The Way a Sad Story Can Be the Most Instructive

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The little match girl by Hans Christian Andersen is one of my favorite literature that I have read so far since I was in High School. It is a beautiful and at the same time a sad story. It is all about the poverty, hunger and helplessness of a little girl who is sent to sell matches when she is supposed to stay at home or at school. This may be significant as the Little Match girl on her journeys sees how other people live and it is in contrast to her own way of living just like many children across the street begging, they do not have a proper clothes, can’t eat three times a day and can’t study because of the poverty. Who should put this all in blame? Are their parents or the government? The parents is the one responsible for their children’s guidance, growth and development. The part of ‘When she left home she had slippers on, it is true; but what was the good of that? They were very large slippers, which her mother had hit her to worn; so large were they;’ seems that she has nothing even her own pair of slippers. It’s so big and lost it as she walked through. This reflects that poverty makes some of the children suffer. The parents are the one who supposed to work hard and earn for their daily livings and in order to do that, the government should support this family. There’s no children should not put up with this kind of situation but should give an attention rather. I can’t imagine sending your child out into the cold to beg in the hopes that she can bring in enough money to support the family.

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As I dig deeper to the story, everyone is celebrating the New Year’s Eve, the girl is longing for the happiness. The readers may be trapped in the thoughts whether it’s the family’s completely lack of financial support or father’s cruelty to her daughter or maybe both. Well it is obviously both. The poor girl had nothing in her life but herself. All the visions she had in the light of the matches only mirrored her unfulfilled wishes and dreams. She also wished to enjoy some delicious food, to sit under a beautiful Christmas tree, to wear some new bought clothes, and to have the company of her dear old grandmother. But it was not to be in her own reality in life. She could only get those after her death where is in the Heaven. That is why the writer says — ‘But no one knew what beautiful visions she had seen and in what a blaze of glory she had entered with her dear old grandmother into the heavenly joy and gladness of a new year.’ The New Year’s eve represents the new beginning of her life in every people. A new beginning which we traditionally plan ourselves to change the bad habits we did the last year and plans to change it as the new year approached, but to her, it is the new beginning by the means after death or entering the heaven where there is eternal peace and love. The new year had marked glorious changes to the girl’s life which other people could not able to see what kind of situation she have been through. Reading this story makes me sad knowing that everyone in Christmas eve were celebrating with their love ones while the poor girl is out along the street suffering with hunger, coldness, pain and loneliness. As a child, she deserves nothing but best just like the other children celebrating with their family and all.

The story title ‘The Little Match Girl’ is very direct forward and illustrates the subject of the story, the poor little girl. The title is perfectly suitable because of the story deals with the poor girl’s miserable existence, not granted aspirations and wishes, and how she got rid of this world’s cruelty to reach heaven. The character of the story dies at the end however if we look for the positive side, Hans Andersen wants us to appreciate the perseverance of hope which have showed us through the line of ‘The girl is cold, barefoot, and poor, without a friend in the world—but she is not without hope.’ Nevertheless, the harsh realities of hardship haunt the truth of the little girl — she has to sell a match for fear of being beaten by her father when she returns home, and this fear helps push her to stay outside the night, which eventually leads to her death. However, what is also interesting about the story is that the Little Match girl never felt sorry for herself for having that kind of life. The poor girl knows that she has a job to do and regardless of the weather she will do it. We can apply this part of the story in the life of some people as they mirrored this up to now.

Moreover, there is no happy ending for Andersen’s little match girl yet Hans Andersen appear to have wished to highlight the circumstances of the poor and the needy, to his middle class readers for them to be aware because they may be capable of helping some people like this. As today’s reality, many of this middle class are do not care in other people’s situation. They only think for their selves happiness and wealth. And of course, Andersen often focuses on lonely and isolated little poor girl. Besides of that, the author wants us to tell what kind of so-called civilize society where even today we don’t have the eyes to see through the suffering of thousands of such starving faces in our towns and cities. This short story, therefore, includes or represents all generations and ideologies in its message. Even the girl is unnamed; the story’s location and year are unspecified. These could be the writer’s intentional attempt to keep the story in its generalize appeal. The story has a simple approach with its plot and setting. The author narrates the story in a third person narrative where dialogs are rather too little. It has been a one-way narration with no flashbacks and no twists, but the story is rich in its use of irony, imagery and symbols, indicate the need for empathy and understanding for those who are less income and successful than us.

