…and the shoes go on.
At the Copenhagen hospital there is a fence with wide-set bars. Some patients, if skinny enough and with a small enough head, can sneak through the bars unnoticed by guards to go and see friends. A volunteer at the hospital decided that he would like to go out one rainy evening. He remembered the galoshes that had been left behind by a patient and thought that they would serve him well in the damp weather.
The volunteer had a big head. He went to the fence and tried to get through, but his head was too big. He wished that his head were through, and as the galoshes were magical they put his head through. The problem was that the volunteer wasn’t skinny enough to fit the rest of his body through. So he was stuck. He tried and tried to free himself, not knowing that he was wearing magical shoes that could get him out of this situation. Finally, he wished he were out, and the galoshes worked their magic and he was out. He decided not to go out for the evening.
The next day he went to a show, wearing the galoshes. In the play there was talk of a magical pair of glasses that allowed a person to have hints about life and see what was inside of other people. The man very much wished that he could see into the hearts of all the ladies of the front row. No sooner had his wished this than he found himself in the hearts of the ladies.
Some of the hearts were sanctuaries like unto God. Other hearts were full of pins. Another heart was full of other people. This passage in particular caught my attention:
“Then he entered the heart of this man’s wife; it was an old, tumble-down pigeon-house; the husband’s portrait served as a weather-cock; it was connected with all the doors, which opened and shut just as the husband’s decision turned.”
Another heart was full of mirrors.
The man had enough of all of this nonsense. He thought having his head stuck in the bars the night before must have done him some damage. He wished he were in a Russian bath. He soon found himself there in a Russian bath, fully dressed. Someone looked at him funny and he told him he was on a dare. He put large blisters on his neck and back when he got home and that was all he got from the galoshes of fortune.
I don’t know what this blister thing means. I tried looking it up, but I didn’t get very far. I assume it’s some sort of healing procedure that is out of date. Maybe it’s like Chinese cupping. This man put blisters on himself intentionally. He must have thought it would help him out. Some healing procedures such as balancing the four humors of your body, blood-letting, and purging were never as beneficial as people used to think they were. This blistering thing was probably among these healing practices that didn’t do much of anything.
The passage I quoted up above is sad to me. The man had just been through the heart of this woman’s husband whose heart was filled with meat. He was full of greed apparently. The woman’s heart was ruled by whatever mood the husband happened to be in. I find that sad. That means she’s scared of him. She’s scared of what mood he might be in. If he’s angry, some of the doors of her heart shut and she can’t go through those doors, whatever they may lead to. In my opinion, this poor woman is trapped, at least that’s how I interpret it. Living your entire life based on whatever mood your husband or wife is in doesn’t sound like a good way to live life. This man ruled his wife and she didn’t get to make decisions of her own.
I wanted to see if Hans was describing a real thing when he was describing this hospital and its fence. He actually was. The building he was describing was the Fredericks hospital. The particular building is no longer a hospital, but the hospital system is still operating in another location as the Rigshospitalet. The building Hans was describing is now used as the Danish Museum of Art and Design. In the picture for this section you can just see the fence on the right of the picture.
First off, getting what you wish isn’t always a good thing as this guy found out. He got himself stuck in a fence, which really sucks. One time my mom’s dog got himself stuck in the deck fence. He could sort of fit through, but not all the way. He got the first part of his body through, but couldn’t get the back part through. He was just hanging there. We had to loosen one of the deck railings so he could be freed.
This man then wishes to look into the hearts of others. Some of the hearts weren’t bad places, but others were unpleasant. These people looked nice enough on the outside, but you could never tell what was going on inside. We don’t know what another person carries around inside of them. They may be a wonderful person or they may have dark secrets. They may act wonderful on the outside, but deep in their hearts they’re full of greed or envy or hatred.
There’s a song by Kelly Clarkson called Dark Side. The lyrics I want to point out are, “Will you love me? Even with my dark side?” Each of us carry around this secret side of ourselves that we don’t readily let people see. This is what this volunteer was seeing. He was seeing the dark side of each of these people. Some of these people were almost unforgivably pious while others were terrible. This poor woman I talked about earlier, probably never let on that she was ruled to such a degree by her husband. She probably didn’t let anybody know, even her closest friends. There are some things we like to keep to ourselves. We may let people in on these things, but we have to know them extremely well and even then we’re still afraid that what we’ve let them in on may change their opinions of us.
The galoshes did not serve this man very well either.
Trust me, you don’t want to see into the hearts of other people. Hearts are places full of raw emotions and secrets, not that they’re all bad, it would just be very intense and too much for us to handle in addition to our own dark sides.
Going to the sauna fully clothed, sounds like a dare to me. It reminds me of a scene from The Count of Monte Cristo, when Dantes is revealing who he really is to the man who sentenced him to prison in the sauna, while wearing all of his clothes. For some reason it was also reminding me of the scene in Orange is the New Black where Larry and his dad go to a gay sauna. The dad was like, “I got a Groupon for this place.” Ha!
copenhagen, dark side, fredericks hospital, Hans Christian Andersen!!, hearts, stuck in a fence, The Eventful Moment-A Most Unusual Journey, The Eventful Moment-A Most Unusual Journey hans christian andersen, The Eventful Moment-A Most Unusual Journey the galoshes of fortune, the galoshes of fortune hans christian andersen, volunteer
Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian