Five Peas from a Pod
Five Peas from a Pod
- Plot Summary
- Analysis of the tale, “Five Peas from a Pod”
- Five peas from a pod and the Biedermeier principles
- Works cited
Hans Andersen’s dislike for books drove him away from school. He was enrolled in this institution after a botched attempt at the theatre. Later, his talent and creativity was channeled at authorship. His flagship publication was released in 1829, with more editions following at regular intervals. This occurred due to the fact that he perceived his books to be of greater worth than his fantasies. He altered this perception in the latter stages upon realizing that the trivial stories could portray the existence and nature of human beings charmingly. As a result, he quit writing trifles suited for children and focused on original compositions as opposed to retelling traditional tales. This paper examines the concept of decision making and the consequences thereof as advanced by Andersen in this literary publication.
In this story, Andersen talks about the lifecycle of five peas in a pod. They begin as green peas in a pod, assuming that the whole world is green. The pods matured and changed colors from green to brown. It is noteworthy that their perception changed with this development. After maturity, they were harvested by a young boy and used as toys for his pea shooter. It is noteworthy that as they were being dispersed, each of the peas had a different wish. The first pea dared anyone with the ability to catch it as it was released. It fell on a roof and remained lying in a pigeon’s crop. The second pea targeted to reach to the sun. It was termed as the best by the author.
The next set of peas claimed they would go to sleep wherever they landed just before they were released. These two also fell on the same gutter as the first one, and were quickly eaten by the pigeons. It is noteworthy that one pea fell into the drainage system. As it lay there, it swelled incredibly after absorbing the dirty water present in the system. The last of the peas threw caution to the wind, saying that he would gladly accept his fate, irrespective of whatever happened. It landed on moss and soft soil which under a garret window. It was immediately enclosed by the moss thereby remained hidden.
It is reported that an old lady lived in the garret with her frail daughter. She eked out a living by doing menial jobs. The girl was confined to bed and seemed destined for death. Her mother was thus convinced that she would die, just like her sister had. When seasons changed to spring, the shining sun drew the girl’s attention to a green plant that was swaying in the wind. She brought it to her mother’s attention, and she moved her bed to the window. This was to enable her look at it as she grew. Summarily, the pea inspired the girl and gave her the strength to grow. As time went by, she developed steadily in tandem with the pea. This made it the only productive pea in the end.
Analysis of the tale, “Five Peas from a Pod”
In general, the fairy tale has a classical formal and internal structure and includes a number of alterations in its plot advancement. Initially, the sole existence of harmony brings in the original situation of steadiness and happiness: “The sun shone on the pod and the rain washed it. It was warm and cozy inside, light in the daytime and dark at night, just as it is supposed to be” (Yullie, 38). Metaphorically, the description is reminiscent of a person stage under the custody of parents of guardians. While the existence of five peas in the same pod underscores the protection caretakers provide for their young ones, the existence of peas with different sizes may imply the different social strata that exist in modern society. At this stage, the kind of lifestyle a person leads will be determined by the decisions his caregivers made in their lifetime.
As the next move of “lack” reflection changes the serenity. The characters start thinking about the future, they start realizing that they are about to grow out their tight shell. The first doubts emerge: “I am afraid that I shall grow hard from sitting so long. I have a notion that there is something outside, I can feel it! (Yullie 40)” This stage embodies the turbulent circumstances a person undergoes in the course of development and subsequent maturity. Due to this period of uneasiness one gradually leaves the comfort zone and pitches into the perilous sphere of life. At this stage, the metaphors used denote maturity. This refers to the level where persons leave their caregivers and chart their own course. By leaving the pod, Andersen is probably making reference to the commencement of life as an individual and shouldering personal responsibilities singlehandedly. At this point, it is assumed that all persons have been socialized into by the society. They were introduced to religion, received an education and made numerous friends from the persons they associated with. Their present state comes as a consequence of the decisions they made in life, for example, efforts they put in school and many more.
It is noteworthy, that he points out to a mandatory ‘coming out’ as the preliminary step taken by the characters in their “quest”. This moment is pivotal as it marks the difficulty persons undergo in the initial phases of the experience. It also represents the defining moment of the plot because of the different choices made by the characters. Each of them has a personal strategy, which influences their further life. The first one is full of ambitions: "I shall fly right up into the sun" (Yullie 43), while two are unresponsive and full of droopiness: "Oh! We shall slumber wherever we end up," another pea retorts, "Rolling is as good as flying". It is remarkable that three of the five peas bear common ideas, which suggest that they lack individuality and cling to widespread opinions. It is remarkable that only one pea is competitive and shows ambition: “We will get the farthest” (Yullie 45).
