Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

Ole the Tower-Keeper: Second Visit

Ole the Tower-Keeper: Second VisitOle the Tower-Keeper: Second Visit

The visitor went to see Ole again and this time Ole spoke of drinking on New Years. Each glass could contain any number of things. Maybe hope. Maybe sorrow. Maybe pleasure. Maybe health.

They all came in order.

The first glass held health.

The second glass holds a little bird that soars upward and shares its song with everyone. People are encouraged.

The third glass holds an urchin; he has wings and goblin blood. He is no angel. He’ll sit by your ear and whisper naughty things there.

The fourth glass holds a pause for reason.

The fifth glass first makes a person sorrowful, but then Prince Carnival comes out of it and everyone has a good time.

The sixth glass is the worst of all for it holds a little well-dressed man who is a demon. He agrees with everything you might say. He seems like your other half.

Ole says these are the history of the glasses and that drunkenness may lead to committing a whole host of other sins.


By this sixth glass whoever is drinking is probably drunk.

This is not a children’s story.


This story is a metaphor about getting drunk. Each glass describes a person gradually getting drunker. The first glass seems fine. The second glass begins to make things a little weird and it just progresses from there. By the time you get to the sixth glass, you think you’re pretty awesome, but in reality, you’re just drunk.

Drinking is habit-forming, as we all know. The sixth glass says that the little man becomes your better half. The little man is alcohol addiction. This little man will go everywhere with you because you’ll always be wanting a drink. You have gone past the drink of reason and past the drink that makes you say and do silly things. You’ve gone past simply drinking to your health straight into addiction.

I have no idea if Hans was a man who struggled with an alcohol addiction. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t, but he describes the process of getting drunk in a very poetic, and accurate manner, at least I would like to think so.

I’m not really an imbiber of alcohol. I am not often around people who are drunk. Being a drunk and drinking a glass of wine for health benefits are two entirely different things. There are people who waste their lives away with alcohol and it’s sad. Drinking one glass can definitely lead to a second glass and then a third. When does a person stop?

Once upon a time, I used to work in a nursing home. One of the youngest men I ever took care of was forty-one years old. He had basically drank himself to death, as he died not long after entering into the facility. That’s what you don’t want. You don’t want alcohol to take over your life. One drink for your health is fine, and maybe another to make everyone happy, but when you get to the part where the little man is, beware.


Despite this not actually being a story fit for children, I kind of liked it. It has a good lesson.

Weigh In

Do you think Hans’ description of getting drunk is fairly accurate?

What do you think about Hans’ usage of a little man to describe alcohol addiction?


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