Lesson Plan: The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian
- farthing |ˈfärT͟HiNG| noun a former monetary unit and coin of the UK, withdrawn in 1961, equal to a quarter of an old penny • [usually with negative] the least possible amount: she didn’t care a farthing for the woman.
- hitherto |ˌhiT͟Hərˈto͞o| adverb until now or until the point in time under discussion: there is a need to replace what has hitherto been a haphazard method of payment.
- urchin |ˈərCHən| noun 1 a mischievous young child, especially one who is poorly or raggedly dressed.• archaic a goblin.
- scuffle |ˈskəfəl|verb move in a hurried, confused, or awkward way, making a rustling or shuffling sound: a drenched woman scuffled through the doorway.
- venture |ˈven(t)SHər| verb [no object] dare to do something or go somewhere that may be dangerous or unpleasant: she ventured out into the blizzard.
- ascend |əˈsend| verb of a spiritual being or soul) rise into heaven: the Prophet ascended to heaven | (as adjective ascended) : the risen and ascended Christ.
- luster 1 |ˈləstər| (British lustre) noun 1 a gentle sheen or soft glow, especially that of a partly reflective surface: the luster of the Milky Way | she couldn’t eat, and her hair lost its luster.
- radiant |ˈrādēənt| adjective (of a person or their expression) clearly emanating great joy, love, or health: she gave him a radiant smile.
- noonday |ˈno͞onˌdā| noun the middle of the day: [as modifier] : the blinds were lowered to keep out the noonday sun.
- splendor |ˈsplendər| (British splendour) noun magnificent and splendid appearance; grandeur: the splendor of the Florida Keys.• (splendors) magnificent features or qualities: the splendors of the imperial court.
Questions From the Story
When does the story take place?
New Year’s eve: “Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening, the last evening of the year.” “…for you know it was New Year’s Eve; yes, of that she thought.”
Why were her slippers so large?
The slippers originally belonged to her mother: “They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn.”
What happened to her slippers?
One fell off her foot and a young boy took the other: “One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin, and off he ran with it”
Why didn’t she want to go home?
She was afraid of her father: “…and to go home she did not venture, for she had not sold any matches and could not bring a farthing of money: from her father she would certainly get blows.”
Why did she light the first match?
Because her hands were very cold: “Her little hands were almost numbed with cold. Oh! a match might afford her a world of comfort…”
Why did she light the entire bundle of matches?
She wanted to keep the image of her grandmother with her: “And she rubbed the whole bundle of matches quickly against the wall, for she wanted to be quite sure of keeping her grandmother near her.”
What happened to the little girl at the end?
She died from the cold: “But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall, frozen to death.”
What did the little girl see before she died?
Her grandmother takes her away to a safe, warm, beautiful place: “Grandmother!” cried the little one. “Oh, take me with you!..the grandmother been so beautiful and so tall. She took the little maiden, on her arm, and both flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety, they were with God”.
Questions for Character Analysis
- From whose point of view is the story being told?Third Person: The Narrator is an unnamed/unidentified observer. The narrator reports on events and lets the reader supply the meaning.
- Who is the protagonist in this story?The little girl.
- The Father whom we never meet is presented as frightening, “from her father she would certainly get blows”. Based on the description of their house, “and at home it was cold too, for above her she had only the roof, through which the wind whistled, even though the largest cracks were stopped up with straw and rags.” the father probably does not work.
- The Mother is never mentioned so one would guess that the mother is dead. Giving that the father beats the girl he most likely would have abused the mother as well. Also, the story mentions that the only one to love the little girl was the grandmother. [see under grandmother] which might imply the mother did not show the little girl affection or love.
- The Grandmother appears to be the one who truly loves the little girl, but she is dead, “…for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more…” Further the grandmother is described again, “She struck yet another match against the wall and in its blaze she saw her grandmother, so sweet, so blessedly kind.”
- The Little Match girl: The little girl is the only real character who appears in the story. The other characters appear in visions to the little girl. We know that she fears her father’s beatings so she struggles out in the cold to sell her matches. She also shows bravery by remaining out in the cold.
Questions for Literary Analysis
What are some of the themes in the story?
Some of the themes in the story are poverty, loneliness,
hope, struggle for survival, resilience, love and religion (God, heaven in the after life).
Provide examples of how Andersen uses imagery.
Andersen uses the words “cold” and darkness repeatedly through out the story:
“Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark…”
“In this cold and darkness…”
“She crept along trembling with cold and hunger…”
“…at home it was cold too…”
He uses the word “poor” several times in relation to the little girl:
“In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl…”
“…so large were they; and the poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away…”
“… She crept along trembling with cold and hunger, a very picture of sorrow, the poor little thing!”
He also makes us feel her cold in reference to the little girl’s cold feet and hands:
“So the little maiden walked on with her tiny naked feet, that were quite red and blue from cold.”
“Her little hands were almost numbed with cold.”
“Her little feet she had drawn close up to her, but she grew colder and colder…”
Andersen contrasts her cold and hunger with the following images:
“From all the windows the candles were gleaming, and it smelt so deliciously of roast goose, for you know it was New Year’s Eve; yes, of that she thought.”
“The fire burned with such blessed influence; it warmed so delightfully. The little girl had already stretched out her feet to warm them too…”
At the end we feel her happiness at seeing the vision of her grandmother:
“She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre there stood the old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love…”
Does Andersen provide symbolism in the story? Yes.
The matches may be seen as symbols of hope (each time she strikes a match the little girl sees a pleasing image).
The grandmother symbolizes love, warmth and hope for the little girl.
Her father symbolizes fear and brutality.