The Steadfast Tin Soldier: Overview

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Author: Grace Eckley
Editor: Noelle Watson
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Work overview; Critical essay
Length: 951 words

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"Standhaftige tinsoldat" ("The Steadfast Tin Soldier," also "The Constant Tin Soldier") was published in Hans Christian Andersen's Eventyr (Fairy Tales), which appeared from 1835 to 1842. In the 19th century, the strong impetus for imaginative literature for children, encouraged by the works in folklore of the brothers Grimm, gained power with the efforts of Andersen. Andersen did not collect folklore, but used its effects creatively with a special sympathetic touch for the lonely child who endows inanimate objects with life.

Although deemed a fairy tale, "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" is an adventure story. In a setting of childhood play, it presents the ideals of the life history of a tin soldier who remains constant in duty. Although a pawn to "higher powers" in the form of a little boy, the toy soldier is willing to die in uniform as a soldier should. Conscious of his place and his training, he does not move his eyes, nor does he shout or change his position when distracted or threatened; he never winces with pain.

He is, however, odd man out, the rare exception. Cloned with 24 others from the same old tin spoon, his origin as number 25 in a box that should end, one would suppose, with two dozen, leaves him minus a leg; there was not enough tin to make him like the others. Unlike "The Ugly Duckling," he cannot grow out of his deformity.


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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1420000212