Treasure Trove A Collection of ICSE Short Stories Workbook Answers Chapter 7 Notes The Little Match Girl – ICSE Class 10, 9 English


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About the Author

Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark, on April 2, 1805. Andersen achieved worldwide fame for writing innovative and influential fairy tales. Many of his stories, including “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Princess and the Pea,” remain classics of the genre. He died in Copenhagen on August 4, 1875.

While the Andersen family was not wealthy, young Hans Christian was educated in boarding schools for the privileged. The circumstances of Andersen’s education have fuelled speculation that he was an illegitimate member of the Danish royal family. These rumours have never been substantiated.

In 1819, Andersen traveled to Copenhagen to work as an actor. He returned to school after a short time, supported by a patron named Jonas Collin. He began writing during this period, at Collin’s urging, but was discouraged from continuing by his teachers.

Andersen’s work first gained recognition in 1829, with the publication of a short story entitled “A Journey on Foot from Holmen’s Canal to the East Point of Amager.” He followed this with the publication of a play, a book of poetry and a travelogue. The promising young author won a grant from the king, allowing him to travel across Europe and further develop his body of work. A novel based on his time in Italy, The Improvisatore, was published in 1835. The same year, Andersen began producing fairy tales.

Despite his success as a writer up to this point, Andersen did not initially attract attention for his writing for children. His next novels, O.T. and Only a Fiddler, remained critical favorites. Over the following decades, he continued to write for both children and adults, penning several autobiographies, travel narratives and poetry extolling the virtues of the Scandinavian people. Meanwhile, critics and consumers overlooked volumes including the now-classic stories “The Little Mermaid” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” In 1845, English translations of Andersen’s folktales and stories began to gain the attention of foreign audiences. Andersen forged a friendship with acclaimed British novelist Charles Dickens, whom he visited in England in 1847 and again a decade later. His stories became English-language classics and had a strong influence on subsequent British children’s authors, including A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter. Over time, Scandinavian audiences discovered Andersen’s stories, as did audiences in the United States, Asia and across the globe. In 2006, an amusement park based on his work opened in Shanghai. His stories have been adapted for stage and screen, including a popular animated version of “The Little Mermaid.”

Andersen sustained a serious injury in 1872 after falling from bed in his Copenhagen home. His final publication, a collection of stories, appeared the same year.

Around this time, he started to show signs of the liver cancer that would take his life. The Danish government began commemorating Andersen’s life and work before his death. Andersen died on August 4, 1875, in Copenhagen.

About the Story

‘The Little Match Girl’ or ‘The little girl with the matchsticks’ is a short story by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen. The story, about a dying child’s dreams and hope, was first published in 1845. It has been adapted to various media, including an animated short film, a television musical, and an animated virtual reality story called “Allumette”.

‘The Little Match Girl’ is possibly one of the saddest holiday stories ever told. This story, by Hans Christian Andersen, is about a little girl who was sent out to sell matches on New Year’s Eve. No one has bought any of her matches, and so she is afraid her father will beat her if she goes home empty handed. She ends up huddled in a corner lighting match after match. With each match she imagines a beautiful scene. In one match she sees her recently deceased grandmother who takes the little girl to heaven with her. In the morning, the little girl is found frozen to death.

On a cold New Year’s Eve, a poor young girl tries to sell matches in the street. She is already shivering from cold and early hypothermia, and she is walking barefoot having lost her shoes. Still, she is too afraid to go home, because her father will beat her for not selling any matches, and also as the cracks in the house can’t keep out the cold wind. The girl takes shelter in a nook or alley and sits down.

The girl lights the matches to warm herself. In their glow she sees several lovely visions, including a Christmas tree and a holiday feast. The girl looks skyward and sees a shooting star, she then remembers her dead grandmother saying that such a falling star means someone is dying and is going to Heaven. As she lights the next match, she sees a vision of her grandmother, the only person to have treated her with love and kindness. She strikes one match after another to keep the vision of her grandmother alive for as long as she can.

