The Emperor’s Newer Clothes
March 3, 2008
When I was fairly young, I read Han Christian Anderson’s story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and was fairly impressed by it. Parents should be careful of what they allow their children to read, as some works of literature may have a harmful effect on the child’s later life.
When I looked up this story on the Internet, I discovered that Anderson took this story from earlier folktales. In fact, this story might be described as an archetype.
Some of the archetypes are older; some are newer. Here are some of the older archetypal versions of Anderson’s story. Recently I discovered a newer one that runs as a slightly altered version of Anderson’s ending for the story.
His story ends as follows:
“But he doesn’t have anything on!” said a small child.
“Good Lord, let us hear the voice of an innocent child!” said the father, and whispered to another what the child had said.
“A small child said that he doesn’t have anything on!”
Finally everyone was saying, “He doesn’t have anything on!”
The emperor shuddered, for he knew that they were right, but he thought, “The procession must go on!” He carried himself even more proudly, and the chamberlains walked along behind carrying the train that wasn’t there.
Of course, Anderson lived in Denmark, a fairly gentle, tolerant, and peaceful country. Another ending occurs in Oceania.
In this ending, late that night, after the Emperor’s procession, the secret police come to the little child’s house. He is forced to witness the torture and death of several members of his family. Then he is tortured until he confesses that the Emperor’s New Clothes were indeed splendid.
That weekend, the little boy’s village is ethnically cleansed and renamed “New Clothes City.”