Anderson's Writing Style

© 2010, Dolena Matthews, Max Monis, Nicole Proctor, Holly Speers

Hans Christian Andersen incorporated a style of humour and irony that did not follow the typical fairy tale style in the 1830s. His style was derived from the classic folk tales he heard from his mother when he was a lower-class child. Folk tales were oral tales that normally criticized the upper social classes by using humor, satire, and ironies to present them as thick-headed. This technique was used in many of Andersen's tales; one example is The Emperor's Clothes. The ignorant king worried too much about his appearance, so poor tricksters made him believe he was wearing marvelous fabrics when he was actually naked. What makes this funny is that the king is supposed to be the one who is intelligent and knowledgeable. To show the king's ignorance, a naive child is the one who makes the more intelligent observation that the invisible fabrics were just a hoax. Anderson made a connection between this king and the upper class in Denmark. This type of social criticism towards the upper class Danish did not go over well. Andersen's acceptance in Denmark's upper class was unpredictable, yet that did not stop his classic folk tale style. Another attribute that is unique and peculiar in his work is that he wrote for the enjoyment of both adults and children. The plots are simple enough for a child to understand the more highly sophisticated morals that he promotes in his work, yet there are still enough underlying messages beneath his humor to keep the interest of adults.