It should be noted that persons approach life just as represented by the peas. Some people are overly ambitious. They have lofty ambitions which fizzle out as life continues. This is often a result of several poor decisions that they resorted to when faced with uncertainties. Another group of persons are completely bereft of ideas. This translates to a lack of ambition and impetus necessary to succeed in life. In the event such people face challenging scenarios, they often opt for the easy way out. They prefer living through life without a struggle. The last of the peas depicts preparedness for whatever situation life will present someone with. The phrase "Come what will!" clearly portrays a combination of ambition and caution that is important in the quest for personal success. When it was taken from the pod and shot by the boy, the pea, not knowing where it would land, was psychologically prepared for any outcome. It landed on a broken window upon lots of soil and moss where “it lay hidden, but not forgotten by our Lord”. This metaphorical phrase may be analogous to scenarios where persons are faced with qualms in life, which often result from a plethora of factors. This may include job loss, inability to get employment, or any other catastrophe of a great magnitude that has negative implications on the individual’s life. This category of people will adapt to their new environment and make the best for themselves with the existing resources at their disposal. Just like the pea was able to sprout into a young plant. In addition, these persons may use these positions to bring the best out of those in their surroundings, just like the pea inspired the girl into a recovery process.
Consequences in this story have been portrayed metaphorically as rewards. For a moment, he depicts the pea to be faced with the challenge of human communication. This depicts vulnerability; hence the pea is forced to trust in the world and fate for wellbeing. In the real life, this metaphor refers to the state of portraying honesty and originality. In the event a person finds himself in a quagmire, staying true to his identity creates several avenues for assistance towards their personal augmentation and maturity. By acknowledging vulnerability, the pea makes the right decision, since assistance comes from several quarters. First among the helpers is the poor woman with a dying daughter. She props up the pea with a stick to protect it from wind after she discovers the plant is important in her daughter’s recovery. This is because she has seen a symbol of hope and faith in the blossoming of the pea that needed daily nourishment.
She draws the user to the second helper, when she says "God Himself planted that pea and made it thrive for your sake, to give you back your health, my sweet little girl, and to give me joy and hope" (Bernsen, Charfuelàn, Corradini, Dybkjær, Hansen, et al. 56)
. Her actions further imply her gratitude and the attachment she has with the flower, as depicted when she “smiled toward the flower as though it were an angel from God”. These assertions show God’s unending care for the helpless who recognize and submit to his power. He props up the helpless and the needy, just as he was able to sustain the plant, which was crucial for the recovery of the helpless girl.
The last phase is the one of “reward”, and it is representative of the mercy and justice that people obtain as the end result of their own actions. While the lazy and the competitive peas have been eaten by pigeons, the ambitious one has got into the muddy water of a gutter. Symbolically, it does not realize that the place it takes is not the best choice. Many persons suffer the same predicament in the present time, making them underachievers due to their ignorance. After making a good start, they become complacent doe to a sense of pride over the sizeable achievements they have made. This is symbolized by the swelling of the pea. As a result, most of them remain at the same level for the entire period of their productive life, realizing the numerous opportunities they lost when it is too late to do anything about it. It is only the last pea in the pod that gets a true reward in the form of growth and development. Besides, the mission of this pea to bring joy, hope and save the life of the dying girl underlines the author’s message about true human values. The category of persons represented by this segment makes it their duty to go about their business in a manner that is mindful of other people’s interests. This way, they are satisfied by the results they get and those around them are also satisfied since they have been affected positively by the impact of this activities.
To sum up, the fairy tale of Andersen raises the issues of universal human concern. It reveals how people’s choice affects their further life. The author states that false ambitions, indifference and struggle with the other people take much energy and lead to nowhere. At the same time, trust to the Universe, to God or fate, whatever one calls it, gives a chance of personal growth and of finding one’s true place in this world. The fairy tale exposes the process of spiritual transformation, which is only possible through refusing from false though tempting choices. Discovering one’s own identity is the way to happiness and self-realization.
Five peas from a pod and the Biedermeier principles
The Biedermeier period coincided with the revival of Danish cities which had been razed down by fires following a series of attacks by the Britons. Given the small population Copenhagen had, it was easy for artists and other talented personalities to meet and chart out new means of rebuilding their city. German artists and architects had successfully sold this idea to the Danes after successfully implementing it in their nation. Architects changed the designs they produced, while songwriters and poets also changed the contents of their works. It followed that writers also had to change their mode of writing in order to remain relevant. Andersen’s literature thrived on this new concept. He introduced the concept of fairy tales, authoring fables suitable for persons of all age groups. On the surface value, most his stories may pass for fantasies; although a closer look always reveals a deeper meaning for each one of them. Most of the literature in this era was depoliticized, forming a basis for Andersen to write about the society and other factors that affected him personally (Mesrobian 168). This is because most characters in his stories referred to persons close to his life. He glorified those he was fond of and castigated those he did not like. It laid emphasis on the existence of a harmonious relationship between nature, history and mankind. This implied that the nature of new inventions was altered.
The Biedermeier principles are evident in this tale. They are depicted by Andersen’s decision to the present a malleable story in this publication; since it configures itself to a form that bears semblance to the outline of our way of life. The characters of the story bear similar beliefs as those of the present day human being; hence strike a resonating chord as the story progresses. This strategy is essential in the author’s quest to attract and maintain the attention of the reader through suspense. Andersen's fifth pea is sufficient proof of God's compassion. ''God himself planted that pea and made it thrive for your sake, to give you back your health,'' the mother says. It is commonplace that a vast majority of the present population believes in the existence of a deity. It follows that they will turn to their supreme being in times of trouble, and shows their gratitude to him, for any good fortune they experience. The above quote from the story is testament to this.
After years of watching her daughter suffer, the lady appreciates God’s intervention in allowing the pea that brought her daughters health. The writer shows a relationship between nature and mankind using the analogy of the pea and the sick girl. For the girl, death was certain. Things only changed with the appearance of the pea. While she drew her strength from it, the pea also needed to be propped up by the girl’s mother to ensure it did not fall down since it had a fragile stem. After adding the prop, the pea developed into a fully grown plant. It formed leaves which spread into the young girl’s window. In the same breadth, the young girl was not drawn back by her frail state immediately she saw the pea growing. She draws inspiration from this and declares that she will also grow into a big girl at the appointed time. This resurgence is pegged on her desire to sit up and hug the leaves immediately the sun rose.
In addition, the use of a poor woman and her daughter is another hall mark of Biedermeier literature. This is due to their tendency to focus on the petit-bourgeois when conveying important messages. This was in a bid to propagate their culture, which the romanticists denounced (Gillespie, Engeld & Dieterle 387). From the onset of the story, there are undertones of this culture since the boy comes from the lower class of the society. This is because boys of his age from the affluent families would focus on education instead of playing with a peashooter. The concept is further advanced in his other publication, Anna Hansen. In this story, a mother gives birth to a boy, but discards him for the graces of the counts court. In her time there, she raised the counts son as if he were her own, while her true son cried herself to sleep due to troubling pangs of hunger. As Anna struggled to ensure the counts son received all the necessary education and attention that was vital to his growth, her son was cared for by a family of peasants, who did not have enough for themselves.
The difference between the two boys is evidenced during Anna’s old age. She goes to visit the counts son and received cold treatment from the boy she had nursed. Her son, on the other hand accepted his adopted family as his own, remaining obedient always and working hard to contribute to the meager resources the family could muster. This state of contentment is the main point Andersen wants to pass across. By accepting his fate, Anne’s son strives to better his life and that of his family and even dies with his foster father in an accident while they were out at sea. When his mother goes to look for him, she is given the news of death and sets off for her home on foot. She is haunted by his son’s spirit for a year, before she finally goes to church to confess her sins.
Summarily, the author uses the figure of a small pea to express the importance of individual virtue (Gillespie et al. 387). He encourages people to be content with the provisions they receive or circumstances they experience. This should not be mistaken as an advocacy for laziness; rather, he admonishes people to strive for a fulfilling new life by being a positive influence to others. The fifth pea may be used to symbolize the fact that the circumstances we find ourselves in are arbitrary on a majority of occasions. He warns against complacency, as exhibited by the peas, who thought that the world was green just because their pod was green. He also used Anne’s son who was small and ugly, whom she gave up to teach her an important lesson in life. His insignificance at the beginning of the story is transformed into usefulness at the end, since he teaches her the concept of true love. Like the diminutive pea, the boy’s spirit guides her mother on the path towards appreciating the provisions she has, thereby becoming content for the first time in life.
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