Fear & Courage

emperor new clothes


The emperor’s new clothes is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Below is it’s plot from wikipedia.

A vain Emperor who cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two swindlers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor’s ministers cannot see the clothing themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions and the Emperor does the same. Finally the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Then a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspects the assertion is true, but continues the procession.


This is such a great tale with rich teachings. To me it is a symbolic story about fear & courage. The emperor is fearful of facing his truth. In search of his passion for vanity he was swindled and to protect his fear of being look upon as stupid, vain and in shame. He can go through a phase of anger where his ministers or subjects whom dares to laugh at him will be dealt with. The emperor has a high responsibility and therefore high power. Hence an angry emperor will caused fear in his ministers and subjects. In fear of their current comfort, stability and life, they will closed their eyes, their mouth and their ears to the reality of truth.

As the young boy started laughing at the emperor for being naked, the rest of the people watches on in horror. So petrified by the possible repercussion of the emperor’s rage.  The truth has been brought out by that young boy.

At this moment shame, guilt and fear is overwhelming everyone especially the emperor.

Will he cover his fear by anger and silence all whom had triggered him or by pretending that the boy is insane?

Or will he have the courage to acknowledge his fear by ending his procession and dealing with his swindlers?


When face with fearful situations, one can either pretend that it is not there, be angry with something else or brave through towards the source to heal it. The journey from fear to courage are everywhere in life. But the one that we are passionate about is always worth the journey through the shame, guilt and fear. Being courageous for our own truth is a great way to start any moment.