I hadn’t come across this story by Hans Christian Andersen before, so it was nice to read it this week for this feature.
It tells the story of a beetle who is very full of himself. He lives in the imperial stables. When the Emperor rewards his favourite horse with some golden shoes, the beetle feels that he should also be given golden shoes because he’s just as important (in his eyes!) The blacksmith refuses to give the beetle golden shoes. The beetle, feeling insulted, leaves to go out into the world to earn his fortune.
The beetle meets other creatures, like a ladybird who believes their garden is beautiful. The beetle doesn’t agree because the home doesn’t have a dung heap. He doesn’t appreciate a caterpillar’s excitement at turning intpo a butterfly, because he’s already got wings so he of course, is far superior. The beetle encounters many more animals until he finds a dung heap that has other beetles in. The beetle still boasts about his old life in the imperial stable. The beetle ends up marrying, but not long after he’s bored. He abandons his wife and his new children, ready to explore the world again.
The beetle goes through a lot and finds himself back in the imperial stable. His strange thinking seems to justify his behaviour and this is what makes this fairy tale a little different from similar tales. The beetle really doesn’t learn anything and has no idea about how conceited he really is!