Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Toad

The ToadThe Toad

There were once some toads that lived at the bottom of a well. They lived so far down that they could not see daylight at the top. One toad, the mother toad, had been to the top and back down again. She had been drawn up in the bucket and hopped back down to land with a splash in the water below.

There was a story amongst the toads. One of them had a jewel in their heads. One toad in particular was rather curious about the outside world. One day, when the bucket came down, she hopped in. She was drawn up with the water. The person on the other end of the bucket exclaimed how ugly she was, but she was able to hop away.

For several days she stayed in the nettles beside the well, then she moved on. She wanted to go higher still. She met a caterpillar, who was almost eaten, but was saved by the toad’s ugliness. The toad wanted to go higher still. She heard tales of Egypt and wanted to go to Egypt. A stork grabbed the toad and she did go higher and higher, but it was to be the toad’s last journey for she died and as she did, a spark flew out of her eyes. The spark went along sunbeams to the sun.

She did not have an actual stone in her head, but the spark of curiosity had been inside of her. It was worthy and it left her to join the sun. If you look up at the sun you just may see the jewel that came from the toad’s head.

Observations

Toadstones, also known as Bufonite, are a real thing, sort of. There is much mythology behind the idea of a toadstone. Toads had poison in their skin, so it was therefore assumed that they carried their own antidote in the form of a stone, in their heads. Toad stones do not actually exist. If you’ve ever ran over a toad in your driveway, you will know that there is no stone in their heads. There are actual pieces of what appear to be stones called toadstones, but they’re not stones and nor are they from toads. They’re actually fossilized bits of teeth from lepidotes, which are an extinct form of ray fish. Toadstones were used in medicine and jewelry. They were thought to be an antidote to poison and were even used in the treatment of leprosy.

Themes

This toad was curious, that was her greatest gift and attribute. Curiosity may kill the cat, but in this case it killed the toad. This toad was both curious and naive. Wonder is something to be encouraged. We should wonder about the world around us and we should want to know more. If you take on the attitude of thinking you know everything or the world doesn’t interest you, you’re not a very good example of a human being. We’re meant to question and find answers.

In this story, Hans was also saying that some folklores aren’t really true, but maybe we could look at them in a whimsical manner. We all know Santa Claus isn’t real, but if we looked at him more as an idea–the spirit of Christmas, then we’re saying the folklore about him isn’t necessarily true, but he still has a place in our thoughts. We can still use the idea of Santa Claus in our lives. Hans was giving us a way to use the idea of a toadstone in our lives, not that we really need one.

Overall

Curious toads, maybe that’s why they keep getting run over in the driveway? Seriously, at my mom’s house, toads are always getting run over the in driveway.

Weigh In

Do you think the toad’s curiosity served her well?

Would she have been better off to stay at home?

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