Hans Christian Andersen"s The little Match Girl (1845) is one of the saddest, most beautiful stories around loneliness and also magic that memories. We hope this study overview will assist both teachers and students better appreciate the nuances the Andersen"s poignant story.

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Read the story: The small Match Girl, Character evaluation & Summary, Genre & Themes, Quotes, discussion Questions, helpful Links, and also Notes/Teacher Comments

Isabella - The key character that the story is a poor, young Danish girl who is dying, alone and hypothermic on brand-new Year"s Eve, in a dark alley, without shoes or a hat.

Grandmother - The only human being who treated Isabella through love and kindness; she died. Isabella proceeds to light the matches to save her memory lively for as lengthy as she can prior to she is out of matches, dying with the vision the she and also her grandmother space celebrating the new Year in Heaven.

Plot Summary: Isabella is a poor, noble Danish girl who has actually left home and is alone in a dark, cold alley on brand-new Year"s Eve. She"s afraid to go home due to the fact that her father will beat her for not selling the matches. To try to stay warm, she lamp the matches and also sees comforting visions, very first of a stove, climate a holiday feast featuring a goose, followed by a Christmas tree. Isabella looks come the sky and sees a shooting star, a premonition that someone is dying and also going to heaven, follow to she dead grandmother.

Isabella"s critical match

Genre & Themes

Genre: when this definitely falls in the short-story genre, it likewise shares some, however not all, attributes of the fairy story genre. Fairy tales commonly feature folkloric fantasy characters such as giants, dwarfs or fairies. In the story, Andersen mentions an "urchin" who steals she slipper in the second paragraph.

Fairy tales likewise feature magic or enchantments. The shoot star, memories that appear like "magic" and the principle of Heaven have the right to be assumed of together enchantments or beliefs.

Based on the criteria quote above, is The little Match Girl more like a fairy tale than you very first thought? (Not all fairy tales have actually "happily ever before after" endings)

Primary Themes: Opposites: Loneliness, darkness, cold, hunger and also death space sharply contrasted with: Comfort, light, warmth, roast goose, and the expect of the after-life (Heaven)

Comparative Themes: acceptance (grandmother) matches Rejection (father) Life (terribly miserable in her present state) verses death (and the strong belief in Heaven as a ar where us reunite with the dead human being we love)


Explain what the following estimates mean and how castle relate come the story:

"Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and also was virtually quite dark, and also evening-- the critical evening of the year."

"Oh! a enhance might afford her a people of comfort, if she only dared take a single one out of the bundle, draw it against the wall, and warm she fingers by it."

"Where the light fell on the wall, over there the wall became transparent like a veil."

"Someone is just dead!" claimed the small girl; for she old grandmother, the only person who had actually loved her, and who was currently no more, had actually told her, that once a star falls, a soul ascends come God."

"And the matches offered such a brilliant light that it was brighter 보다 at noon-day: never previously had the grandmother been so beautiful and so tall. She took the tiny maiden, on she arm, and both flew in brightness and also in delight so high, so very high, and then over was neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety--they were through God."

"No one had actually the slightest suspicion of what beautiful points she had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, v her grandm she had gotten in on the joys of a brand-new year."

Discussion Questions

1. Just how is the setup in the alley, the cold, and also darkness, symbolic of the girl"s isolation and also sadness?

2. What role does light and fire pat in the story?

3. Explain Andersen"s simile just how the light to be "transparent favor a veil."

4. What carry out the girl"s matchsticks symbolize? (Remember the source for her livelihood was to offer the matchsticks)

5. Exactly how does Andersen evoke the reader"s empathy for the lonely girl? What facets of spirituality does he draw upon?

6. Why execute you think the girl chooses to light every one of the matches one at a time (that can"t keep her warm), quite than shot to start a fire (find document and kindling native the alley)?

7. Describe your own reaction to the girl"s death-- go it leaving you feeling her emptiness (dying alone), or complete with her happy memory (dying contented and also going to sky to be v her Grandmother).

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8. Define the role that Isabella"s solid belief in the after-life-- Heaven-- has actually in this story. If she didn"t have actually this belief, just how would this story end differently?

9. If someone were to say this is a story to read for "perspective," what would certainly they mean?

10. The critical day of the year is often a time to reflect ~ above the past and make wishes because that the future. Exactly how is the timing of this story important?

11. Hans Christian Andersen is revered because that his children"s fairy tales. What elements of a fairy story does The Litte match Girl share v The Ugly Duckling or The Princess and the Pea)? could you argue that there are facets that make it no a fairy tale?

Essay prompt: Read among Andersen"s other "sad" fairy tales, The Brave believe Solder, The Fir-Tree (or find another). Then to compare it in theme, tone, and also literary devices, come The Litte enhance Girl

Hans Christian Andersen

Useful Links

Biography and also Works through Hans Christian Andersen

What renders a Fairy story a Fairy Tale?

Background for teaching Hans Christian Andersen"s Fairy Tales

Questions for Study and Discussion around "The small Match Girl"

History of boy Labor: this story was composed in the middle of the united States" and Europe"s industrial transformation (1820-1870"s), during which son labor to be commonplace, and also there was no "safety net" for destitute kids in negative health and also homeless.

Did you understand the story was adjusted into a 1987 movie, The tiny Match Girl? (Rotten tomatoes rating: 80%)

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Notes/Teacher Comments

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