‘The Little Match Girl’ is a beautiful story of comfort and memories and a tragic tale of a poor and forsaken child. In this lesson, you’ll learn more about the story behind one little match girl.
Think about a time when you were really happy. What do you see? Is it a memory of a particular moment? A certain place that brings you joy? A gift you received? A beloved family member?Memories provide comfort or a happy place that we can refer back to in our minds. Your happiest memory may be of a holiday, with all of your family sitting around a dinner table. It could be that time that you met your significant other, or a special vacation. Whatever it is, good memories of times past make us happy, contented, and grateful.The concept of memories is a central theme in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Little Match Girl.
Fairy tales usually include some type of fantastical or magical elements and are written for children, though plenty of adults certainly enjoy them, too. This particular fairy tale is beautiful because of the memories it creates, but it’s also sad because of its tragic circumstances.Let’s take a look at the magical story behind this particular little girl.
Summarizing The Little Match Girl
It’s New Year’s Eve, and like most New Year’s Eves, it is cold, the wind swirling, and the snow is coming down. Most people are scurrying home to enjoy the evening with family or headed out to lavish celebrations. Walking amongst them is a lovely young girl with curls in her hair. This child is different, however.
She has nothing warm on her head, and the shoes she was sent out in, the shoes that belonged to her mother and were too big, have already been lost. In the cold of a late December evening, this child is barefoot on the street.In an attempt to find a spot of warmth, the girl huddles in a corner between two houses.
Why doesn’t she just return home, you might ask? Unfortunately, her home does not bring her comfort. She has a father who is abusive, and returning home without selling any of the matches she’s been carrying will surely mean a beating. She hasn’t earned a single farthing, which would’ve represented one-quarter of one penny years ago.Instead, the girl sits outside in the corner between the two houses when, suddenly, she has an idea.
She can burn one of the matches and get a little warmth. She strikes a single match and in the glow of the flame, she envisions a large stove, big enough to warm herself in front of. But, just as quickly as the image appears, it disappears when the match burns out.Eager to see more, the girl lights a second match. This time she envisions a lavish dinner table complete with a giant goose. In her imagination, the goose actually jumps off the table and begins dancing. But, again, when the flame goes out, the images are gone.
A third match is struck and now she sees a glorious Christmas tree, complete with thousands of lights and ornaments. As she reaches to touch the tree, the flame of the match disappears and so does the tree.The little match girl lights a fourth match and oh, the memories! She is seeing an image of her loving grandmother, long deceased, but the only person who truly loved the little girl.
She begs the grandmother to carry her away with her. She is afraid that the memory of the old woman will vanish when the match burns out. Instead of letting that happen, she strikes all of her remaining matches, so she will not lose the image of her beloved grandmother.Once the light from the big bundle of matches is illuminated, the grandmother reaches down to pick up the girl and takes her along to Heaven. The little girl’s frozen body is found in the same spot near that corner of the two houses the following morning.
She has a smile on her face, from the memories and things she has seen.
The idea of memories and happy thoughts comforting us when we’re in a dark place is the central idea of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, The Little Match Girl.’ As the girl, cold, shoeless, and alone on New Year’s Eve, attempts to sell bundles of matches to earn a farthing to take home, she huddles down in a corner to seek some warmth. She cannot return home because her father is an abusive man.Instead, the girl begins lighting matches, one at a time, for a bit of warmth. In each flame, she sees a beautiful vision: a large stove where she can warm herself, a lavish table set with plenty of food, even a giant Christmas tree.
With her fourth match, she sees a memory of her grandmother. Not wanting that image to fade, she strikes the rest of her matches and her grandmother carries the little match girl away with her to Heaven. Her frozen body, with a smile upon her face, is found the next morning.