After running out of matches the child dies and her grandmother carries her soul to Heaven. The next morning, passers-by find the girl dead in the nook, frozen with a smile on her face, and guess the reason for the burnt-out matches beside her. They feel pity for her, although they had not shown kindness to her before her death. They have no way of knowing about the wonderful visions she saw before her death or how gloriously she and her grandmother are now celebrating the New Year in Heaven


  1. Exposition: The exposition of the story is that the Little Maiden is left out on the streets, on a cold New Years Eve while every one is at home celebrating.
  2. Rising Action: The Rising action of the story is that the Little Maiden can’t return home because she hasn’t sold any matches. She doesn’t have anything to warm her up so she uses the matches to warm her up.
  3. Climax: When the little maiden lights up the matches to warm her up she notices that when she brings the matches close to the wall of one of the houses that it becomes transparent. Then she notices that there is an old sweet lady on the wall. She comes closer and then sees that the lady is her grandmother(who is dead and that is the only person that loved her). When she sees that the old lady is her grandmother she begs her to take her with her because she is suffering to much.
  4. Resolution: At the end of the story the little maiden is found dead by the wall that she found her grandmother and she is also found with a smile on her face. The little maiden leaves with her grandmother(which just means she dies at the end).


The story is a gentle reminder of the value of compassion and charity.
The theme of the story is that this little girl is trying to sell some matches so she can get money to bring back to her family, and it all depends on those matches but then at the end those matches help her to keep warm. The theme of this story has a lot to do with faith and her hope.Her hope is to get out of the cold for a little girl stranded in the cold she has a lot of faith and hope and that is what the author is trying to put out. to never give up hope or faith no matter what your situation bad or good keep thinking positive and never give up.

This story is about man vs. Nature. In the story the girl has to fight the weather but it is so cold. But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall—frozen to death on the last evening of the old year.” And then again we are told,”In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded, and with naked feet.” ..’’She crept along trembling with cold and hunger—a very picture of sorrow, the poor little thing!”

Highlights of Speech/or Summary

“The Little Match Girl” is a sad story about a miserable young girl that touched the heart of many readers. The story begins on a cold winter night in which the snow never  stopped. It was a real, rough and cold dinner.

This small poor girl is trying to sell matches because she was ordered to do so by a strict father. He didn’t allow her to come home until it would not be done, otherwise she would get a beating. She was distracted by appetizing smells spreading from a house where a family was getting ready for New Year. She couldn’t resist the smell of freshly made turkey. The low temperature made it hard for her to be on the outside and she pressed herself against a corner, between two buildings and tucked her feet underneath herself to try to keep warm. The coldness was growing stronger and she couldn’t go home since she didn’t sell any matches. To get warm she decided to light up one match.When she lit each one of them, it pointed to those events that she always dreamed of.

After she light he match it reminded her of a fireplace. After the match burned out the cold came back. She lit up another match and then saw a beautiful set table with a lot of food. The turkey on the table started moving and went towards her but she never came to the girl because the match burned out. She decided to light up another one and saw a decorated Christmas tree and many candles around it. When she reached her hands to touch it the light went out. All of the candles started to rise towards the sky and one star fell down, leaving behind a mark. The girl thought that it meant somebody died and that it was their soul. In that moment she saw her grandma and in order to keep her near she lit up all of the matches. Her grandma took her with her to a place where hunger and coldness were gone. The next morning she was found frozen with a smile on her face. Everybody commented on her attempts to keep herself warm but nobody knew she waited for New Year with the prettiest pictures in her mind.

This is probably one of the saddest Andersen’s fairy tales set in the 19th century describing the unfortunate fate of a young child who is going through difficult times and dying of cold and hunger.


