Ah, the plight of poor little Thumbelina…everyone wanted to marry her… must be just awful.
Once upon a time there was a couple who dearly wanted a child. The woman went to a fairy and the fairy told her that was easy enough. The fairy gave the woman a flower and told her to plant it in a pot, it was a barley-corn. The woman planted the plant and out grew a beautiful flower which looked like a tulip. The flower opened and inside was a little tiny woman. This little tiny woman was called Little Tiny or Thumbelina. Her mother cared for her and made her a large pond to play in on the table. She slept in a walnut-shell and never got much more than an inch high.
One day a frog was hopping by and saw Thumbelina asleep in her walnut-shell. She thought to herself that Thembelina would make a good wife for her son. She took Thumbelina far away to her home. There she imprisoned Thumbelina on a lily pad. Thumbelina could not go anywhere. The son never said much of anything, but the mother frog went ahead and prepared for the wedding. Thumbelina did not want to marry the ugly frog. The fish in the water heard her crying and knew what it was about. The fish ate through the lily pad stem and sent her lily pad down the stream.
While she was on the lily pad a cockchafer stoke her; it’s a bug. The bug flew with her to the other bugs. They did not think she was pretty at all. The original bug changed his mind. He at first had thought Thumbelina was pretty neat, but soon grew tired of her. The bug eventually turned her out of the bug colony. Thumbelina then had to provide for herself. She drank honey from flowers and dew from leaves. When it came to be cold she did not know what to do.
She knocked on the door of a field mouse. The mouse had pity upon her and took her in. The mouse said she could stay the winter as long as she kept up the house. Soon Thumbelina was introduced to the neighbor of the mouse, a mole. The mole soon became enamored with Thumbelina and wanted to marry her. The mouse thought it was just a great idea. The mole built a tunnel for only Thumbelina to walk in. She often did so. In one end there was a dead sparrow, or so it seemed it was dead.
Thumbelina felt sorry for the dead bird, so she wove a cloth for it. She discovered that a heart still beat within the bird. She nursed the bird back to health and it left when the weather warmed up. The sparrow asked Thumbelina to leave with him, but Thumbelina thought it would not be nice after all the mouse had done for her. Preparations for the wedding continued. The more things moved forward the more Thumbelina did not want to marry the mole. Thumbelina cried out one day and there was the sparrow. He told Thumbelina he could take her away. She hopped on his back and did not look back.
He put her down amidst white flowers. He told her she would have to pick one of the flowers for a home. She was surprised to find a tiny man in one of the flowers. The little man, who was a king, asked Thumbelina to be his wife and live in his flower with him. She said yes. She was given a pair of butterfly wings and flew from flower to flower.
I feel bad for people in these stories. This couple probably wanted children really badly, but were not able to have any of their own. They would have taken a child, any child, as their own.
People cannot be that tiny, ever. The smallest people are primordial dwarfs. They have relatively proportionate bodies as far as someone with dwarfism goes, but they are incredibly tiny, often only weighing twenty-something pounds full-grown. People who suffer from Primordial dwarfism are still a heck of a lot bigger than Thumbelina as described.
A cockchafer is a type of bug. I’ve never heard of it either. It’s basically a big beetle that lives in Europe, probably much like the American June Bugs that swarm places in the summer time. Hey, if you think June Bugs are big, you should see some of the beetles in Okinawa! Gigantic!
This story is a question of beauty. Sure Thumbelina nursed the sparrow back to health, but she didn’t do a heck of a lot else. She’s not a very multidimensional character. It’s a short story and a fairy tale at that so it can be a bit difficult to make a character multidimensional. Thumbelina’s main attribute is her beauty. Everyone wants to marry her. The frog wants to marry her. The mole wants to marry her. The only person who doesn’t want to marry her is the beetle, but at first, he was interested. He changed his mind due to peer pressure from his group of beetles. They didn’t think Thumbelina was so hot, so he dumped her in a daisy.
Beauty is something that is in the eye of the beholder, but it can also be influenced by society. There is a people who lives in Asia that thinks having a long neck is really beautiful. The girls get metal rings put around their necks beginning at a very young age. Some of the oldest women have many, many rings around their necks and do appear to have longer necks than usual, which they do, but it’s more because their shoulders have been pushed down rather than their necks getting longer.
The frog thought Thumbelina was hot stuff. The mole thought Thumbelina was hot stuff, actually, here’s the thing, the mole was blind. He couldn’t see Thumbelina. He had absolutely no idea what she looked like. He fell in love with her entirely because of her personality. She sang to him, told him stories, and talked with him.
The beetle liked Thumbelina until his friends didn’t.
The only person Thumbelina ever seriously considered marrying is the fairy king she finds. She thinks he’s beautiful and she does not hesitate to marry him.
Here is our conclusion, Thumbelina is shallow. It’s a sad point, but it’s a point. While is is true that no one wants to marry a frog, I grant Thumbelina a pass on that one, the mole wasn’t such a bad guy. Sure, he was a little gruff, he didn’t like the sunshine and stuff like that, but he wasn’t such a bad guy. He dug an entire tunnel for Thumbelina. He loved her for her personality. He wanted to give her everything in his world. He spent months talking to her and wooing her.
The fairy king was just like, “Hey, I’m hot, let’s get married.”
She seriously didn’t ask any questions of this fairy king person. Do all the other flowers have women in them that he diddles? How about fairy STDs? How about illegitimate fairy children? How about drug usage? Does he snort the pollen?
The fairy king and Thumbelina are alike in physical characteristics. They’re both described as being beautiful. They’re similar in that way and could probably actually have offspring, whereas Thumbelina and a mole wouldn’t have worked out so well; I grant them that. We can’t go around dating horses and stuff. We have to go out with people. I don’t care what sex that person is, you still have to go out with an actual person. If we’re looking at this whole thing from a biological sense Thumbelina’s choice makes a lot of sense.
…but, if we throw biological logic out the window, as most fairy tales do, she didn’t make the best choice. Sure, this guy is beautiful, but what else does he do? Does he appreciate you? Does he love you? Does he want to be the best for you? Can you two talk about things? Thumbelina was shallow in her treatment of the mole, but he was crazy about her. He loved her. He wanted to give her the entire world.
If the mole, the frog, and the beetle are metaphors instead of actual tiny creatures, then we’ve got a guy who acts like a frog and isn’t very good-looking, a blind man who also probably isn’t good-looking, but is not a bad guy, and a beetle who looks like everyone else he knows, but takes his family’s opinion seriously. Look, we all know guys who are not good-looking and act like jerks. We know guys who are not good-looking and act like the most wonderful men you could ever imagine. We know good-looking guys who act like jerks. We know good-looking guys who act like angels. Supposedly, this fairy king is your win-win. He’s good-looking and maybe also good, but maybe he’s not good, we don’t get that part of the story.
Think of the mole as your Bill Gates. Bill Gates isn’t a good-looking man, but he has money and he seems like an ok guy. He gives money to all kinds of charities and seems to be fairly intelligent. Would you go out with Bill Gates, if he were single? You would have to weigh whether you could get past the fact that he wasn’t the most good-looking guy and see all the other things he could do. Of course, you’d probably see all of his money.
It’s a fairy tale so we want to say that Thumbelina ended up ok, but maybe she didn’t. We have to inject some real life into this. Maybe she chose her mate poorly.
Did this girl ever try to get back in touch with her parents? They must be devastated.
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Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian