‘The Shirt-Collar’ by Hans Christian Andersen

The Shirt-Collar by Hans Christian Andersen, 1848

The magic trick:

Employing zero subtly whatsoever in delivering a moral

Well, maybe it’s not among Hans Christian Andersen’s strongest stories, but, hey, it’s still pretty good.

This is a story with a moral. And the moral is not left up to the reader’s interpretation. No points here for being subtle.

The closing paragraph literally includes a sentence that begins: “And this is a warning to us…”

And that’s quite a trick on Andersen’s part.

The selection:

“You must not speak to me,” said the garter; “I do not think I have given you any encouragement to do so.”

“Oh, when any one is as beautiful as you are,” said the shirt-collar, “is not that encouragement enough?”

“Get away; don’t come so near me,” said the garter, “you appear to me quite like a man.”

“I am a fine gentleman certainly,” said the shirt-collar, “I possess a boot-jack and a hair-brush.” This was not true, for these things belonged to his master; but he was a boaster.

“Don’t come so near me,” said the garter; “I am not accustomed to it.”

“Affectation!” said the shirt-collar.


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