The little Match Girl

The little match girl is a main character. She is a major character in the story because the story is about her. She is also dynamic because she went from being alive to freezing to death. The little maiden at first had a pair of slippers but she lost them when two carriages were rolling down the street dreadfully fast. Then she was bear footed and dirty. “ When she left home she had slippers on, it is true; but they were of no use.They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn; so large were they; and the poop little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street, because of two carriages that rolled by dreadfully fast.”

The little Match Girl has barely anything to keep her warm and is bare-foot. As she walks, she finds herself in a corner between two houses. Unable to continue and afraid to go home for fear of her father, she curls up there in the corner. The girl lights a match to keep her hands warm. When she does, she sees many things that make her feel better. On the last bundle of matches, she sees her grandmother. The girls dies and goes to heaven with her grandmother.

The young girl selling matches is a very determined child. She keeps going even after it’s made clear that she’ll never sell any matches. She’s also very innocent, wandering around without faltering. She doesn’t give up and remains innocent till the end.


Her dad is a minor character in the story. He is static because he doesn’t change. He is in the story because he kicked the girl out and said she could not come back until she sells matches.


The grandmother is a minor character. She is also static. She is there when the girl is dying.


The setting in manly in one spot. She’s is in the city. This story is typically pictured occurring in a large, busy city such as Copenhagen. The main setting of this story is the corner between two houses where this little girl sits huddled together so she can try and stay warm. It is very cold out side. It is like the coldest part of the winter. The story takes place on a late night, the last night of the year. It is snowy and cold, and most families were inside enjoying their meals. The setting clearly reflects the author’s intent on the story. He wanted to create a calm world that was comparable to the girl’s feelings after she settled on the ground in the corner of two houses.” Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening— the last evening of the year” More important are the places that this little girl imagines seeing with each match.

Critical Appreciation

The Little Match Girl is a little girl who was selling matches to earn some money. She had an evil father who beat her when she didn’t earn enough, so she was afraid to go home empty-handed. She lived in a cold attic, full of holes and drafts. The girl was good but miserable. She was freezing because it was poorly dressed and barefoot, and was very very hungry. When she lit a match to warm her up a little bit, she saw the beautiful scenes. First, a warm stove, a delicious goose, and beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Finally, she saw her dead grandmother. Although she did not know, the girl already had died, and the grandmother came after her soul. She took her somewhere where she will always be fed and warm.

The Little Match Girl is told in metaphors and with poetic license. One of the tools the author has used in Match Girl is to contrast everything from class structure to the contrast of emotions. At this time it is hard to think of a child dying, but it is a reality that has been present for quite some time. Those who have it all usually ignore those who beg for just one penny. Anderson’s story serves a good purpose in “reminding people to be charitable and help the poor during the holidays, and hopefully year round, to keep young children from suffering with poverty and death.” This isn’t much of a fairytale, more so a “folk tale for adults. These tales were often told orally during the times when the peasants could not read.

Child abuse was also common during that time. The girl is cold and hungry, she is also abused at home, increasing the pathos and stark reality of the story. As the girl lights her first match, she sees a vision of a large warm iron stove. Hallucinations are one of the symptoms of severe hypothermia which indicates that the match girl is slowly drifting away This shows that before the little girl has reached her fate the signs of mourning are already presenting themselves.                               –

During the Second vision Hans Christian Anderson wrote of a magical New Years Eve Feast that any poor hungry child would be overjoyed to partake in. During that time the poor could only dream of partaking in such an extravagant meal. Salaries were small and for some, times were very hard. This vision addresses how hungry the small girl truly is, and if she doesn’t freeze she shall surely starve.

The Third Vision of the night, only to be seen after the striking of another match, is a magnificent Christmas tree. It is brightly light and beautifully decorated. It was the sort of tree only to be found in a very wealthy home .The little girl then sees a star fall and claims ‘Someone is just dead!’ A Creole superstition states: ‘Shooting-stars are souls escaping from purgatory.’ This is almost as if the three visions before were wishes, but it is also thought, as for the timing of the short story that it either be the young girl’s soul ascending into heaven, or yet the cause for the final vision.

