In a contemporary interpretation of this 19th century fairytale, we come to see the parallels between what has become of American society today and the society of Andersen’s story.
In Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” the devil forms a magic mirror that falls to the earth and shatters into fragments. Rather than reveal the beauty and the good of people, the magic mirror reflects all vile aspects of its objects. The story’s antagonists weaponize the objects of the mirror.
As headmaster of a troll school, the devil carries the pieces of said mirror throughout the world, placing it in schools. At the arrival of the titular Snow Queen, in the neighborhood of protagonists Kay and Gerda, a piece of the devil’s mirror turns Kay against his beloved neighbor. He can only see the ugliness in her once the mirror shard is lodged in his eye. He later leaves with the Snow Queen, his worldview wholly changed by the mirror to which she has introduced him.
To America’s bipartisan society, this 19th-century fairytale serves as an ironic satire of social reality.
Authored by a Danish folklore icon, the plot serves as a synopsis of the entirety of American politics, both in the present and in the past.
Anderson’s fictional society suffers from chronic institutional miseducation regarding race, religion, and creed. America’s inability to properly atone for its past was generated long before the state of the American public today, before the official incorporation of education institutions. Earlier American education institutions were founded under the umbrella of that Imperialistic control in the 17th century and did not evolve from their heritage.
America’s institutional flaws, thus, are the carryover of Imperialism that was never adequately purged from American thought. Although freed from sovereign rule and legislation, the nation did not move further by releasing its society of the same caste and honor culture; instead, it embraced a reformed education that executed in living practice the doctrine of the Constitutional letter.
This “magic mirror” of American politics focuses on all that is dark and twisted about America and American demographics. These shards were distributed by the “devil” of Imperialism in the same way that the devil character of the Snow Queen disperses his mirror to his pupils. Actors of violent intent in New America continued to spread these shards through educational institutions and an abuse of the arts. American culture, therefore, was altered, turning one neighbor against the other.
The first wars between the tribes were fought before the ratification of the American Constitution. Queen Mary’s War of 1702-1707, as the North American theater of the War of Spanish Succession, comes to mind. The arrival of the first slaves came through the European interest in the Atlantic Slave Trade. This education, this societal sin, passed through America from the institution of its former monarchy. The Snow Queen had visited and turned to ice the prospects that the founders had hoped for.
These issues were carried from the social flaws of a previous European nativity, and ensued during a domination war on American soil at the dusk of the monarchical era. The new institution, rather than magnify what is beautiful about the American idea, rather than reflect upon what makes America unique as a juvenile nation, with the power to revolutionize and overcome the shortcomings of its forebears, chose to reflect on all dark imagery of this monarchy constrained past.
America’s self-image internalizes violence, embraces the sins of the past as mutually inclusive of the mindset of the present. Americans, as a whole, are chronically negative and steeped in the trauma of the ravages of origin. This disposition is cyclic defeatism and a state of being free in law but never free in thought.
This state of mind is the devil’s mirror, with its pieces scattered across the states, the former Colonies perpetuating the social ills of the Old World that the new had sought to escape. Society became thus inert and repeated the sins of the European forefathers.
This mirror is a glass box that must be broken from American society as independent and self-defining for the future to stand in contrast to this nearly tricentennial cycle.