“The Ugly Duckling” is a story about a swan who doesn’t know he is a swan. He is hatched with a brood of ducks and, being a swan, is chastised for looking different. All of his so-called brothers and sisters, his mother duck and all of the other barn animals treat him with disdain. The ugly duckling swan leaves his duck family and eventually meets up with some swans that immediately gravitate to him. It is at this point that he actually sees his reflection in the water and realizes he is a beautiful swan.
“The Ugly Duckling” is a good example of peer pressure and consensus. Everyone tells the ugly duckling he is ugly; he accepts this as fact. His mother duck tries to overlook his different appearance and love him for who he is, yet even she is persuaded to chastise him because everyone else is doing so. The ugly duckling eventually leaves this situation and meets up with some geese who also look at him as being ugly. The ugly duckling refers to himself as being ugly. It isn’t until he meets up with a group of swans who tell him how beautiful he is, that he sees his reflection in the water and then realizes he is a beautiful swan. The swan had very low self esteem, that was taught to him. This story reflects a negative aspect of our basic human nature which is to look as something different as being ugly, or wrong.