tales.

  9. The Snow Queen is a popular fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson that has been adapted into several television shows, spinoffs, and movies. Despite it’s wide recognition, I was not familiar with the story until reading it this week. As an entirety, it was adventurous and heartwarming, much like something I would have enjoyed reading as a kid or seeing an animated adaption. Anderson had definitely intend this story to be told to a younger audience, especially with the idea that Gerda’s innocence and purity made her heroic in the end. It is definitely an uplifting message for a child to hear and for that I almost wish I had read this story earlier in my life.
    Aside from the devils at the beginning of the story, none of the characters seem to be evil, but rather thrown into bad situations. Kai is a perfect example for after splinters of the devil’s mirror pierce through his eye socket, it’s curse consumes him. This reminded me of Oedipus and his distinct personality change in between Oedipus the King and Oedipus at Colonus. It is all despite the fact that Oedipus wasn’t cast under a spell and that he had grown a sense of pride rather than seeing the world as ugly. Another similarity I found with The Snow Queen and Oedipus is the concept of blindness granting a new outlook on life, which is still interesting irony. I was confused with the Snow Queen’s intentions of abducting Kai and holding him in her castle until Gerda was able to free him from the mirror’s curse. I had assumed she was an entity (hence her appearance where snowflakes cluster the most) attempting to revive him herself, but that isn’t made certain in the story. Again aside from the devils, none of the character have cruel or menacing intentions, which supports Anderson’s aim at a younger audience.

  10. My initial feelings towards the Snow Queen were mixed and sort of confused. Perhaps because i chose to read it on my commute back to Jersey after a long day of classes or perhaps i simply was expecting something different. As I flipped through the initial few pages I though to my self “oh jeez” expecting the rest to drag on in an overly worded story for youngsters, in which majority would not even understand… The story started to grow on me as I read further and payed more attention to the extremely whimsical and precise depictions of every scene. The writing is superb and immediately lands the reader in the space being described. It allowed me to create images of these characters in my head in relation to fantasy movies and other pictorial elements. As far the story is concerned, I struggled to grasp the settings as they flew by page by page as well as the brief introduction to characters like the sorceress with the rose painted hat. I found my self slowing down to absorb all the little details and as the story progressed the themes started to become consistent and familiar allowing the wonderful creative writing to really come alive. I was unaware that this story was written in the late 19th century, as it seemed to be backed by more modern reference. This realization made me appreciate the originality of the story and really solidified my prior hesitant thoughts. Approaching this story as a piece of literature for all ages rather than just a children’s book makes a reader look at it in a different light and may perhaps help create a stronger bond beyond the childlike subject matter and may help one appreciate the artisan behind the writing. In all honesty the story is (in a modern perspective) sort of mundane and predictable, never the less it is easy to identify elements of the human condition within the pages. The story teaches that compassion and ambition towards the ones you love can carry you towards your wildest dreams. All fairy tales aside, the loss of Kay forces Gerda to grow as an individual and rather quickly.The cumulative factor is my favorite part of the story, the recognition of the children becoming adults at the end instills a feeling of “life passing you by” in the reader. Through all the adventures, some joyous and some filled with suffering this story is a fantastical and metaphorical representation of the way we exist throughout a lifetime.

  11. For the record, I want to note that going back to fairy tales and old stories that I devoured as a kid feels comfortable and familiar. Stories such as these always stuck with me in ways that cartoons, movies, or video games ever could. I think that partially has something to do with the imaginative nature of said stories, and the fact that they are meant to be digested by the minds of children. They are palatable and applicable to the struggles a child faces, filled with all the fear and hope and wonder the world still holds through simple eyes. Stories like these feel so homely because by engaging the imagination they become part of us.
    Hans Christian Anderson made these stories for children presumably under the assumption that the stories would aid children, as they grew older. Children, to one degree or another, are meant to inherit the world, similarly to how any king inherits a throne. Following that view, the throne can represent anything in this scenario, so long as it is a position that is passed along. And while many would argue otherwise, I am also under the impression that at the heart of any good man or woman there is a child. Childhood is the root from which humanity stems, and it is all too often that we see adults acting as children. To an extent this is because we can never really outgrow ourselves, and despite the complexities we surround ourselves with (jobs, educations, responsibilities) we still can boil ourselves back to our most impressionable inner beings. Childhood has a tendency to resurface when triggered by sentimental and nostalgic reoccurrences. I feel like people tend to trick themselves into thinking that just because they get bigger and older that they are somehow more adept at handling the world. Sure, they have more experience to draw upon and more tools at their disposal, but the kid still reigns supreme. The kid in everyone guides them. The child that loves airplanes might grow up to be a pilot, the child that fiercely loves his family and friends might become a soldier, the child who struggles to be understood will learn new ways of expressing him/herself. The child defines the adult. Raise children to be caring, kind, understanding, and clever, and you will in turn create a future society where these qualities are admired and passed down. Therein lies the power of children’s literature.

    “The Hindu woman in her long red garment stands on the pile, while the flames surround her and her dead husband. But the woman is only thinking of the living man in the circle round, whose eyes burn with a fiercer fire than that of the flames which consume the body. Do the flames of the heart die in the fire?’ (Tiger Lily’s story, P. 17)
    This is a short story in itself. I love that a few sentences can be so potent.

