The Brave Tin Soldier – Andersen’s Fairy Tales

The Story of “The Brave Tin Soldier”

“The Brave Tin Soldier” is an Andersen Fairy Tale about the thrilling adventure of a toy soldier with a lacking leg from a production error.

Once upon a time, there were twenty-five brave tin soldiers, all brothers, crafted together from the same old tin spoon. Standing side by side, they carried their arms and stared straight ahead, dressed in a magnificent uniform of red and blue. The words “Tin soldiers!” marked their first introduction to the world, spoken by a gleeful boy as he removed the lid of the box they had been nestled in. These soldiers were bestowed upon him as a birthday gift, and with excitement, he arranged them on the table.

Intriguingly, all the tin soldiers were virtually identical, with the exception of one who stood on just one leg. He was the final creation, and there hadn’t been enough molten tin to complete him. Nevertheless, he managed to stand strong and stable solely on that one leg, making him remarkably distinctive.

This table, now hosting the tin soldiers, was adorned with various other toys, but one in particular stood out: a beautifully intricate paper castle. Glimpses of its interior rooms were visible through tiny windows. Before the castle lay a miniature forest encircling a looking-glass, meant to represent a crystalline lake. Waxen swans gracefully glided on this lake, their reflections mirrored in its surface. The entire scene was enchanting, but the most captivating sight was a delicate paper lady standing at the castle’s open entrance.

She wore an exquisite muslin dress, adorned with a slender blue ribbon draped across her shoulders like a scarf. A sparkling tinsel rose, as large as her entire face, decorated the front of her dress. This lady, a dancer, extended her arms graciously and lifted one leg so high that the one-legged tin soldier could not see it. It led him to believe that she, like himself, had only one leg.

“She is the one for me,” he thought. “But she seems much too grand, residing in her stately castle, while I dwell in a mere box with my five-and-twenty siblings. That is not a suitable place for her. Nonetheless, I must attempt to make her acquaintance.” Concealing himself behind a snuff-box on the table, the courageous tin soldier laid down, allowing him the perfect vantage point to admire the tiny, poised dancer, who balanced gracefully on her one leg without faltering.

As evening arrived, the tin soldiers were tucked away in their box, and the household members retired to bed. It was then that the playthings came to life, partaking in jovial activities such as visiting each other, engaging in pretend battles, and holding grand balls. The tin soldiers stirred restlessly in their confinement, yearning to join the festivities, but unable to pry open the lid. Nearby, nutcrackers hopped in games of leap-frog while a pencil frolicked about the tabletop. Excited chatter filled the air, rousing the slumbering canary who then recited poetic verses. Amidst the frenzy, only the tin soldier and the dancer remained stationary – the dancer with her outstretched legs, poised en pointe; and the soldier, unwavering on his singular leg, his gaze never leaving her.

As the clock struck midnight, a snuff-box sprang open, revealing not snuff, but a mischievous black goblin. The snuff-box was, in truth, a perplexing plaything. Addressing the soldier, the goblin warned, “Tin soldier, do not covet what isn’t yours.”

Pretending not to notice, the soldier remained silent. The goblin snickered, “Very well; wait till tomorrow, then.”

Come morning, the children unwittingly placed the tin soldier by the window. Whether it was the goblin’s mischief or an unforeseen gust of wind, the window flung open, and the soldier plummeted from the third floor, landing headfirst onto the pavement below. His helmet and bayonet wedged between the flagstones, leaving his lone leg pointing skyward.

The maid and a young boy scoured the streets for the fallen soldier, narrowly missing him on several occasions. But his pride, coupled with his allegiance to the uniform, prevented him from calling out for help.

A torrential downpour soon commenced, giving way to gushing waves and rapid waters flowing along the roadside. As the rain subsided, two boys happened upon the soldier and decided he ought to sail in a boat. They crafted a vessel from a newspaper, gently placing the tin soldier inside, and launched it into the makeshift river running down the gutter. The boys raced alongside, cheering and applauding their creation.

In the swirling chaos of the water, the boat tossed and turned violently. The tin soldier, despite his inner turmoil, remained steadfast, his expression unchanging. Taking a deep breath, he looked straight ahead and lifted his musket to his shoulder, ready for whatever lay ahead.

As the boat swiftly glided beneath a bridge, part of a drain system, darkness enveloped the brave tin soldier, reminiscent of the darkness inside his box.

“Where am I headed?” he contemplated. “This must be the black goblin’s doing. If only the little lady were here with me, I wouldn’t mind the darkness.”

Just then, a massive water-rat emerged, a resident of the drain. Demanding to see a passport, it bellowed, “Present it immediately!”

