The Soldier, The Witch, and the Tinderbox




It is the story of a soldier who is offered gold by a witch to go in to a dead tree and retrieve a tinderbox for her, but the soldier can take all the copper, silver, and gold he wishes, so long as he has a checkered apron the witch lends him.  When the Soldier is pulled from the tree, he asks what the tinderbox is for but the witch does not tell him, so the soldier cuts her head off.  From this the soldier became a rich member of society, and hears tales of the kings daughter, who no one has seen but the king himself, and the fable relating to her protection, is that she will marry a common soldier. Needless to say, the soldier is intrigued by her, but cannot find a way to meet her.  After he runs out of his gold that he took from the hollow tree, he pulls out the tinderbox that he had saved, and lit it so he would see.  However, when he struck the match, a guardian of the treasure, a dog, showed up and would grant his every wish.  Using these dogs, he was able to see the princess every night, but the Queen knew something was odd with her daughter, so she tried many things to see what was happening, eventually she tied a bag of flower to her daughter, with a little hole in it, so as to leave a trail to where she was going.  When morning came, the soldier was arrested and was told he was to be hung the next day.  People came to see him, and he convinced a shoemaker to go and retrieve the tinderbox from his home.  Just before he was to be hung, he asked of the king to have a pipe, for it would be the last one of this world.  The king could not refuse, so the tinderbox was struck three times, and all the guardians of the treasures came to save the soldier.  Between the awe and fear of the dogs the king and queen pronounced that he would marry the princess.


Character Analysis:


The soldier of the story is a very selfish fellow. He gives examples of this throughout the story, starting with the witch’s offer of gold, most people would say no to the witch and leave because she can not be trusted, but the soldiers greed allows him to go in to the tree and retrieve his riches. He show’s his selfishness again, when the witch refuses to tell him what the tinderbox is for, and decides to cut off her head. While this may be regarded as curiosity and prevention of mischief, the soldier would use the box for his own intentions. As the story progresses, his intentions are pure, as he just wants to see the princess, and wishes she was his bride, but the dog is essentially kidnapping the princess each night. The Queen does not like this dog taking her daughter, and devises a way to catch the person responsible and bring them to justice. Through the wits of the Queen, the soldier is caught and is sentenced to death, but through his own cunning and trickery convinces the king to allow him his pipe, and from this the soldier is able to summon the dog guardians, allowing him to be freed, and making the town be fearful of him and pronounce him as their king. Without the temptation of the tinderbox, the soldier was probably a decent man, who had little money to his name, but the opportunities of the box outweighed the moral consequences and he believed it to be the wise choice to use the tinderbox for his own good.

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