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Shadow

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Shadow
Shadow Pedersen

Real Name

Unknown

First Appearance

New Fairy Tales, Second Volume, First Collection (1847)

Created by

Hans Christian Andersen

Origin

Once a learned man from the northern regions of Europe went on a voyage south. One night, he sat on his terrace, while the fire behind him cast his shadow on the opposite balcony. As he was sitting there, resting, the man was amused to observe how the shadow followed his every movement, as if he really did sit upon the opposing balcony. When he finally grew tired and went to sleep, he imagined the shadow would likewise retire in the house across the street. The next morning however, the man found to his surprise that he in fact had lost his shadow overnight. As a new shadow slowly grew back from the tip of his toes, the man did not give the incident another thought, returned to northern Europe, and took up writing again. Several years passed by until one night there was a knock at his door. To his surprise, it was his shadow, the one he lost years before in Africa, and now stood upon his doorstep, almost completely human in appearance. Astonished by his sudden reappearance, the learned man invited him into his house, and soon the two sat by the fireplace, as the shadow related how he had come to be man.

The learned man was calm and gentle by nature. His main object of interest lay with the good, the beautiful and the true, a subject of which he wrote often but was of no interest to anyone else. The shadow said his master did not understand the world, that he had seen it as truly was, and how evil some men really were.

The shadow then grew richer and fatter over the years, while the writer grew poorer and paler. Finally he had become so ill that his former shadow proposed a trip to a health resort offering to foot the bill as well, but on condition that he could act as the master now, and the writer would pretend to be his shadow. As absurd as this suggestion sounded, the learned man eventually agreed and together they took the trip, the shadow now as his master. At the resort, the shadow met with a beautiful princess, and as they danced and talked with each other each night, the princess fell in love with him.

When they were about to be married, the shadow offered his former master a luxurious position at the palace, on condition that he now became his own shadow permanently. The writer immediately refused and threatened to tell the princess everything, but the shadow had him arrested. Feigning his distraught, the shadow met with the princess and told her:

"I have gone through the most terrible affair that could possibly happen; only imagine, my shadow has gone mad; I suppose such a poor, shallow brain, could not bear much; he fancies that he has become a real man, and that I am his shadow."
"How very terrible,” cried the princess; "is he locked up?"
"Oh yes, certainly; for I fear he will never recover."
"Poor shadow!" said the princess; "it is very unfortunate for him; it would really be a good deed to free him from his frail existence; and, indeed, when I think how often people take the part of the lower class against the higher, in these days, it would be policy to put him out of the way quietly."

When the shadow wed the princess later that night, the learned man was already executed.

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