Everything in the Right Place by Hans Christian Andersen
In Everything in the Right Place by Hans Christian Andersen we have the theme of cruelty, arrogance, paralysis, kindness and selfishness. Taken from his The Complete Fairy Tales collection the reader realises from the beginning of the story that Anderson may be exploring the theme of cruelty. The baron attempts to push the goose girl into the river because he feels like he can do so. This may be significant as it suggests that the baron is not a man of the people but is arrogant. He may be of nobility but there is nothing noble in his actions. It is only through the generosity of the pedlar that the goose girl does not fall into the river. A simple action that is worth many praises. Praises that would usually be bestowed on the baron by his friends who are like the baron, selfish. The baron even goes as far as making fun of the pedlar but as time passes the pedlar returns to the mansion and becomes the new baron. Taking the goose girl as his wife. No longer is debauchery tolerated in the mansion and the pedlar and the goose girl live happily with their family.
What is also interesting is how calm the pedlar remains throughout the story. He does not fight back when the baron makes fun of him; rather he sells his wares and moves onto the next town. Though the reader suspects that the pedlar has decided that he will be coming back to the mansion. Knowing that the baron can ill afford to live the life he is living. If anything the baron abuses his position of authority. Those in authority should help those less fortunate. To lend them a hand in life so that they too may prosper but the baron is too selfish to think of others. It is as though everybody is afraid of the baron and this is something that he thrives on. He is literally the king of his own castle and does not see why he should change his ways. He is content with life even if those who are answerable to him aren’t.
The willow tree that the pedlar grew from a branch is symbolically important. The flute that is carved from the branch of the tree plays a song which allows those who are servants to sit at the top of the table while banishing the ignoble nobility (men like the original baron). The title of the story may also be seen to be important as at first it is more wishful than anything else but when the pedlar marries the goose girl a new reality has dawned. The phrase has been given an appropriate meaning. The pedlar and the goose girl know they are in the right place living in the mansion and being married with children. The fact that the pedlar’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are of solid footing highlights to the reader just how decent a man the pedlar (and the goose girl) was. In reality Andersen may be suggesting that one should live their life to the best of their ability. Causing no harm to another person. Work hard and you will prosper like the pedlar and under no circumstances should a person make fun of those who are not as fortunate as themselves. Tables have a habit of turning. Which was the case for the original baron. He fell out of favour because he respected nobody and thought that the world was his and his alone to rule.
People would do well to live their lives as the pedlar and his wife lived theirs. They may have had a vast fortune but they were not exuberant in the spending. They kept their life as simple as possible with the pedlar reading his bible and the goose girl spinning. They also appear to have treated people as they would like to be treated. Showing kindness to all they came across. Though long dead their actions and memory are not forgotten by the next generation of their family. Even in death they have longevity. Just as the willow tree does. Whereas the original baron is long forgotten and unmissed. If anything the pedlar and the baron were the opposite of each other. One thought of others while the other thought only of himself. Highlighting that one does not have to be born into nobility to be of noble character.