Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Snow Queen: Story the First, Which Describes a Looking-Glass and the Broken Fragments

The Snow Queen: Story the First, Which Describes a Looking-Glass and the Broken FragmentsThe Snow Queen: Story the First, Which Describes a Looking-Glass and the Broken Fragments

There was once a hobgoblin, who happened to be the most wicked of all hobgoblins. One day he decided to make a looking glass.

“He made a looking-glass which had the power of making everything good or beautiful that was reflected in it almost shrink to nothing, while everything that was worthless and bad looked increased in size and worse than ever. The most lovely landscapes appeared like boiled spinach, and the people became hideous, and looked as if they stood on their heads and had no bodies. Their countenances were so distorted that no one could recognize them, and even one freckle on the face appeared to spread over the whole of the nose and mouth.”

This looking-glass caused the hobgoblin to have great amusement at the misery of others. At his school, because he had a school, the other hobgoblins were enthralled with the mirror. They took it to all the lands of the Earth. They said that everyone could see how the world and humanity really was.

They endeavored to take the looking-glass to heaven. As they flew, up and up, the looking-glass became slippery. Finally, it fell to the Earth and shattered.

“But now the looking-glass caused more unhappiness than ever, for some of the fragments were not so large as a grain of sand, and they flew about the world into every country. When one of these tiny atoms flew into a person’s eye, it stuck there unknown to him, and from that moment he saw everything through a distorted medium, or could see only the worst side of what he looked at, for even the smallest fragment retained the same power which had belonged to the whole mirror. Some few persons even got a fragment of the looking-glass in their hearts, and this was very terrible, for their hearts became cold like a lump of ice.”

Other pieces of the looking-glass became windows and spectacles. Each piece caused misery wherever it went and the hobgoblin was delighted to no end. The stories to follow will tell what happened to some of the pieces of the looking-glass.

treasuremap spongebobObservations

Let’s talk about this mirror becoming slippery. I don’t know if this is in the Bible anywhere, but in other scriptures, there is talk of treasure becoming slippery. This mirror was a treasure, to the hobgoblins at least.

In Helaman 13:31 the following is detailed:

And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them.

This is in a passage of scripture speaking of the wickedness of men and their treasures. Basically, wicked men would gain treasures and try to hide them from the Lord, but the Lord would cause them to become slippery so the evil men could not retain them.

These were treasures that these evil men had obtained in an evil manner or they were planning on using said treasures for evil. That describes the mirror in this story. This hobgoblin made it in order to do evil. He let other hobgoblins use it to do evil. The eviler their plans got, the more slippery the mirror became. Trying to ruin heaven with a distorted mirror is pretty darn evil.

Basically, if you’re bad, there is a chance that the things you value might slip out of your grasp. Maybe God did it, maybe it was karma, maybe it was even you. However it happened, you lost something you valued because of your actions.

distorted body imageThemes

I love the idea in this story of there being this mirror that broke into all these little pieces that cause us to see the bad things in the world.

We can look at this story many ways, but what is important to remember about the story is that our view can be distorted and it’s not necessarily a good thing, in fact, it’s probably never a good thing. If we were to look through this glass at other people, we would see their faults. We might find a person ugly when we had no cause to. If we looked through this glass at the world, we would only see the bad in the world. If we let a piece of this mirror pierce our hearts, we would see bad in everything around us and be unfeeling. If we looked through this mirror at ourselves, we would only see our faults. We would think we were ugly when we were not. We would believe that we were fat when we were not. We would put ourselves down because our view was distorted.

This is some powerful stuff. This story assumes that it is not a natural state to be a pessimist. If you are a pessimist, something has gone wrong. Honestly, I tend to think like that, although, I have been known to be pessimistic in times. I don’t believe that we naturally want to see the bad things in the world. There is something that acts upon us and causes us to look at the bad instead of the good. Is it a magically evil broken mirror? Probably not, it’s more likely that it’s how society conditions us that causes us to see the bad in the world, but the mirror story sounds a lot better.

I think if a person could imagine that something acted upon them and caused them to see the bad in everything and everyone, then, maybe, a person could try to extract that from themselves.


I love this idea.

Weigh In

Do you think young girls could benefit from the idea of this mirror distorting their views in relation to body image?

Do you feel that people who are pessimistic have some kind of filter they’re looking through at the world?


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