Ignoring the water-rat and gripping his musket even tighter, the tin soldier stayed silent. The boat sailed on as the rat pursued, gnashing its teeth and shouting to the pieces of wood and straw, “Stop him! He hasn’t paid toll or shown his pass!”

But the current grew stronger, and daylight was soon visible where the tunnel ended. A deafening roar was heard, a sound that could frighten even the bravest soul. As the tunnel terminated, the drain cascaded into a large canal through a steep drop – a perilous waterfall.

Unable to stop in time, the boat raced forward, and the tin soldier stood unflinching to demonstrate his courage. Spinning three or four times, the boat filled with water to the brim; it was certain to sink. The tin soldier found himself submerged up to his neck, as the boat’s paper material softened and crumbled in the water. At last, the water roared over his head.

With his thoughts on the delicate dancer he would never see again, the lyrics of an old song echoed in his mind:

“The end is near, I fear my fate,
But my courage will not abate.”

The paper boat disintegrated, and the soldier sank into the depths, only to be swiftly consumed by a gigantic fish.

Within the fish, the darkness was even more overwhelming than in the tunnel, and the space much narrower. Yet the tin soldier remained steadfast, lying full length, musket at the ready.

The fish had carried the brave tin soldier on a long and perilous journey, but eventually he came to a stop. Suddenly, a flash of lightning seemed to pass through him, and then daylight approached. A voice cried out, “I declare here is the tin soldier.” The fish had been caught, taken to the market and sold to the cook, who took him into the kitchen and cut him open with a large knife.

She picked up the soldier and held him by the waist between her finger and thumb, and carried him into the room. Everyone in the room was anxious to see this wonderful soldier who had travelled about inside a fish. They placed him on the table and, to the tin soldier’s amazement, he found himself in the very same room from the window of which he had fallen. There were the same children, the same playthings, standing on the table, and the pretty castle with the elegant little dancer at the door. She still balanced herself on one leg, and held up the other, so she was as firm as himself.

It touched the tin soldier so much to see her that he almost wept tin tears, but he kept them back. He only looked at her, and they both remained silent.

After a while, one of the little boys took up the tin soldier and threw him into the stove for no reason therefore it must have been the fault of the black goblin who lived in the snuff-box.

The flames lit up the tin soldier, and the heat was terrible. He could see that the bright colors had faded from his uniform, but whether they had been washed off during his journey or from the effects of his sorrow, no one could say. He looked at the little lady, and she looked at him. He felt himself melting away, but he still remained firm with his gun on his shoulder.

Suddenly the door of the room flew open and the draught of air caught up the little dancer. She fluttered like a sylph right into the stove by the side of the tin soldier and was instantly in flames and was gone. The tin soldier melted down into a lump, and the next morning, when the maid servant took the ashes out of the stove, she found him in the shape of a little tin heart. But of the little dancer, nothing remained but the tinsel rose, which was burnt black as a cinder. And so the brave tin soldier and the little dancer were gone forever, but their love and bravery would always be remembered.

The Story of “The Brave Tin Soldier”
– Andersen’s Fairy Tales –

The Moral Lesson of “The Brave Tin Soldier”

The story of “The Brave Tin Soldier” contains several moral lessons that are applicable to both children and adults, such as:

1. The Importance of Courage and Perseverance

The story highlights the importance of courage and perseverance. Despite having one leg and facing numerous obstacles, the tin soldier refuses to give up and remains devoted to his love for the ballerina. Rather than just complaining about life’s misfortunes, we should have the courage to face them with dignity. After the storm passes, happiness can be found. This is a reminder to always remain determined and focused on our goals, even in the face of adversity.

2. The Fragility of Life and the Inevitability of Fate

The story emphasizes the fragility of life and the inevitability of fate. Despite the tin soldier’s bravery and devotion, he ultimately meets a tragic end, reminding us that we should cherish and make the most of the time we have with our loved ones.

3. Beware of Vanity and Pride

The tale cautions against vanity and pride. Unlike the other toys, who constantly argue and boast about their importance, the tin soldier remains humble and modest throughout his journey. This teaches us to remain humble and not let our accomplishments or possessions get to our heads.

4. The Power of Love

The tin soldier’s love for the ballerina inspires him throughout the story, even in the face of danger and uncertainty. His devotion to her ultimately leads to his tragic end, but it also infuses his life with significance and purpose. The story can be interpreted as a celebration of the power of love to motivate and sustain us.

One could say, “The Brave Tin Soldier” encourages readers to stay determined in their pursuits, value the time they spend with loved ones, and remain grounded and humble in their achievements.

These are just a few potential interpretations of the moral lessons in “The Brave Tin Soldier.” As with any good story, it can be read and understood in various ways depending on the reader’s perspective and experiences.

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