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Frozen vs Snow Queen

Updated on April 24, 2015


Since I've already written a review of the Grimm's fairy tales, I thought it would be interesting to review Hans Christian Andersen's tales, as well. Mainly this review will reveal the life of Andersen and pick out the differences and similarities between the Snow Queen, his original tale, and the Disney adaptation, Frozen, whose review you can find here.

Hans Christian Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish writer and poet born in 1805.

He received very good schooling, going to an expensive boarding school at a young age, and some question whether he was an illegitimate child of Danish royalty. The rumors were never confirmed, however, and in 1819 he took off to travel around Copenhagen as an actor.

When he returned to school he immediately began writing, but his teachers disapproved. While at one school, he was abused by the headmaster. This, paired with being unable to write, caused Andersen to become depressed and later state that schooling was the darkest period of his life.

Despite this, he moved on to write several books and plays. It was in 1835, after the king granted him a pass to travel around Europe to develop his stories, that Andersen began writing fairy tales.

His fairy tales have been translated in more than 125 languages

During his travels, he became pals with writer Charles Dickens while writing the now-famous The Little Mermaid and The Emperor's New Clothes.

Andersen is said to have fallen in love with both men and women, but never married, and was said to have sworn off having sexual relations with any gender due to his moral and religious beliefs. He died of liver cancer on August 4, 1875.


Snow Queen

Let's begin by saying that Frozen is a very loose adaptation of Snow Queen. Very, very loose. Barely recognizable, even.

If anyone has read the Snow Queen before, the first obvious difference between this tale and Disney's Frozen is that Snow Queen is filled with religious undertones while Frozen is not.

Snow Queen is about two young friends, a girl named Gerda and a boy named Kay, who play together every day, but are split up when a piece of magic mirror--dropped by demons, causing it to shatter and scatter across the Earth--gets lodged in young Kay's eye, causing him to see the world in a different way, such as making an evil queen made entirely of ice look beautiful and welcoming.

He is kidnapped by the Snow Queen and his friend Gerda goes on an adventure to look for him.

The only similarities between this tale and Frozen are this; there is a queen associated with ice/ice powers, a girl searches for her friend, and there is a reindeer. Here, the similarities end abruptly.

It's hard to see how Frozen came about from this tale. It would have been impossible but for the obvious key points in Frozen that were put in to separate it from the other princess Disney movies--namely, the fact that (spoiler) the princess is not saved by the prince, but her sister.

Though it would have been refreshing to see a princess save the prince, which is a spin they could have easily pulled from Snow Queen since little Gerda went on an adventure and saved Kay herself, the writers decided to create a sisterly bond that saved the day in the end, and instead took on the perspective of the Snow Queen herself.

Themes and Grimms

Despite the mentions of demons and evil queens, Andersen's tales are a touch less dark then Grimm's fairy tales with a noticeably less amount of gore. Unlike Grimm's tales, that tend to scare children into submission, Andersen tells stories with underlying morals that encourage children towards God and religion.

A common aspect that runs through Andersen's stories is that: Evil conquers the heart of someone easily manipulated--typically a male--and must be saved by someone who is pure of heart and impervious to the evil--who usually happens to be a woman or young girl.

His admiration for the female gender is obvious--and I don't mean that in a weird way. But there is almost always a heroine in the story that ends up saving the man, and it's extremely refreshing from the typical prince-saves-princess-from-evil-curse-from-queen story played and stretched a million times over. This most likely stems from the unrequited love strung throughout Andersen's life; the main woman is always pure and unobtainable to the other characters in the story, just as he feels.

Snow Queen Animated Short


There's a reason these stories are classics, and a reason we still remember the name Hans Christian Andersen. It's not who we might think his father was, or who he may or may not have fallen in love with. We remember him because his stories were worth reading, and I encourage everyone to take the time and read some of his stories, even if they're not fairy tales.

Who wrote your favorite fairy tales?

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