The Hans Christian Andersen Center

Religious motifs : Overview. Search. About religious motifs

See also Prophet, prophecy


Augury, omen, portent, sign

Description of this motif: Signs, portents and omens are numerous in Andersen's fairy tales and stories. There are two main types of omens: omens evoked by experiments, socalled divination (asking the God(s) by, for example, tossing dice. Cf. Picturebook Without Pictures's First Evening), and omens that come unexpectedly, e.g. in a dream.

Example :

The old councilor, who had received three decorations to keep him quiet, declared that he knew that the jumping goose was gifted with magic power; you could tell by his back if the winter would be severe or mild, and that was more than you could say even for the man who writes the almanac.

Comment on this quote: According to popular belief the winter would be mild, if the goose's breastbone was white, and hard, if it was var brown, cf. Flemming Hovmann in vol. 7 of H.C. Andersens eventyr, Dansk Sprog- og Litteraturselskab / Borgen 1990, p. 105.
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