Karen Blixen's “Ehrengard” with Andersen's the “Nightingale”

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Karen Blixen's “Ehrengard” and Andersen's the “Nightingale” are intriguing yet controversial texts that share a lot about nature and the artificial world. On the one hand, "The Nightingale"is a fairy allegory that tells of an emperor who preferred a mechanical nightingale to the real bird, for his entertainment while it tinkled (Andersen 5). At first, the Chines emperor listened to a wild bird which sang him a touching lyric and helped improve on his prognosis. Nevertheless, he was presented with an artificial option and the latter sang better without exhaustion, hence he chose to forfeit the former. As the story would later unfold though, the mechanical Nightingale was no better, and the emperor yet again needed the generosity of the natural bird to restore his health while death came beckoning (Andersen 6). Published in 1843, "The Nightingale"was well received as a fairy tale that towered at the time and beyond (Andersen 12). On the other hand, “Ehrengard” by one Isak Dinesen, also known as Karen Blixen, is a detailed yet diverse literary analogy of human life in different facets of livelihood that border both the artificial and the natural world (Bunch 490).  In fact, of the many fairy tales coined by one Karen Blixen, “Ehrengard” is a revered piece of work that has commanded awe across generations and destinations. The role of the heir in a dynasty that thrives on controversy and arguments is what generates the platform of what the author herself calls the "fairy tales with dark shadows"(Bunch 493).  Though not overwhelmed in entirety, the loyalty and dignity of the young Valkyrie in the Ehrengard trigger the awakened nature of the protagonist, hence the conflicts that follow. In essence, Ehrengard gives a clairvoyant, disquieting, and faint humor that portrays the unparalleled originality of Karen Blixen. Therefore, in order to exhaustively compare Karen Blixen's Ehrengard with Andersen's the Nightingale, it is not only critical to highlight the role of nature in both texts but also imperative to explore the use of allegories and how the writers engage in conversation with one another through their similarities and differences.

Andersen's the “Nightingale” is a text whose Plot thrives on multiple themes, one of which is the theme of natural versus artificial.  Indeed, both natural and artificial beauty is at stake in the eyes of the emperor and his handlers.  Furthermore, the outer beauty that is manifested in the symbolism of the Nightingale is a reflection of the twenty-first century and the many artificial ways of livelihoods.  Indeed, the aspect of nature versus artificial seems to be relevant across centuries and remains a logical factor across generations. In essence, the author says that ‘‘for the real nightingale sang in its own natural way, but the artificial bird sang only waltzes'' (Andersen 9).  The controversy becomes a common and unavoidable phenomenon across times though, when the subject of nature is evidenced as a primary reflection in both texts under discussion. For instance, in Andersen's the “Nightingale” those in the court are aligned to the belief that ''with a real nightingale we can never tell what is going to be sung, but with this bird, everything is settled. It can be opened and explained, so that people may understand how the waltzes are formed....'' (Andersen 7). Nevertheless, the artificial bird would soon break and become shuttered, hence getting low in its proficiency to sing and could only deliver once in a whole year. Thereby, the real bird comes to defend the unwavering beauty of nature. The author describes the return of the Nightingale as a generous spirit to save the life of the emperor, because of the ability to mix the fresh and sweet lyrics of the breeze, performs, and grass of the field to scare aware the ghost of death (Andersen 4).  Moreover, the subject of cheating death is evidenced in Andersen's the “Nightingale”. While it remains a reality that finally death would set in, the emperor consistently evades death and his life saved through the singing of the wild bird. The artificial bird fails to perform its duty and would easily risk the life of the emperor, which lives him crying ‘‘Music! Music!... You little precious golden bird, sing, pray sing!''  (Andersen 11). The artificial bird fails bird at the sight of the real Nightingale, the emperor receives healing. Therefore, the aspect of nature towers high in Andersen's the “Nightingale”.

In comparison to the Andersen's the “Nightingale”, the aspect of nature equally cuts across the Karen Blixen's “Ehrengard”, though is a more complex and reflective manner.  The Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard is a compilation of short stories that give diverse and widely paralleled explorations of the author and her audience (Bunch 490).  The complexity of stories and the individual characters in the text are even more compelling to the mind of the reader. On the one hand, while her audience would expressly anticipate a literal and direct approach to the plot of the short stories, to the most part, it is inevitable that new and unprecedented trajectory is embraced by Ehrengard.  Contrary to the Andersen's the “Nightingale”, is more complex and the aspect of nature versus artificial does not express present to the readers. Therefore, unlike for the Andersen's the “Nightingale”, Ehrengard calls for more attention and insight from the audience.  Indeed, in Ehrengard, the reaction of Isak Dinesen in her work borders a psychological and contemporary social realism, such the context of Danish literature is a direct reflection at the time when romance was epic (Bunch 495).  The aspect of nature is especially manifested in the unmatched storytelling skills that the author harbors. Coupled with command and authorial narration, Dinesen is capable of embracing her audience as a reflection of the mirror that she beholds. Nevertheless, unlike for the Andersen's the “Nightingale” whereby the aspect of nature can be visualized in both the past and present world, in Karen Blixen's “Ehrengard” nature seems to have stagnated in a given period in history; hence lacking the dynamic approach.  Indeed, the ethos and pathos of the bygone age are a true reflection of the time between 1770 and 1870, a period that Karen Blixen authors her work (Bunch 493). On the one hand, the aspect of nature is portrayed in subjects like justice, values of life, honor, and aristocratic duties in Karen Blixen's “Ehrengard”. On the other hand, an express approach to the worldview and Christian dualities analogies are rendered null in “Ehrengard”.  Furthermore, the role of the society in its definitive form and well as the specific functions of women in the community are facets through which Karen Blixen's “Ehrengard” exploits the aspect of human nature.  In essence, art is mounted as a central aspect that explains the beauty of human life without controversy and yet leaves all argues bare for subjective discussions (Bunch 505). Therefore, the aspect of nature is addressed in both texts, yet the depth and approach remain diverse as is paralleled by the authors` themes.

