The Hans Christian Andersen Center

Religious motifs : Overview. Search. About religious motifs

Description of this motif:

Humility is in Andersen's writings almost always connected with persons' being world-oriented, thus often also against its creator, God, or being self-centered. Self-satisfied and self-sufficient characters are often exposed in Andersen' oeuvre. Their charateristics are pettiness, intolerance, a narrow mind, insensibility, being ungratified, because the world seems cruel and unjust and doesn't give them enough, and arrogant pride. The proud and self-sufficient persons thinks that all that is good comes from him-/herself. The humble sees the world around her and her own conditions as sent from God. The humble is satisfied with the facts of life and even thanks (God) for everything.

The rose in "The Snail and the Rosebush" is, in contradiction to the snail, a pious grateful and extrovert type, giving its best to the world. "The Snail and the Rosebush" is a textbook example of the motif and is in addition extraordinary, because God isn't mentioned explicitly as the source of the gifts of life.

Example :

At last he reached that great, glorious city called Milan, and here he found a German master who gave him work. The master an his wife, in whose workshop he labored now, were a pious old couple. And they became quite fond of the quiet journeyman, who said little but worked all the harder and led a devout Christian life. And to Knud also it seemed that God had lifted the heavy burden from his heart.

His favorite relaxation was to climb from time to time to the mighty marble church, which seemed to him to have been built of the snow of his native Northland, formed into images, pointed towers, and decorated open halls; from every corner and every niche the white statues smiled down upon him. Above him was the blue sky; below him were the city and the wide-spreading green plains of Lombardy, and toward the north the high mountains capped with perpetual snow. Then he thought of the church at Kjge, with its red ivy-colored walls, but he did not long to go there again. Here, beyond the mountains, he would be buried.

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