The small girl drew another match, and there her loving grandmother stood before her in the dark of the night, with no reservations, only kindness. The little girl knew that if the match were to run out her grandmother would disappear just like all her other wonderful visions, so in turn she struck the entire rest of the bundle on the wall, we now realize how truly close the small child is to freezing to death. The little girl pleads with her grandmother to take her back to heaven so “she took the little maiden, on her arm, and both flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety—they were with God” Hans Christian Anderson believed this was a happy ending in his book. To relinquish the suffering of a little girl only to be joined with her one true relative and God, but many people don’t understand why a fairy tale would have such a sad ending.

Figurative language is used to contribute to the tone and theme. The overall theme and tone is similar to solitude and dreaming of a better life. The little girl is in solitude when she is lighting the matches and the figurative language directly contributes to this. It is also used to help readers comprehend the characters. Similes and metaphors are used to help you understand the character’s thoughts and actions.Example: “How it blazed, how it burnt! It was a warm, bright flame, like a candle.” “Where the light fell on the wall, there the wall became transparent like a veil.” “ And the matches gave such a brilliant light that it was brighter than at noon-day.” The author uses imagery to provide insight to the little girl and what she is experiencing on that cold night. The reasoning for this is most likely because she is the only character in the story and the story focuses around her actions. The author wanted us to feel what she felt and see what she saw.He clearly shows this by using the senses of sight and feel. Example: “She crept along trembling with cold and hunger…”

There are two symbols in this story. The first is the match, which symbolize warmth and hope. This symbolism is proven by how the child uses the matches to try and keep her hands warm. The second symbol is the cold itself. The cold is a symbol of sheer desperation and pure hopelessness. The cold freezes her feet and ends up killing the girl.

The conflict in the story is Human vs. Nature. Some examples are: “Cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl, bared headed, and with naked feet.” “The little maiden walked on with her tiny naked feet, that were quite red and blue from cold.” The short story was written from the Third Person Omniscient limited point of view. This is justified because we only know the thoughts, actions, and feelings of one character. The narrator does not interact in any events in the story and knows every aspect of the little girl and her only. “… and she held a bundle of them in her hand.” The story takes place on a late night, the last night of the year. It is snowy and cold, and most families were inside enjoying their meals. The setting clearly reflects the author’s intent on the story. He wanted to create a calm world that was comparable to the girl’s feelings after she settled on the ground in the corner of two houses. “Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening— the last evening of the year” The author has used situational irony. This is because the little girl sells matches, which are meant to start fires and keep people warm. However, this girl has no shoes or gloves and is practically freezing to death. There is irony in the fact that the people find the girl and they find her with a smile on her face. This is weird because when people die they don’ die with a smile on their face. They don’t know why she had a smile on her face when she is found dead but we do. The author uses a flashback in the story to clarify the actions that the little girl sees when lighting a match. This essentially helps advance the plot. “ ‘Someone is just dead!’ said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God. She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre there stood the old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love” The short story is about hope and belief in the future, belief that things will get better. In conclusion, Anderson’s short tale is not only a sad holiday story reminding us to give during the season, but a reality check. We all wish for things during the holidays, but for those that have nothing it is more of an actuality. Times may get hard but in remembrance of this small tale, you must be grateful for what you have.


  1. Bitterly: strong and sharp in taste
  2. Apron: protective garment tied over clothes to keep them clean while cooking
  3. Perishing: to disappear, or to die because of harsh conditions or an accident
  4. Misery: great unhappiness
  5. Fancied: not plain, intricate and of high quality *6. polished : to make smooth or glossy
  6. Brass: a yellow alloy, metallic element, used to make items
  7. Vanished: to disappear suddenly
  8. Gauze: finely woven fabric, thin and almost transparent
  9. Halo: circle of light around the head or a religious painting, an aura of glory

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