Religious motifs : Overview. Search. About religious motifs

See also Belief in reunion with the dead, Intermediate state, Resurrection, The concept of the soul's account of good and evil being settled after death, Transformation


Death, faith, bliss, life, soul, mercy, angel

Example :

And still it had the true jewel! That eternal longing and desire to go upward, ever upward, was the jewel, and it shone within the little Toad, shone with gladness, shone brightly.

At that very moment the Stork came. He had seen the Toad in the grass, and now he swooped down and, not very gently, siezed the little creature. His bill pinched, and the wind whistled; this was anything but comfortable. But still the Toad was going upward, and off to Egypt, it knew; therefore its eyes brightened until it seemed as if a spark shot out from them.

"Croak! Oh!"

The body was dead; the little Toad had been killed. But the spark from its eyes – what became of that?

The sunbeam caught it up and bore away the jewel from the head of the Toad. Where?

You should not ask the Naturalist; rather ask the Poet. He'll tell it to you as a fairy tale; and the Caterpillar will be in it, and the Stork family will have a part in it. Just think – the Caterpillar will be changed into a beautiful butterfly. The Stork family will fly over mountains and seas to faraway Africa and yet find the shortest way home again to the land of Denmark, to the same village, to the same roof! Yes, it's all almost too much like a fairy tale, and still it is true! You may well ask the Naturalist about that; he'll have to admit it; and yet you know it yourself, for you've witnessed it.

But the jewel in the head of the Toad? Look for it in the sun; look at it if you can.

The brightness is too great. We have not yet eyes that can look directly at all the glories God has created, but someday we shall have them, and that will be the most beautiful fairy tale of all, for we ourselves shall have a part in it.

Comment on this quote: The toad, that hides the most wonderful thing inside its head, is a character, that reminds of the ugly duckling, presenting the force and importance of our inner nature, that will concur all obstacles. Niels Kofoed has pointed this similarity out in Studier i H.C. Andersens fortællekunst (Studies in the narrative art of HCA), 1967. It is a crucial difference, that the toad's final rising takes place in death, and this motif (transformation) makes the tale more closely related to The Little Mermaid, The Old Oak Tree's Last Dream and The Ice Maiden. Cf. also The Marsh King's Daughter, in which The marsh king's daughter is a toad at day and human at night, and The Stone of the Wise Man. There is an emphasis on the desire for travel and in the description of the toad, opposed to its fellow toads and other creatures of the tale, which is noticeable. It is in thread with Andersen's reflections of travelling found in his travel books and autobiographies. To travel is to live, but in first chapter of Rambles' (1831) it is said, that it is also to die; everything travels, i.e. changes, and death is the last journey, out of this world and into another or other worlds. Also compare with The Galoshes of Fortune, the magic transporting devices, that can take you across time and space – they bring the theolog to death, the happiest thing that might happen to him. In many other tales death is a happy event, cf. among others The Last Pearl, The Comet, The Ice Maiden, The Little Match Girl, The Child in the Grave.