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‘The Red Shoes’ is an imaginary and unreal story related by Hans Christian Anderson.
Anderson makes effective use of fantasy to teach a moral lesson. He builds up the story in such a way that the reader does not care for the validity of the incidents. The moral lesson is that the proud and the disobedient must suffer.
Disobedience is a sin, and according to the Christian belief it is what started the demise in the heavens above, so anybody who commits it must suffer. Whatever sins man commits in his lifetime he is punished for them. If only he repents for his sins can he be forgiven and at least he can die in peace. God forgives them only when they repent for their sins.
The story also presents another facts of the Christian belief about sin and punishment, which is based on the strict principles of repentance and forgiveness.
In the story Karen is a poor but beautiful girl. At the death of her mother, a rich old lady takes her to her home and brings her up. The widow of the cobbler gave Karen a pair of red shoes, which she wore for the first time on her mother’s funeral. The old lady who adopted Karen disliked, the red shoes greatly because of Karen’s obsession for them and so she burnt them. Then once Karen saw the princess wearing beautiful red shoes. Her love for these shoes got re-ignited; she liked them a lot indeed.
Karen grew up to be a beautiful damsel. She was to be made the member of the church. Her foster mother, the rich old lady bought her a lovely pair of shoes incidentally those shoes were also red in color. This fact has escaped the old lady’s notice, but Karen found them to be exactly what she yearned for. She went to church in those red shoes.
She thought that everyone in the church was looking at her shoes. She wore them at the time of confirmation, which was not the proper occasion to wear them. Karen felt very proud of them. She even forgot to pray in the church when the old lady came to know about it she told Karen not to wear those shoes in future but once again she went to the church wearing those shoes. This accounted for the sin of disobedience she committed.
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"The Red Shoes." 123HelpMe.com. 06 Apr 2020
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An old soldier, at the gates of the church, gazed at those red shoes and remarked that they were fine dancing shoes. When Karen came out of the church the shoes actually began to dance. She was put back to carriage with great difficulty. Time passed on and one day the old lady become ill. There was a big ball in the town. Karen went to the ball wearing those shoes instead of tending to the kid old lady. Moreover she disobeyed the lady by wearing the red shoes again. Karen felt by wearing the red shoes she looks more pretty and beautiful. But when she began to dance her shoes took her away through fields and into the forest. She saw an angel who cursed her. It seemed that the shoes cast some magical effect on her and they took her dancing to different places. While dancing she went to the house of the executioner, she requested him to cut off her feet with red shoes. She also requested not to cut off hr head because she wanted to repent over her sins. The man did so. She confessed all her sins before that man. The man made for her wooden feet and crutches. He also taught her a psalm so that she may repent.
Karen now started a life of repentance. But whenever she thought of going to the church, she saw red shoes dancing in the air before her eyes. The old lady at last died. Karen was left all alone in the world. She became a maidservant in priests house. She now repented for her sins day and night. She prayed to god for mercy. Her prayers were heard and she was forgiven.
One fine morning she felt as if she was praying in the church. She felt a strange of joy in her heart. She died in peace and went to a peaceful place where no body questioned her about her red shoes.
Karen was a vain and proud girl in the beginning. She did what she liked and did not obey her guardians. God punished her for her sins. Later she repented and was forgiven. The story is a fantasy and has a moral that evil is punished and repentance is rewarded in the end. While reading this story we realize that the incidence merely form the pedestal on which the moral of the story stand. The moral shows us the fine yet strict balance between sin, punishment, repentance and forgiveness stand. Thus the red shoes in the story represent the material wealth and the human lust for it. Man involves himself in the acquisition of such goods and forgets that he is thinking in sin. This brings him way from God but if her repents god forgives him.
Thus the story is a fine odyssey in realm of faith. Anderson has given a very vivid picture of he Christian belief regarding sin and forgiveness.