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A swan egg rolls from its nest into a duck nest. When it hatches, it is clear that the baby swan is different from all his adoptive siblings and gets teased and picked on as a result; they call him names such as ugly duckling. The "ugly duckling" goes off on his own and spots a swan-bevy a short distance off. Wishing he could be as beautiful as they, he catches sight of his own reflection and sees that he is indeed a beautiful swan.
"The Ugly Duckling" is a literary Fairy Tale written by Danish poet Hans Christian Andersen. It has been adapted by Disney twice and the Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev wrote a score for a Ballet of the story in 1914. It is one of the few Hans Christian Andersen stories where nobody dies.
- All Is Well That Ends Well
- An Aesop: Usually presumed to be about self-image or bullying or something.
- Author Appeal: Andersen was gangly, unattractive as a child and was bullied when young. The whole becomming a beautiful swan thing was probably author appeal. Also see Royal Blood.
- Author Avatar: The ugly duckling is said to based on Hans Christian Andersen himself.
- Beautiful All Along
- Beauty Equals Goodness
- I Just Want to Be Beautiful
- Interspecies Adoption
- Kids Are Cruel
- Morally-Ambiguous Ducktorate: Played with. The ducklings aren't cruel as such, they just don't really consider the feelings of others.
- Never Accepted in His Hometown: Only once he leaves does the Ugly Duckling find acceptance. Possibly a Broken Aesop in that respect...
- Royal Blood: Hans Christian Andersen believed he was actually the illegitimate son of Christian Frederick, the Crown Prince of Denmark. The ugly duckling's acceptance by the swan-bevy was symbolic of Andersen's desire to be accepted by the royal family.
- The Runt At the End: The titular character.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: For all the story's emotional intensity of the cygnet feeling rejected in the Disney version, he only has to endure it for a few minutes before a mother swan takes him in.
- True Beauty Is on the Inside
- Swans-a-Swimming: The ugly duckling's Happy Ending.
- Sweet and Sour Grapes: The titular "duckling" is "ugly" by duck standards, but by accepting this, he realizes that he is a fine example of something else.