Christian Andersen is one of the most famous fairy tale authors who lived in the 19th century. He wrote stories portraying the various factors in the society of that particular time period in an allegorical style. In the Nightingale, for example, he analyzed the relationship between the natural and the machines which were debated a lot during that period of the Second Industrial Revolution (Andersen 13). There are also several instances where he portrayed someone at a relatively lower socioeconomic level, such as the Shadow in the story titled the Shadow, trying to climb up the elite ladder and replace the role of the learned man. Moreover, Andersen also tried to depict the various positions and fates of the artist in the society including himself. For instance, the story of the natural bird in the Nightingale resembles those of artists who failed in their early years but became successful finally.

In other words, though the Nightingale

seems to be a fictional story set to happen in China, which was unfamiliar to most of his readers, it indeed reveals Andersen’s understanding of the real-world relationship between the nature and the man-made and the fate of an artist (the Nightingale) (Andersen 9). This would meet the definition of an allegory where the author uses a usually fictional story to implicitly reveal some deeper understandings or ideas off him or her about the real world. As a result, this paper will be discussing the allegorical nature of Andersen’s story, the Nightingale in particular, in this paper. In other words, the Nightingale implies the relationship between nature and the machines during the Industrial Revolution (Andersen 6). It might also be implying the sabotage efforts by workers to gain an advantage in their bargaining with their employers. Moreover, this story also implies the unrecognized early life of Andersen and other artists. The Nightingale

is allegorical because it discusses the deeper, real-world issues mentioned above.

The story of Nightingale has also been perceived to reflect the sadness in his early life. Andersen’s early life was not so successful just as the natural Nightingale’s. He first began his artistic career by singing at the theatre. Indeed, his singing was good at first, just as how the emperor perceived the natural bird’s singing at first (Andersen 6). However, as he got older, his voice started to change and he could not sing as well. This corresponds to the story of the natural bird where the natural bird was defeated by the more perfect artificial bird. This implies the unsuccessful career of Andersen at his early years. However, the natural bird regained the emperor’s appreciation after the damage of the artificial bird. This corresponds with Andersen’s success in literature in the 1830s (Andersen 11). Indeed, many other artists other than Andersen himself also failed to gain reputation in their early lives. Some even struggled for survival. However, Andersen used this story to support these artists and assure them that despite their struggle in early lives, they could still receive the appreciation they deserved at last as the bird did, as long as their artworks are valuable.

In conclusion, therefore, Dinesen is revered for the Gothic and Fairytales of her time. The prose style she endeavored was poetic and the complex characters she developed were unparalleled among her peers.  The aspects of not only nature and destiny but also religion, aristocrats, religion, and social livelihoods are hereby discussed by the author.  The way in which Africa is painted in her tales speaks of the beauty of nature. Indeed, nature in diverse approaches, not only for the physical world but also for the complex center of human lives which border different religion and traditions. The identity and spirituality of people are embraced in the text. In essence, the ability to be natural and depict the allure of nature is a gifted passion for Karen Blixen in “Ehrengard”. On the other hand, the Nightingale is far from a simple fairy tale happened somewhere exotic. Indeed, it reflects the typical allegorical writing style of Andersen. It discusses real-world issues such as the relationship between nature and machines during the Industrial Revolution. It might also reveal the sabotage by workers to win advantage in labor disputes. Moreover, the natural Nightingale may also represent artists such as Andersen who were not recognized by the public but would become successful artists finally. These deeper meanings are enough for us to acknowledge the allegorical nature of the Nightingale. Therefore, the conversation through the two authors is founded on their similarities and differences in nature and livelihoods across multiple social facets.

Works Cited

Andersen, Hans Christian. “Hans Christian Andersen_ The Nightingale.” PP. 1844: 1–23.

Bunch, Mads. “Ehrengard_article. Kierkegaard and the Secret Note. The University of Copenhagen. Pdf.” 2001: PP. 488–523.

December 12, 2023
Category:

Literature

Number of pages

8

Number of words

1938

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35

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