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"The Shadow" ("Skyggen" in original Danish) is a fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen, first published in 1847.
The story follows a scholar on a voyage south from northern Europe. One day he lost his shadow, and it was gone for some time. Eventually the shadow returned, taking the form of a man, and the learned man sat down to talk with his shadow. In their talks the shadow claimed the man to be too much an idealist, and his view of the world flawed, they soon parted ways once more.
The shadow went on to make himself quite rich, as the learned man barely managed to survive. Finally he had become so ill that his former shadow proposed a trip to a health resort at his expense, but on condition that the writer would pretend to be his shadow. As absurd as this suggestion sounded, the learned man eventually agreed and together they took the trip, the shadow now as his master. There the shadow met a princess who he managed to woo, later as the pair were to be married the shadow asked the learned man to become his shadow permanently, in exchange for a good life with them. The man refused, and threatened to tell the princess of the shadow's origins. The shadow had the man arrested and executed, then going on the live with his princess bride.
Tropes found in "The Shadow":
- The Bad Guy Wins
- Downer Ending
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Subverted. The arrival of the Princess makes things worse.
- Karma Houdini
- Shadow Archetype: Guess. Who.
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids
- Truth in Television: Good doesn't always win.