Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Puppet-Show Man

The Puppet-Show ManThe Puppet-Show Man

There was one a puppet master who put on shows for audiences in various establishments. He had multiple puppets and life was ok, but he desired to be a real director. He wanted to go to college. He wanted to be a learned man. He wanted to direct wonderful plays with real actors.

In the town of Slagelse, the puppet-man was giving a show. In the audience were mostly young people. There were a couple of matrons and one man in black. The man in black was a scholar from the Polytechnic University in Copenhagen. He gave a lecture which was wonderful to hear, but some of it was beyond the puppet-man’s comprehension.

The puppet-man desired to impress the scholar. He performed his show thinking only of the scholar in mind. After the show, the scholar invited the puppet-man to his room for drinks. There they talked of science and why magnets work, no, they did not ask the Mormons; they tried to figure it out for themselves. They went on and on, and finally, the puppet-man revealed to the scholar his dream. He wanted to be a director. The scholar said that the puppet-man wished that life would be breathed into his puppets. The night progressed on and things progressed. More wine was poured, and drank. More talk was talked. The idea of the puppets coming alive was discussed at length.

The man felt the wine have its effect on him. The puppets were boxed up and it seemed the man passed out. When he awoke, his puppets were alive. One puppet demanded that she only stand on one leg. The queen puppet wanted to be treated like a queen on the stage and off it. The puppet who delivered a letter overacted. The hero only wanted parts that would bring applause. Another would only act in red light for blue light was harsh on her skin.

The puppet-man, as director, told them they were all only puppets and that they should listen to him. The puppets didn’t like them and so they killed him.

The puppet-man awoke on his own bed; he did not know how he got there. The puppets were strewn about the room and they were not alive. The man shoved them all into the box, not caring which way they went.

He was cured of his longing. He realized as a director of a puppet-show, his puppets did not talk back. They did not make demands as regular actors did. He could pick what plays he wanted to perform and do them in whatever manner that he pleased.

The End


I’ve never seen the movie The Puppet Master, I wonder if it was anything like this?

Slagelse is a real town. It’s in Denmark and it’s on the sea. Hans actually went to grammar school in Slagelse. He wasn’t overly impressed with the place and described it as a nuisance.

Hans has mentioned puppet shows multiple times. I wonder if he watched many puppet shows.


In a broad sense, we have the lesson of, “What you want isn’t always what you thought it would be.” The puppet-man wished to direct real actors. In his dream, he saw what that was like. Real actors would complain. Real actors would have quirks. Real actors would refuse to play certain roles or perform certain plays. Real actors needed to be placated. The puppets could be told to do as the director desired.

The puppet-man had thought his life was small, but he came to find joy in the fact that his life wasn’t more complicated, even if more complications would have brought more notoriety.

We all have this. We all say, “I wish I was this person that does this thing.” We don’t necessarily take into account what those people go through and what their lives are like. Sure, it might be nice to be a famous actor, but what about the paparazzi? What about the pressure to constantly appear one way? What about the constant traveling? What about the fact that everyday moments are in the public eye? If we suddenly became this other person, we would be overwhelmed by what their life entailed. They’re used to it, but we’re not, and, also, just because they’re used to it, doesn’t mean that it isn’t difficult.

We imagine being different people and we think it would be great, but if we actually got to be a different person, we probably wouldn’t find it so great. We would miss being us and we wouldn’t like the problems other people posses.


Puppet master or director?

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