“The Nightingale” is a fairytale with an unexpected ending. Even though we are used to hearing happy endings, this one is a bit different especially compared to other fairytales by Andersen.
It begins by a China’s emperor hearing about a magnificent bird, a little nightingale with a beautiful voice. The emperor sent his minister to find it and bring it to him. The nightingale’s voice amazes the emperor and he decides to keep it.
When the emperor received a golden bird as a gift he got rid of the nightingale. The emperor got ill and the gold bird was broken so he wanted the nightingale to sing for him.
The nightingale didn’t hold a grudge against the emperor and he didn’t accept to keep on living with him, because more than anything he wanted his freedom, but still he came to visit him.
Once upon a time an emperor lived in China in a magnificent palace. It was build of porcelain so the servants had to maintain it well. The palace was surrounded by a garden filled with flowers and in the end of the garden was a green forest that had lakes who reached all the way to the blue sea. In the forest, a nightingale lived and she looked strange but had a beautiful voice. He was noticed by the fishermen who enjoyed his voice every day.
The empire was visited by other people who admired the palace, the garden, the forest, the lakes and the little nightingale with the most beautiful voice.
In summer an explorer headed for China and he stumbled upon the nightingale who sang without stopping. He enjoyed it so much that he wrote a book about it. He described the bird as the most beautiful animal with the most beautiful voice.
When the emperor had read the book about the nightingale’s voice he told his servant that he wants to hear it sing himself. He ordered him to bring the bird immediately. He didn’t know why he had never heard of the bird about which books were written.
The servant told him that he didn’t know where to find the nightingale. He wandered the palace, the garden and asked the other servants to help him. During his search, he talked to a servant who told him that she knows where he could find the nightingale. She took him to the forest to see the inconspicuous nightingale and the servant heard him sing. He asked him to come and sing for the emperor. The nightingale had accepted and he went to the palace with the servant.
When he arrived at the palace the nightingale noticed the palace’s luxury, the porcelain floors, and walls that shined. He took the bird to the emperor’s chambers. The servant placed the nightingale on a golden stick prepared for the bird and the emperor, with the other servants, waited for the nightingale to sing. When he let his voice out, the emperor began to cry. He was so emotional that he asked the bird to come and live with them. The nightingale accepted without knowing what will happen later on. The other servants were amazed by his voice.
The nightingale stayed in the palace and had his own little cage. Every day he had two walks during the day and one during the night. He wasn’t completely free because he was always escorted by servants. They kept silver bands around his leg so that he wouldn’t fly away. That kind of freedom didn’t suite the nightingale.
The rumors about the nightingale spread across town and even children were named after him.
The nightingale sang for the emperor every day until a rich salesman sent him a golden nightingale decorated with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. The golden nightingale sang like a real bird and never got tired. When the emperor saw his advantages he decided he didn’t need his first nightingale anymore. The little bird was sad because of his decision but was looking forward to coming back to his forest. It made him happy and free which was a big comfort for him. He will be able to sing again and make other animals happy.
A year passed by and the emperor got bored with the same song sung by the golden nightingale. It was a mechanical bird so it was unable to change her tune. After a few days, the golden nightingale got broken. Soon, the emperor got ill and he wanted to hear his nightingale sing again. He looked to the window and saw the little bird. He heard her singing and he got better by the day.
The emperor apologized to the little nightingale and told him that he should have never let him go because he was so much better than the golden nightingale. He asked him to stay in the palace forever but the nightingale didn’t accept because he cherished his freedom more. The nightingale promised to the emperor to come by every day and sing for him. He kept his word and the emperor was happy.
Place: the emperor’s palace in China
Characters: emperor, nightingale, servants
Emperor – he lived in China in his porcelain palace and wanted to own a nightingale who would sing for him every day. He sent him the main servant to find it and bring it to the palace but after a few days he got a golden nightingale and got bored with the first one. When he got ill he wanted to hear his first nightingale sing again because the golden one was broken. The emperor embodied the ungrateful character who in the end of the story doesn’t get what he wanted.
The Nightingale – a small bird who provokes the compassion of the readers because he was banished from the palace. He sang for the emperor and when he got a golden nightingale he just threw him away. The bird forgave the emperor in the end but doesn’t agree to live with him again because he loved his freedom, but he still visited the emperor on daily bases.
Hans Christian Andersen Biography
Hans Christian Andersen was born April 2nd, 1805 in Odense. He was born into a poor family. His father was a shoemaker, and his mother did not have a job. Even though they did not have much Hans was happy for growing up next to a father who recognized his love for adventures and stories. Since he was a boy, his father told him many stories and helped him build a puppet theater.
His life got hard when his father died. His mother had to clean other people’s laundry to provide food, shelter, and clothes for herself and her son. Even though she wanted to send him to a school to study something he wanted to go into a big city and make something out of himself.
He had only 14 years when he came to Copenhagen. He lived in an attic and worked a lot to make it. He even danced for a short time. When he was 17, he decided to go to school, so he sat in school with 12-years old. He even went to a university.
He wrote and studied at the same time. He wrote many fairy tales and “The Ugly Duckling” was considered to contain elements of his life. Some of his other famous fairy tales are: “The little Mermaid”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, “The Snow Queen”…
He died in Copenhagen August 4th, 1875.