Fans of biographical criticism have a luxurious source in the works of Hans Christian Andersen. Like Lewis Carroll (and, to a lesser extent, Kenneth Grahame), Andersen was near-pathologically uncomfortable in the company of adults. Of course, all three had to work and interact with adults, but all three really related well to children and their simpler worlds. Andersen, for a time, ran a puppet theater and was incredibly popular with children, and, of course, he wrote an impressive body of fairy tales which have been produced in thousands of editions since the 19th century. Most everyone has read or at least knows the titles of many of Andersen's works:"The Ugly Duckling," "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Nightengale," "The Little Mermaid," "The Match Girl," and many others. Though, as with most folk and fairy tales, they strike adult re-readers much differently than they do young first-time readers. Charming tales of ducks who feel awkward because they don't fit in, only to exult in the discovery that they are majestic swans, gives child readers clearly-identifiable messages: don't tease people because they're different; don't fret about your being different because someday you'll discover what special gifts you have. A closer, deeper look at many of Andersen's tales (including "The Ugly Duckling," which is not on our reading list), reveals a darker, harder, more painful thread. People are often cruel and unfeeling, love is torturous--in general, the things of the material world cause suffering. There is often a happy ending, but it's not conventionally happy. Characters are rewarded, but only after they manage (often through death) to transcend the rigors of the mortal world.
According to the text, what messages can adult readers obtain from Andersen’s tales, such as “The Ugly Duck”?