Grim(m) Stories: The Ugly Duckling – Bullying, Hans Ch. Andersen style

I wanted to go for Hans Christian Andersen again and I thought about the Little Match-Seller but then decided that story is far too sad for my taste.

So, I went through the list and found the Ugly Duckling! Never knew that was an Andersen one, but there you go.

In a lovely summer, a duck has seven eggs. One by one, the first six ducklings hatch. They are amazed by how large the world is now that they are out of the egg.

The mother is all, “Yeah, wait until you see the garden!” Then she looks around and finds that the largest egg, the seventh, is still intact and she goes back to sitting on the nest, though she’s already rather tired of it.

The duck gets visited by another, older duck, who claims that the larger egg is a turkey egg and that the mother should just abandon it.

Yet the mother won’t do so and waits for the egg to hatch.

At last, it does break, and out comes a large and ugly duckling. The mother wonders if it is, in fact, a turkey.
The next day, though, they go to the lake to swim and she finds that the ugly duckling does swim quite well, so she figures he can’t be a turkey.

She leads them through the water and warns them of the cat. Then, they meet the ‘old duck yonder’. It’s a duck of Spanish blood, you see, so – I don’t know anything about ducks and I don’t understand much, but meh.

One of the other ducks finds the ugly duckling – well – ugly, so she decides that she doesn’t want it there and bites the poor thing in the neck. The mother is quick to jump to his defence, and refuses to get rid of the ugly duckling.

Still, all the others (even the turkey) pick on him and make fun of him, so the ugly duckling turns very sad, because he’s – well – ugly.

This is a tale of bullying, guys.

Poor, ugly duckling even gets bullied by his brothers and sisters who say that they wish the cat would get him. Even the mother has by now changed her mind and says she’d rather he had never been born.

Honestly, why do all fairy tale parents suck, huh? I didn’t want a sad tale, but guys, this is sad. This is very, very sad.

The ugly duckling runs away and finds a few wild ducks who at least let him be, though they say he is too ugly to marry one of them. Then, two geese appear and offer him to accompany them to another moor where ducks live that like ugly ducks? Something like that.

Unfortunately, the geese are shot right then and there by sportsmen. Hans, seriously. This is almost as bad as Bambi.

Anyway, he gets almost eaten by a dog but the even the dog thinks him too ugly to bite.

After that danger has passed, the ugly duckling runs away over the fields as a storm rises. Just so, he manages to enter a cottage, where a woman, a tomcat and a hen live. Luckily, it’s no-birds-eating cat, due to the hen or something along those lines.

The woman takes him in, but the hen and the tomcat are rather mean. At least, they don’t make fun of him for being ugly, but for not being able to purr and lay eggs. Like – hello? He’s not a cat, and also he’s a “he”, so he can’t possibly lay eggs. But that might just be the conclusion of the fairy tale, if I remember rightly. Sorry, #spoilers.

The duckling wants to return to a lake to swim, though, because he misses the water. The hen thinks him quite crazy but lets him leave. He sees some swans as he returns to the waters. He envies them and also feels drawn to them. Hans, I’ll give you a plus-point for foreshadowing.

Winter comes and the water freezes while the ugly duckling is still swimming around. Stupid git hasn’t managed to get out of the water.
A peasant rescues him and takes him home. There, he causes some mayhem, though, because he doesn’t particularly like the children playing with him. So, he accidently knocks the milk and butter over and finally flees.

After a long, hard winter, the ugly duckling finds that he can fly. He finally joins the swans, ready for them to kill him (because he’s – well – ugly). BUT THEN. He sees his image mirrored in the water and finds that he’s grown to be a swan! There you are. He’s really, really beautiful now. The swans greet him happily and a few children arrive, claiming that he is the most beautiful of them all.

And therefore, the former-ugly-duckling-now-a-beautiful-swan is very happy.

In your face, mean ducks!

You can read the original version of the tale by Hans Christian Andersen here.

If you have any fairy tale that you would like to see recapped, please feel free to comment and I’ll work on it :)
Have yourself a lovely day.


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