Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Swineherd

The SwineherdThe Swineherd

There was once a poor prince. He wanted to marry the daughter of the emperor. He sent her a beautiful rose growing upon the grave of his father. He also sent her a nightingale that sang the most beautiful songs. The princess did receive them and remarked how beautiful each was, but when she found out they were real items, she was not impressed. She let the bird go.

The prince traveled to the kingdom and disguised himself as a common man. He asked for a position. He was rewarded with the position of a swineherd. In his hut, he had made a teapot. This teapot played the only song the princess knew how to play. It did something else amazing as well. If one put their finger on the steam, one would immediately smell what other people in the village were having for dinner.

The princess walked by the swineherd’s humble house and heard the music. She asked her ladies to ask him how much the teapot was.

The swineherd said he would not sell it, but for ten kisses, from the princess. He would not take kisses from anyone else. The Princess agreed. Her ladies stood all around and hid her while she was kissing the swineherd. She was delighted with the teapot.

The swineherd again made something wonderful. He made a rattle, that when spun, would play any song in the world since the creation of time. The princess just had to have it. She once again asked her ladies to find the price of the item. The swineherd said it would be a hundred kisses from the princess. The princess agreed, once again. Her ladies stood around shielding them from onlookers.

As it happened, the king was wondering what all the commotion was near the pigsty. He looked and saw his daughter kissing the swineherd. He threw a shoe at them at hit them as they were kissing for the sixty-eighth time. He banished both the swineherd and the princess from the kingdom. The princess began to weep. She lamented the fact that she had not accepted the prince earlier.

The prince cleaned himself up and revealed himself to be the very prince the princess had refused. He told her that he had learned to despise her. She had refused an honest prince but sold kisses for trinkets from a swineherd. She could be alone and sing the only song she knew.

“A jolly old sow once lived in a sty,

Three little piggies has she.”

The End

Observations

How can one be a poor prince? Well, there aren’t nearly as many princes as there used to be. There used to be multiple kingdoms in what we now consider only one kingdom. There would be various princes. They may not all have that much money. There were such things as poor kingdoms. They still had a prince and a king, or whatever, but compared to other kingdoms, they were poor.

An emperor would have had a lot of wealth. A prince from a poor kingdom would have seemed paltry compared to other suitors.

Themes

This princess is obsessed with gadgets. I honestly have never really thought about gadget obsession being something that would have been a thing two-hundred years ago, but I suppose it was. You have to remember that it was a time when new inventions were exploding left and right out into the public. People were really beginning to get all these things they had never had before. The princess didn’t want something alive, she wanted something that did something else. She wanted a feat of mechanical engineering.

The Prince created a teapot that gave a person smells of what other people were having for dinner and it played music. He also created a rattle that could play any song. While we do have devices and the internet to look up any song we want to look up, we don’t have a device that inherently knows all the songs in the world. We also don’t have devices that can give us smells. Smells are actually extremely difficult. Companies spend billions of dollars a year buying flavors and smells from factories that specialize in artificially creating smells. What the prince created is impossible. It would be a pretty impressive gadget.

The princess loved gadgets. She just loved them. Gadgets are great and all, but they’re no substitute for living things. You can’t substitute a gadget for a tree. You can’t substitute a gadget for a person. People try, but those gadgets break. Those gadgets have glitches. The princess was trying to substitute gadgets for real life. It doesn’t work. You may be happy for a while, but your happiness will fade when your gadget breaks, or a newer, better gadget comes out.

The princess ignored real life in favor of the pursuit of gadgets and look where it got her.

Overall

This reminds me of a song. It goes something like this, “I’m a twenty-first-century digital boy. I don’t know how to live, but I have a lot of toys.” Yep, sounds exactly like the princess.

Weigh In

Do you think we should make gadgets to substitute real life things or do you believe there is no substitute for real life?

Do you think we try to simulate reality with all our gadgets and ignore the real world?

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