The Little Match Girl Analysis and Theme

The ice and cold of the environment reflects the pain and suffering of the little girl as she ventures out alone to earn a few cents which would earn her the measly meal of the day. It is the eve of yet another year and no light or festivities warmed her cold hands and feet. The description is full of juxtaposes and sad incidences but the emotions and tenderness of the author reflects in the voice of the narration. There is not even an ounce of bitterness hampering the soft flow of the story. This is the writer’s talent that he has presented an alarming and deeply moving story in a very mild tone. He has made it suitable for young readership since little children often get disturbed and upset over such stories.

The Little Match Girl Theme

There are many important themes in this beautifully crafted short story, but the most important would be the themes of child abuse and child poverty. Children are nearly never responsible for the actions that their parents take and they without reason suffer a life full of destitution and deprivation. They are exposed to the ruthless world of the poor and the fallen from the minute they were born and their miserable life more often than not ends due to hunger and lack of basic necessities and like warm clothes and proper shelter. They are the hapless victims of poverty and they live within a hazardous circle of illiteracy, unemployment and eternal hardships.

The author also speaks about the reassurance of the self against the tide of difficulties. The sub-conscious mind of the little girl was strong enough to hold on to her memories of the grandmother to provide her some sense of comfort and respite even in the darkest of times. The people see only the frozen dead girl lying uncared for on the snow and they feel sorry for her. They do not understand the reality of the situation, where death came as a welcome relief to her otherwise tortured life. According to the author, in some cases, when a life cannot be saved or is ignored by others, death can act as an end to the painful existence. This is a much debated and controversial topic and it has been proved that utmost should be done by others to help and save a life in such situations.

The small child had a beautiful ending to bleak and dreary life as described by the story-teller. Her imaginary visions were strong enough to carry her through the dark night and send her off smiling into the afterlife. She was so lost in her delusions that she didn’t feel the pangs of starvation and cold near the end. In her mind, she died peacefully in the arms of her dear grandmother who didn’t leave her alone in the night and took her away to a safe place with her.

The Little Match Girl Analysis: Character Sketch

The little girl is sent off to sell matches by an abusive cruel father, at an age when she should be protected and nourished by her parents. This motherless girl child has nowhere else to go so she wanders off alone in the snow to avoid her father. Usually father figures are respected and honoured by daughters in all cultures but here we see a little girl actually running away from her own father. It is extremely sad when children cannot even count on their own parents for safety and love, since the outside world is anyways full of harsh and exploiting people as it is. We see an example of such an uncaring world in the character of the boy thief and the carriages that rushed past her as if she was an invisible figure. Even during the festive season of Christmas and New Year her suffering continues and she gets respite only through the hallucinations. Only in the trick of the fire does she truly live a glorious life.

The character of the father and mother are mentioned only sparingly in the story but we realise that they have an important role to play, as the tale unfolds. The reckless and abusive father and cares very little about his daughter. He is shown to be the kind of person who places the responsibility of earning cents for food on his daughter and beats her up when she cannot procure any money.

The girl is only a child and he seems to be some kind of a monster for having inflicted such an ordeal upon her. The father and the missing mother have made the girl feel very alone in her life and perhaps her happiest memories of family come from her grandmother, who apparently loved and cherished the little girl a lot when she was alive. The impact of a dysfunctional family on the psychology and actions of a child can be very disastrous.

The legendary author and poet, Hans Christian Andersen has weaved a beautiful tragic story which also includes a message of hope and redemption. The story, The Little Match Girl, has all the elements of a typical Christian winter tale but here the character is redeemed by not the good deeds of fellow human beings or a Christmas miracle but by death. The subtext of the narrative is thought-provoking and the readers are compelled to think about the young and the needy who require basic necessities to survive the long winter season. The festive month is not only the time for merriment but also the time for compassion for the poor.

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