The Ugly Duckling

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The Ugly Duckling is a well-known fable by Hans Christian Andersen. The moral of the story is that we should not judge based solely on appearance. In modern parlance, an 'ugly duckling' is a metaphor for someone who unattractive, a bit 'different', or whose true worth is not readily apparent.


The duckling, hatched among a mother duck's eggs in a farmyard, is mocked by all others for his homely, ungainly appearance. He finally leaves the farm and spends a miserable existence in the wild and fostered by humans, but everywhere he goes he is ridiculed and scorned. He spends winter alone in the wild, but finally, the next spring, he sees a flock of swans and makes his way towards them, not caring if they abuse or kill him. To his amazement, they welcome him; seeing his own reflection in the water, he realises that he has matured into a swan himself.

The story of the Ugly Duckling obviously resonates well with humans, it is one of Andersen' most popular tales, has been translated into many languages and expressed in many forms of performance art.