Although very short, this well-known story by Danish poet and writer Hans Christian Andersen is one of the saddest Christmas stories ever told. A poor little girl freezes to death in the snow as everyone else is warm inside their houses getting ready for a big New Year’s dinner. Sadly, child labor and people freezing to death still take place in the world today.
Pre-Intermediate Vocabulary Help / Exercises
General Comments on the Story
Andersen trained for the theater when he was young. Although he never performed as an actor, this was to help him greatly later in life. As well as writing stories, s of the time often performed public readings of their works. George Griffen, an American , wrote of an Andersen performance of “The Little Match Seller”:
He is a remarkably fine reader, and has often been compared in this respect to (Charles) Dickens — Dickens was in truth a reader, but I am to think that Andersen’s manner is far more and . Both of these men have always read to crowded houses. Dickens voice was perhaps better suited for the stage than the reading desk. It was stronger and louder than Andersen’s, but nothing like as and musical. I heard Dickens read the scene of Little Nell in New York, and I was moved to tears, but I knew that the author himself was reading the story; but when I heard Andersen read the story of the Little Girl with the Matches, I did not think of the author at all, but like a child, un of everything around me.
It is said that the story was written to call attention to the ing being experienced by many children in Europe at the time. In addition to Andersen’s acting talent, one of the reasons that he was able to move people to tears when reading it aloud may be that he felt so strongly about its message. The most notable thing about the story is its powerful . The story is told from a omniscient , and is unusual in that there is almost no . There are only two sets of “spoken” words in the whole story, and these don’t occur until near the very end. The first is when the little girl cries out to the vision of her dead grandmother. The second is the suggestion that those who find the body the next morning can think of nothing more to say than: She tried to warm herself. This could well be why, when Disney decided to produce an animated film based on the story in 2006, they chose to make it as a silent film. Interestingly, the first ever film of the story (made in 1902) was also silent. If you are interested, you can watch both of these below:
Our source for the story was a children’s book called Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, available as an from Project Gutenberg here.
(n: candle pl candles) Wax that has been formed into a stick or another shape and has a string in the middle that can be burned to give light. 3000
(n: carriage pl carriages) 1. A horse-drawn vehicle with four wheels that is used to carry people. 2. [British] A separate section of a train. A railway carriage. 4000
(v: freeze, freezes, froze, frozen, freezing) 1. To make or be very cold. (หนาวมาก) 2. To be become a hard substance (such as ice) because of cold. (กลายเป็นน้ำแข็ง)
(adj: frozen) 1. Turned into or covered with ice; affected by long and severe cold. A frozen lake. 2. Preserved by freezing. Frozen food. (ซึ่งเป็นน้ำแข็ง) 2000
(n: goose pl geese) A web-footed bird that swims like a duck, but is larger and has a longer neck. (ห่าน) 4000
(n: match pl matches) 1. A short thin piece of wood with a special tip that produces fire when it is rubbed against something else. He lit a match. (ไม้ขีดไฟ) 2. Someone or something that is equal to or as good as another person or thing. She has finally met her match at arguing. (คนที่เท่าเทียมกัน) 3. A contest between two or more players or teams. A soccer match. (การแข่งขัน) 1000
(n: misery pl miseries) [something that causes] Great suffering or unhappiness; a very unhappy or painful time or experience. The war brought misery to thousands of refugees. The last years of her life were a misery. (ความทุกข์; ความทุกข์ยาก) 3000
(n: pain pl pains) The physical feeling caused by sickness, injury, or mental or emotional hurt. He felt a sharp pain in his back. It caused him pain to talk about his wife's death. (ความเจ็บปวด)
(adj: painful; painless) Causing pain. A painful injury. (ซึ่งก่อให้เกิดความเจ็บปวด) Without pain. Painless childbirth. (ซึ่งไม่เจ็บปวด) 2000
(v: roast, roasts, roasted, roasting) To cook food [such as chicken, potatoes, or beef] with dry heat in an oven or over a fire. (ย่าง ; อบ) 4000
(v: rub, rubs, rubbed, rubbing) To move something [such as your hand or an object] back and forth along the surface of something else while pressing. (คลึง) 2000
(v: shiver, shivers, shivered, shivering) To move back and forth or from side to side slightly because you are cold, afraid, etc. (สั่น) 5000
(n: soul pl souls) The spirit; the non-physical part of a person that is believed to give life to the body and in many religions is believed to live forever. (วิญญาณ) 3000
(n: author pl authors) The person who has written something; someone who writes books or stories, especially a person who has written many books or stories. I enjoyed the book, but I can't remember the name of its author. 3000
(n: diplomat pl diplomats) A person who represents his or her country's government in a foreign country. 5000
(adj: superb) Extremely good; excellent or brilliant in a very noticeable way. (ดีเลิศ) 3000
(adj: impressive) Deserving attention, admiration, or respect; making a good impression. (น่าประทับใจ)
(n: impression pl impressions) The effect or influence that something or someone has on a person's thoughts or feelings. (ความประทับใจ)
(v: impress, impresses, impressed, impressing) To make someone admire or be interested in you in some way. (ประทับใจ) 2000
(adj: eloquent) Having or showing the ability to use language clearly and effectively. (7000)
(adj: mellow) (of sound, color, light etc) Pleasantly rich, full, or soft; not strong or unpleasant. (กลมกล่อม) 7000
(n: deathbed pl deathbeds) The bed in which a person dies or is about to die. The family gathered around her deathbed.
(idiom: on one's deathbed) In the last few hours before death. While he lay on his deathbed, he told his lawyer that he wanted to give all his money to charity. Often used figuratively to say that someone is very close to dying or very sick. The old man acts as if he is on his deathbed, but he looks healthy enough to me.
(v: weep, weeps, wept, weeping) To cry because you are very sad or are feeling some other strong emotion. (ยม) 5000
(adj: conscious) Awake and able to understand what is happening around you.
(adj: unconscious) Not awake and able to understand what is happening around you, especially because of an injury, drug, etc. 2000
(v: suffer, suffers, suffered, suffering) 1. To experience pain, illness, or injury. He died instantly and did not suffer. (ทนทุกข์ทรมาน) 2. To experience something unpleasant such as defeat, loss, or damage. Our country suffered a great deal during the war. (ประสบความทุกข์) 2000
(n: imagery, noncount) Language where mental images of a scene are created using descriptive words, especially making use of the human senses (sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch). Used to create a sense of the atmosphere, emotions or feelings of a situation. (ภาพ) 2000
(n: third person) In literature, a writing style where a story is told by someone who is not a character, using 'he', 'she', 'it' and 'they' as subject pronouns when describing what characters do. The writer may choose for the knowledge of the third person to be limited (in which the reader enters the mind of only one character at a time) or omniscient (all-knowing, where the thoughts of every character are open to the reader).
(n: point of view) A way of looking at or thinking about something; viewpoint. Even if you disagree with her, you should try to see things from her point of view. (มุมมอง)
In literature, the position of the storyteller (narrator) in relation to the story being told. The two most common points of view in short stories are 'first person' [where the narrator is a character in the story] and 'third person' [where the narrator is not part of the story].
(n: dialogue pl dialogues) The things that are said by the characters in a story, movie, play, etc. 5000
(n: version pl versions) 1. A story or description that is different in some way from another person's story or description. The boy gave his version of what had happened. (เรื่องราว) 2. A form of something (such as a product) that is different in some way from other forms. A new version of the software should be available soon. (รุ่น) 2000
(n: e-book pl e-books) A book whose contents are in an electronic format so that it can be downloaded and read.