Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Brave Tin Soldier”

The collection of Hans Christian Andersen stories that I have uses the term “brave” in the title of the story”The Brave Tin Soldier”.  I’ve heard this story referred to as “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”, also.  I would say that either word works.  I think this short work is my favorite Andersen story that I’ve read so far.

The title character is one of twenty-five toy soldiers; however, he was the last one made as the maker ran out of tin, so he only has one leg.  Across the play room, he sees a motionless paper princess in mid dance, standing on one leg.  In order to get to the princess, he makes a deal with the Black Goblin.

During playtime one day, he falls outside from the window.  He embarks on waves of adventure (at least for a toy soldier) in which he remains both brave and steadfast, keeping the paper princess firmly in his mind and heart.  This adventure brought forth the question: why is this happening?  Is the soldier lead by the Hand of Fate?  Or the Black Goblin?  For me, it seemed Fate finally brought the Tin Soldier together with the Paper Princess.  Perhaps it was the Goblin who stepped in later.

In true fairy-tale fashion, while the ending could be considered horrific, Andersen manages to make it simply bittersweet.

2 responses to “Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Brave Tin Soldier”

  1. Hi Dale,
    I remember that, when growing up, we had an LP of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, narrated by Danny Kaye. I can still hear him saying the word, “tender box” in my mind’s ear. I have one collection of fairy tales at home, but I think it’s Grimm’s. Then there is the modernized collection of stories “My father he killed me, my mother she ate me” that I bought but still haven’t read. Sigh…

    • I found a reading of it by David Tennant (the next to last Dr. Who) that was kind of good. I remember you talking about your modernized collection. It sounds great!

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