The Red Shoes (fairy tale)

The Red Shoes (fairy tale)

Infobox Book |
name = The Red Shoes
title_orig = De røde sko
translator =

image_caption = Illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen
author = Hans Christian Andersen
country = Denmark
language = Danish
series =
genre = Fairy tale
published_in = "Nye Eventyr. Første Bind. Tredie Samling. 1845."
publication_type =
publisher = C. A. Reitzel
media_type = Print
pub_date = 7 April 1845
english_pub_date =
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Red Shoes" (Danish: "De røde sko") is a fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen first published by C.A. Reitzel in Copenhagen 7 April 1845 in "New Fairy Tales. First Volume. Third Collection. 1845." ("Nye Eventyr. Første Bind. Tredie Samling. 1845.") Other tales in the volume include "The Elf Mound" ("Elverhøi"), "The Jumpers" ("Springfyrene"}, "The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep" ("Hyrdinden og Skorstensfejeren"), and "Holger Danske" ("Holger Danske"). [ [ Hans Christian Andersen: Nye Eventyr. Første Bind. Tredie Samling. 1845.] ]

The tale was republished 18 December 1849 as a part of "Fairy Tales. 1850." ("Eventyr. 1850.") and again on 30 March 1863 as a part of "Fairy Tales and Stories. Second Volume. 1863." ("Eventyr og Historier. Andet Bind. 1863.") [ [ Hans Christian Andersen: The Red Shoes] ] The story is about a girl forced to dance continually in her red shoes. "The Red Shoes" has seen adaptations in various media including film.

Plot summary

A peasant girl named Karen is adopted by a rich old lady after her mother's death. She grows up vain. She tricks her adoptive mother into buying her a pair of red shoes and repeatedly wears them to church, without paying attention to the service. Her adoptive mother becomes ill, but Karen deserts her, preferring to attend a party in her red shoes. Once she begins dancing, she can't stop. The shoes take over. She cannot control them and they are stuck to her feet. The shoes continue to dance, through fields and meadows, rain or shine, night and day. She can't even attend her adoptive mother's funeral. An angel appears to her, condemning her to dance even after she dies, as a warning to vain children everywhere. Karen finds an executioner and asks him to chop off her feet. He does so and gives her a pair of wooden feet and crutches. Thinking that she has suffered enough for the red shoes Karen decides to go to church in order for the people to see her, but the chopped-off feet with the red shoes dance before her, barring the way. The following Sunday she tries again, thinking of herself at least as good as the others in church, but again the dancing red shoes bar the way. Karen gets a job as a maid in the parsonage, but when Sunday comes she dares not go to church. Instead she sits alone at home and prays to God. Then, it is as though the church comes home to her and her heart becomes so filled with sunshine, peace, and joy that it bursts. Her soul flies on sunshine to heaven, and no one there asks her about the red shoes.


Andersen explained the origins of the story in an incident he witnessed as a small child. By his report, his father was sent a piece of red silk by a rich lady customer, to make a pair of dancing slippers for her daughter. Using red leather along with the silk, he worked very carefully on the shoes, only to have the rich lady tell him they were trash. She said he had done nothing but spoil her silk. "In that case," he said, "I may as well spoil my leather too," and he cut up the shoes in front of her.


* "The Red Shoes" is a 1948 British feature film about ballet, written, directed and produced by the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The film tells the story of a young ballerina who joins an established ballet company and becomes the lead dancer in a new ballet called "The Red Shoes", based on the fairy tale. Her compulsion to dance conflicts with her need for love and a normal life, ultimately leading to her suicide. The film stars Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook and Marius Goring and features renowned dancers from the ballet world. It has original music by Brian Easdale and cinematography by Jack Cardiff, and is well regarded for its creative use of Technicolor.

* In the climatic scene in "The Simpsons" episode Last Tap Dance in Springfield (BABF15), Lisa dances uncontrollably after putting on a pair of tap shoes.

*British art-rocker Kate Bush's seventh album, 'The Red Shoes', was named after the film and the story.

* "The Red Shoes" is a 2005 Korean horror film inspired by the fairy tale.

ee also

*List of works by Hans Christian Andersen


External links

* [ The Red Shoes] Jean Hersholt's English translation
* [ De røde sko] Original Danish text
* [ Fairyland Red Shoes Interactive Story]
* [ SurLaLune's Annotated The Red Shoes]
* [ full text from "Andersen's Fairy Tales"]

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