Role of the Artist in Society

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Christian Andersen is one of the known fairy tales authors who lived in the 18th century. He wrote stories portraying the various factors in the society with his main focus on the social divide as a result of wealth. There are several instances where he portrays a people in the poverty level trying to climb up the elite ladder. When analyzed, Andersen tries to bring out the various roles of the artist in the society. For instance, his focus on social segregation illuminates the artist's role in the enlightenment of the people on the existing social divides.  He defines the role of the artist to be the use of art as a tool for presenting the various issues in the society. For instance, in his stories, he uses non-human art in the description of various aspects such as religion.

Andersen portrays art to be faced with various pros and cons. For instance, he explains the inability of art to pay an individual’s bills. He goes ahead to explain that for an artist to gain monetary value from their art, he or she should be able to convince the public that the art is indeed worth their money (Christopher 20). This he illustrates that is the common problem that the artists face. Also, for the art to be taken into consideration, one should be able to ascertain that it is indeed worth the time and patronage of the society. He also claims that the failure to do art by an individual who possesses the skills is a waste of their inborn talent. Furthermore, he emphasizes the fact that art should not be done for fame but rather it should be done with passion.


Anderson employs allegory in his text to express the role of the artist in portraying the issues in the society without necessarily using the human character but rather symbols. This he does to ensure that the stories of the artists spark little to no controversies.

One of how he has employed allegory is his focus on roses. He has employed the roses in his work ranging from the titles of his stories to characters in stories such as in the snow queen. Through the utilization of roses, he can bring out various themes in his work. One of the themes he portrays by the use of roses is royalty (Ellen 165). This can be evidenced in the story ‘little Idah’s flowers’ which depicts a girl who dreams about flowers that were attending a ball while having golden crowns. He, therefore, portrays the issue of royalty among the elite group and the gap between the poor and the rich where the poor were left admiring the life of the rich. 

Another instance of the roses is when he describes some flower that portrayed a high sense of pride. This is through the speech put across by the flower depicting that it was way too important to bloom for the poor nightingale and that it sprung from the grave of a known poet. In this case, Andersen is trying to bring about the concept of beauty and how it can lead to pride. He also tries to explain the social segregation between the rich and the poor. This can be evidence in the case where he explains the rose has too much importance to bloom for the poor.

Bread has also been used as a form of allegory. In his poem, he explains the various ways in which Inger in her life had used bread as stepping stone to avoid dirtying her shoes. However, when she is transformed into a sparrow, she tries to redeem herself by feeding the other birds whereas she ate quite little herself (Wenade 35). These instances acted as a form of her repentance, and she finally goes to heaven. From the poem, bread has been used as a way to show care to the others

Another form of allegory is in the case of red shoes in the story titled the ‘red shoes.’ In this case, Andersen reports of a girl who is carried away by her red shoes thus barring her from seeking God’s guidance. Karen, the girl in the story, goes to the extent of leaving her widowed guardian to go party in her red shoes. This shows how much wealth can ruin an individual’s ability to focus on the life goals. The misconduct of Karen due to her red shoes attracts a curse in which she had to dance for eternity in the shoes. She finally had to resort to chopping off her feet to evade the curse. However, the constant existence of the shoes traumatized her a lot. She then repents and goes to heaven after her death. The red shoes are a symbol of the suffering we humans go through when we deviate from religion. They also depict a cause for salvation among most of his characters.

The main theme portrayed in the story is the fact that the willingness to give up all the pride and vanity is the key to receiving salvation. Also, it depicts that it is the attitude and the willingness to do something that sets someone free and one should always try to be selfless in all aspects of life. The shoes in the text represent an individual’s surrounding including the people. The way we treat the surrounding is what matters in life.

Characters. Anderson uses various characters that depict what they symbolize. For instance, Garda in the story of the snow queen depicts a character that is nice and fond of her friend. She even goes ahead to look for Khai when he disappears. This is a close relation to what she symbolizes in the story. She is a symbol of kindness and depicts the existence of kindness in the world regardless of what one goes through. She for instance, still cares for her friend who tore away roses and even embarks on a life-threatening journey to go and fetch him.

Another character who is used in the story to portray what he symbolizes is Khai. We are told of Khai’s transition from the sweet little boy into a heartless boy that destroys his friend’s roses and mimics his grandmother. All this is after the kiss from the snow queen that left him with no conscious. He is a representation of the rottenness in the society depicting how certain occurrences in the society can ruin previously good things. It also indicates that human nature is quite gullible and that any shift in the wellness of the society could cause a major disturbance.

Works Cited

Wenande, Christian (13 December 2012). "Unknown Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale discovered". P35.

Christopher John Murray (13 May 2013). Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era, 1760-1850. Routledge. p. 20

Ellen Datlow; Terri Windling (30 September 2014). Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears. Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy. p. 165

November 24, 2023

Art Literature

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