So for the almost end of the story, unfortunately the action of striking the bundle of matches is the last action that the Little Match girl had to make. After that she dies and her imagination took her into the hands of her grandmother. This too might be significant as it highlights the belief that the poor girl has in her faith. She knows that everything will be okay. She has that much hope despite of what she have experienced. ‘The Little Match Girl’ serves us a great purposee like some story does in a way to teach the children important lessons about the tougher topics in life like death and loss as well as social issues like poverty and all. We may not want to think about the terrible things that happen every day, and it is definitely difficult to explain stuffs like that to the children. It seems, though, that we can always learn from the kids the greatest lessons like on how they adopt to the problem with the most hopeless situations. And of course more importantly the parents are the one responsible to give their children’s life they deserves, not the same as the stories have told.

On this story, the matches can be conclude as a symbol of hope because every time she strikes that matches or the bundle, her mood changes immediately into full of hopes on seeing how others live their lives and perhaps, experience the hopes to live her life as they have. The hopes from striking every bundle of the matches takes her away from the cruelties and suffering of her life. And also, the same as the matches, her grandmother also symbolizes of hope for the poor girl because she was the one who took the child (spiritually) from her miserable life into the place where there is ever lasting joy, peace and love. A woman that Little Match girl greatly respects and admires. When the girl’s grandmother appears the reader realizes that the poor little girl is meeting her in heaven. For modern audiences this is tragic; but because of this misery, this maybe was the best thing that could happen to her. She may not have led a peaceful life while alive but in death there is no doubt that the Little Match girl will be happy because she is no longer within her father’s reach and away from his bullying. 

The real loser in the story is not obviously the Little Match girl but her father. For a particular selfish reason or whatever it is, he sent the Little Match girl, her own daughter out to work in bad weather when everyone else was celebrating New Year’s Eve. Since there’s no indicated reason why her father treated her that way, we can assume for some possible reason like maybe she is not their real daughter or maybe she is the reason why her grandmother passed away or whatever it is. Hans Andersen have also showed us what kind of people they have in the town. Because base on my further research, that era before in Europe had theirs laws about preventing slavery that’s children from poor families were commonly worked seven days a week and it is illegal to beg on the streets that is why the children try to look like selling something but just definitely hoping for donations or simply as a props for begging. So lets think the possibility that, if these people in the town who passed through the poor girl and bought every matches she sell, ofcourse she may be alive. She is invisible to all passersby and helpless against the cold snowy weather. 

So in real life, how do we respond when you see people begging on the street? Do they tug at your heartstrings? Or do you view their way of asking for money with disapproval? It is likely that the many people who saw this little beggar disapproved of her without understanding her circumstances. You can see base on through her that this little match girl is unloved, abused, and shoeless but it doesn’t get any more pathetic than a hungry, cold, lonely, little girl who’s afraid to go home without selling her matches in hand for a reason that her father will get angry. Yet, no one helps her. That is why this story makes the reader think twice about passing someone in need without offering help. But also the author wants us to understand how can be other people contributes to our lives. Can be a good or a bad thing will always count. Helping is a way of showing how you care for others and also sharing your blessings, not in way that you do it only for your self image. Helping may not give us directly the possible impact for that particular person but

There be seem to be two main interpretations of this ending, like the children may have a full imagination and are capable of enduring severe hardship with a positive attitude and also a bad example of a human being because she just gives up on life. The readers is on up to their conclusion base on what message they have picked up to this sad and at the same time a beautiful story that may touches every readers heart and soul. Or can be a key to change their bad perception to others and may start treating others as their family. This story may surely give a big impact to all the reader as they read this and appreciate will all the bottom of their hearts.

29 April 2022

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