Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Ugly Duckling

Hans Christian Andersen's "The Ugly Duckling" (1845) is a classic Fable: an outsized, misfit "duckling" is rejected by other ducks – even his own supposed mother – but after a kind of Night Journey is greeted into the community of swans, since, now mature, he is indeed a handsome swan. The UD tale typifies the Metamorphosis which comes naturally from within, given time – growing-up as a Rite of Passage (>>> Menarche). This maturing may be no more than a change in attitude or Perception: Cinderella realizes she may indeed be desirable, and the girl called Thing in Mary Brown's The Unlikely Ones (1986) learns that the "ugliness" she hides behind her Mask is a Delusion; gawky Hidden Monarchs gain confidence, authority and gravitas; Changelings and outcasts need to rediscover their own folk, even if only a Pariah Elite; other young misfits grapple with emerging Talent which may lead them to become full-blown Witches or Wizards. Swanhood comes in many forms. [DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.