  12. The Snow Queen was one of the fairy tale stories that was read to me as a child. I had long since forgotten the story and its characters. Reading it a second time not only brings back memories from my childhood, it also has given me a new sense of perspective. Meaning, I’m able to compare it with the other stories that we’ve read so far.

    The characters, Kai and Gerda, are nothing like Odysseus or Penelope from The Penelopiad. In this story, Gerda is really the heroine and Kai is the victim. What I mean by victim is that he falls under the Snow Queen’s spell when she kisses him in her snow carriage. This causes him to forget about Gerda and his family. Gerda loves Kai so much, she goes out to look for him. Penelope never did that in The Penelopiad. I always wondered why, but then I thought, maybe, Penelope didn’t love Odysseus as much Gerda loves Kai.

    I’ve also noticed that the Snow Queen is not quite a villain, even though she does kidnap Kai. She doesn’t have a plan to dominate the world or destroy all of mankind. I see her as flawed person, who is just looking companionship. Manipulating and hypnotizing a young man is not the way to gain companionship. The lady’s just crazy. Anyway, the difference between this story and The Penelopiad is that this is a journey for a girl searching for the boy she loves.

    The Snow Queen is filled with everything a young kid craves for; Adventure, fantasy and a happy ending.

  13. I remember reading the Snow Queen last year and I thought it was a really interesting and wonderful fairy tale. One that has a bit more adventure than I thought it would have. I have always found it interesting when reading these types of tales or myths, how in certain stories the male characters are often taken away (or seduced) by a woman and in the end they somehow find a way to come out of their senses and defeat what had lured them away from their homes. In this case however, I really liked how it was Gerda who went through great lengths to save Kay, and how lucky she was to have been reminded of him when she could have almost remained at sorceress’ home for who knows how long. I’ve also found it interesting how the female characters can be someone who is a hero and also a villain too, which reminds me of my professor last year mentioning how Gerda symbolized purity / virginity against the whole symbolic meaning of the shattered mirror fragments. That really got me thinking about why the role of the “virgin” always (or maybe not) applied to females and how they can be this pure innocent little thing and at the same time are able to be this seductress who knows no bounds, while at the same time the guys are sometimes getting caught in their clutches (like Kay being the only one between him and Gerda that has a piece of the mirror in his eye and how it also reminds me of Odysseus towards the end of this journey home ending up being with Calypso for seven years before he suddenly realizes what he’s done). Overall I really enjoyed this fairy tale and it really has its share on symbolism, adventure and its “lesson learned” at the end.

  14. Lichen
    The Snow Queen feels like a combination of the Odyssey or Penelopiad and Oedipus. It involves being stuck by blindness in the eyes and heart, and the struggle to return home; there is also a chorus of birds and flowers. Gerda and Kay could be Odysseus and Penelope but instead of waiting for Kay, Gerda goes after him. This story completely details Gerda’s adventures but does not address the Snow Queen’s intentions. The story focuses on Gerda’s quest to save Kay from the Snow Queen but the short event that led to her quest was due to a wicked magician’s magic mirror shattering when it was taken too high into the heavens. The mirror is the evil force society has created that causes problems; people see the world through a cruel and pessimistic lens and are cold and unfeeling. Perception is too big of a power to grasp or overcome in order to find goodness and truth. The mirror could be the society’s misplaced values in the Penelopiad. Helen’s beauty is of upmost importance, but because it is difficult to convince people to shift their concerns to something else such as intelligence or sincerity rather than vanity or wealth, this struggle which should be waged against where we place our values is battled out in a war to solve a surface problem that can easily be located and targeted. In the end when Kay and Gerda return home, the Snow Queen is not even killed and the mirror shards still exist in the world. It was a beautiful story but it seemed that the Queen herself wasn’t even that huge of an evil source causing problems for the entire world. Technically, this whole adventure could happen again when the queen steals away another child hit with shards.
    The characters in this story are not defined in positions of good and bad. The first wicked magician is not entirely hated and he also has admirers and followers; there is no indication there is a revolt against him by innocent people. The old enchantress could technically be bad for keeping Gerda but there’s no violence or threat. Even the Snow Queen is not made to be a huge evil figure threatening the world. With previous kings and queens, the first comments that come to mind are whether they were great or villainous. Perhaps this also goes back to how society is so quick to judge others and label them into a single category so everything is neatly organized and defined. By recognizing more sides to something makes people confused and uncomfortable by making everything more difficult.
    The Snow Queen is a story that has been a strange part of my life. I’ve never read the book until now but I remember being a young child and watching this movie and not understanding anything…I never even knew the movie was the snow queen but I think it was. The only image that I vaguely remember until now includes a balcony with pots on top of a roof and it’s a soft orange/brown scene, and being disturbed by a white lady with a little boy. Everything is hazy… Then there’s this dream I had not too long ago where I was a little girl going into an icy blue throne room trying to get a little boy to follow me out…the stairs leading to the throne were rather plain, rectangular, and covered in ice which made it really slippery. Now I realize that I was probably Gerda in the dream. This is very weird for me…

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