The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson


Here’s the full story:

I thought that everyone knew this story. I was wrong. 3 of my coworkers had never heard of it! I think this one deserves a relook.


Amazing story. I used to read the works of HCA religiously when I was a kid. Great message behind The Emperor’s New Clothes.


Did you realize or remember, @thecrucialbrett, that at the end of the story the Emperor never acknowledges that he’s naked? We never get that satisfaction as readers.

“The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, “This procession has got to go on.” So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn’t there at all.”

I thought that was really interesting since it wasn’t how I remembered the end of the story at all…


Maybe it was a reference to the emperor embracing his body and being proud to be in his own skin. Something like a life lesson that you don’t need fancy clothes to be great.


The Emperor’s New Clothes is a great story with a lot of complexity around the values and motivations of the people.

  • emperor (uncaring/materialistic)
  • officials (questioning/self-doubt/faithful to a fault)
  • citizens (concerned with neighbors’ opinion until safe)
  • weavers (swindlers)
  • children (innocent)

I always had a negative view of the emperor. The officials, even more so, because they should have been his trusted advisors. The real answer, as it relates to the emperor, I think comes down to the last sentence.

The translation from the The Hans Christian Andersen Centre linked by @Meredith uses the word “shivered” and states “he suspected they were right”

However, the Project Gutenberg translation uses the word “writhed” and states “for he knew it was true.” (HTML version)

The Emperor writhed, for he knew it was true, but he thought ‘the procession must go on now,’ so held himself stiffer than ever, and the chamberlains held up the invisible train.

I don’t know the Danish language, but it’s odd that the words the translators each chose differ so much in meaning. Just like @Meredith [quote=“Meredith, post:3, topic:49”]
it wasn’t how I remembered the end of the story at all

So let’s say we look the other way on that small fact about whether he knew or just suspected. The real question is WHY did the Emperor think

the procession must go on now.

Here is my view on the ending: As a leader he suspected he had been fooled, but he wan’t sure until the kid said something (so not the brightest guy).

However, sometimes a leader has to lead. If all of his officials and subjects sat around and thought about how bad things were, or how hard the tasks ahead were going to be, things might never improve. Everyone has doubts deep down. We want to be inspired by leaders, and we expect those leaders to show confidence. We also want leaders to be good people, intelligent, caring, and honest.

So the emperor decided he must continue to lead. Let’s hope he figures out the rest of it.


So much good meatiness you’ve shared here @steveco. Here’s the part I don’t understand. If we want the leaders to be good, intelligent, caring and honest AND show confidence, wouldn’t that be possible if the emporer had at that point admitted fault? It still seems to me like his huge weakness in the story was the inability to think for himself, and that never changes. Therefore, the people of his kingdom were stuck with a person that readers of the story can intuit, ultimately, is just a bad leader. Right?


Agreed maybe for this specific situation.

I was speaking more about those situations when everyone knows the situation is dire, but they carry on because they have to and don’t talk about the obvious.

Part 2 of this story would be interesting.


I’m with you @steveco. What happens next? Do other people start listening to the boy? Does the emperor get away with his new look? And what does the tailor get out of it? What about his agenda?


Interesting article on Obama’s reaction to the election.

The procession must go on…

Edit: wrong link


This line reminded me The Emperor’s New Clothes: "You’d argue about means, but there was a baseline of facts that we could all work off of. And now we just don’t have that.”

What if no one can agree about whether the Emperor is naked or not? Does that mean he’s not naked?