Monday, November 29, 2021

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E.T.A. Hoffmann

🎄 The Nutcracker is famously known as a Christmas classic, both as children tale, and ballet. I have been ignorant of it, though, till several years before, since Christmas here isn't celebrated as festive as in the western part of the world. Christmas for our family is more about going to church on Christmas Eve and having more cakes to eat, while listening to Christmas music; with a little gift exchanges among friends or Christmas decorations in the background. Christmas tales are definitely not our tradition. With that deficiency, I plunged into this tale for the first time in my life.

🎄 It follows a seven year old girl, Marie Stahlbaum and her brother Fritz, who get as their Christmas presents, a clockwork castle with mechanical people - handmade by their godfather Drosselmeier, a clock maker.

🎄 They soon get bored by it, though, so Marie shifts her attention to another present: an ugly nutcracker, and she is fond of it.

🎄 When the clock strikes midnight, a bunch of mice came to the house, led by a huge seven-headed mouse - the Mouse King, and suddenly all the toys/dolls inside the glass cabinet became alive. Led by the nutcracker, they all involved in a battle against the mice.

🎄 The next morning Drosselmeier told the children a story about Princess Pirlipat and Mouse Queen. Long story short, the princess was cursed by Mouse Queen, and the only cure is Krakatuk - the hardest nut on earth - cracked and handed on a certain ritual by a man who would become her husband. A young man called Drosselmeier was good at cracking nuts, but unfortunately he mis-executed the ritual, so the curse moved on him instead. That's how he became the ugly nutcracker toy which is now inhabited the Stahlbaums' glass cabinet.

🎄 Thanks to little Marie's selfless and unconditional love towards the nutcracker, the curse is finally lifted, and the ugly toy turns into a handsome real person of Herr Drosselmeier, the godfather's nephew.

🎄 It's not really a bad tale, really, as it inspires children to accept people, despite of their appearance. Yet, I found part of the tale rather disturbing. How can Marie - the 7 year old little girl - becomes a fiancée of a young man, to be married in one year, to become the queen of the doll kingdom? I mean, seven y.o...!

🎄 In the end, despite of the above unsettling part and (maybe) the mediocre translation of the edition I read, I think I can see why this tale becomes classic. I will perhaps love it more if I've had read it as a child. Still, I doubt how I would have reacted on the marrying part; my parents would have never read it for me, for sure!

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?