Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Heidi was written by Swiss author Johanna Spyri. The main protagonist of this children’s fiction is Heidi, a little girl who becomes an orphan following the death of her parents. What becomes of her after that brings out the values of family relationships, the healing power of nature, and empathy, which is one of Heidi’s characteristics.

Introduction

After the death of Heidi’s parents, her aunt Dete takes her to the Alps to live with the grandfather. She makes friends with Peter, who lives with his blind grandmother.  She enjoys living in the mountain and adores the beauty of nature. The author centered the book about her life in the Alps. It is a lovely and timeless book. The major plot of Heidi is the conversion of her grandfather after she read him the story of the prodigal son.

So the swiss orphan finds herself living with a hermit grandfather who stays in a small town called Dorfli. As the plot unfolds, her aunt Dete comes back to the mountains and tells her she has gotten a job for her in Frankfurt at Sesemann House. When she got to the city, she meets new people and got friendly with Clara.

The major characters in the book are Heidi, the child of nature who did her best to showcase the beauty of nature. Alms Uncle or grandfather who transformed and started attending church and Clara whose determination changed her life.

Overview

The novel opens with Aunt Dete taking her niece, Heidi, to stay with the young girl’s grandfather, a goatherd who lives alone in the Swiss Alps. Dete, who has taken care of Heidi since she was orphaned as a baby, has a new job and can no longer care for the child. However, villagers express concern about Heidi living with her grandfather. He is a bitter old man who has become reclusive and has rejected religion. Nevertheless, Heidi is left with him, and the odd couple—after some initial reluctance on the grandfather’s part—are happy together. Away from her aunt’s oppression, the little girl’s spirits soar, and her goodness and faith soften the old man’s heart. She quickly comes to love life on the mountain and makes friends with Peter the goatherd and his blind grandmother, among others.

However, three years after leaving Heidi, Aunt Dete reappears, having found her niece a job in Frankfurt as a companion to a wheelchair-bound girl, Clara Sesemann. Dete believes the change will be good for Heidi, especially as Grandfather has refused to send her to school or church. Heidi reluctantly goes, and her departure is especially upsetting to Grandfather and Peter’s grandmother. Once at the Sesemann house, Heidi learns to love Clara, and she becomes close to Clara’s grandmother, who teaches her about God. However, the servants—particularly the coldhearted, stern Miss Rottenmeier —make Heidi unhappy, and she desperately misses the mountains. Ghostly sightings are revealed to be Heidi, whose homesickness has caused her to sleepwalk. A kindly doctor intervenes, and Heidi returns to the mountain to a joyous welcome. At her encouragement, Grandfather prays, and the two later attend church. His return to society is complete when he promises to live with Heidi in the village during the winter. Clara later visits and a jealous Peter causes her wheelchair to break. With help from Heidi and Peter, however, Clara begins to walk. A thrilled Mr. Sesemann promises Grandfather that he will take care of Heidi when the old man dies.

Healing power of nature

Nature is the physical world. It encompasses the things we see around us like plants, animals, rivers, water, mountains, and lots more. Most people believe that nature has a healing effect which is correct in some ways. Some people even plant trees and flowers in their environment for this purpose while some feed the birds and other creatures. At times even the sound of running water can help reduce stress for some people.

The mountain in which Heidi and the grandfather live helps them to have sound health both mentally and physically, away from noisy city life. According to what the author portrays, the air was full of energy and brittle. They enjoy seeing the movements of goats in a relaxed manner; they eat fresh herbs and fresh milk. Little wonder that when Heidi travels to Frankfort for Clara, who is disabled, it is not easy for the young girl. While in Frankfort, Heidi becomes homesick and goes back to the mountain. Even Dr. Classen, who visits the mountain when he was ill, feels better. He eats better and sleeps better, something he was not able to do before.

Let’s remember that the hassles and tussles of city life gradually take its toll on our health. Why do many people go on vacation in the wilds? If you are yet to explore the touch and power of nature, make out the time to do it. Many benefits are awaiting you when you commune with nature, such as: lowering blood pressure reduces depression, stress, and anxiety; heals, and rests your brain. Strengthening your immunity prevents obesity and diabetics and eliminates mental illnesses amongst others

So, it’s obvious that the author’s choice of a mountain setting for Heidi may have been deliberate.

Family and relationship

Family is the foundation of humankind. It doesn’t matter the time frame, area, or culture. For a significant number of persons, the original family is the first and essential social unit. Everything starts with the family. Proper training and upbringing from the family make someone responsible to a large extent. This is evident from statistics taking from prisons around the world. 80% of the prisoners have bad family upbringing.

Our associations with our parents and siblings groom us to succeed in association with other individuals and the world at large. When we mingle with the people outside our family, we can exhibit certified love, reliability, and responsibility.

Heidi was taken to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps after the death of her parents. They got along very well, and their affection for each other became very strong. She also made friends with Peter who lived with his mother in the mountains. He invited her to his house where she meets his mother and his blind grandmother, who loves to hear Heidi talk. Heidi also persuades her grandfather to visit Peter and his family, which was the first contact he made with people since he came to the mountains.

When she traveled to Frankfurt, she made friends with Clara and her father, Mr. Seseman. Clara was physically disabled and could not walk. She also met a friendly doctor called Dr. Classen and Clara’s grandmother, who made sure Heidi learns how to read and write. She also met a mean woman Fraulein Rottenmeier. In all these meetings and relationships, what is captivating is that, Heidi remained loving, bright, and supportive of the different characters she met.

Empathy

Empathy means putting oneself in other people’s situations. It means understanding the feelings of other people and extending a helping hand to them in difficult times. This was exemplified in Heidi towards Clara. People get close to you because you feel their emotions and help them overcome their sorrow. Heidi exemplified empathy by taking care of Clara. Clara could not walk and used a wheelchair. Heidi was able to get along with her and took care of her passionately. In return, Clara’s grandmother taught Heidi how to read and write, which also exemplifies empathy.

Like the saying goes “What goes around comes around”.  And also it is said that people who have gone through difficulty, appreciate real-life, and show more compassion on others. Sometimes we stand aloof to judge because we haven’t experienced what the other person is passing through.

You can do what Patricia Moore, a 26-year-old product designer did. She wanted to make products for the elderly.  So, she dressed up as an 85-year old to know what it is like to be elderly.  With the experience, she made products for the elderly. Her empathy created a positive ripple effect.

Religion

Religion is a social or cultural practice that includes rituals and sermon that relates to humanity and spirituality. Faith is considered to be a religious belief.

Heidi’s grandfather became a religious man through the persuasion of Heidi. He did not believe in religion, but Heidi was able to make him change his beliefs and later became a Christian. Her straightforward exercise prompts her grandfather to plunge to church after so many years. Being a Christian helped him to associate better with the people around the mountain and the villagers. Heidi also learns more about Christianity when she went to Frankfort to take care of Clara. Through Clara’s grandmother, Heidi learns more about Christianity and also learns to read and write.

Many religions exist in this era, but the best ones teach love, peace, long-suffering, and empathy. Any religion that doesn’t change your life for good is not worth pursuing. Man is naturally selfish and wicked, but a touch of good teachings and faith practices can melt a stony heart. When you listen to the news and hear about people killing others in the name of religion, it leaves us wondering. What kind of religion makes someone more wickedly than the term itself?

The author uses Christianity to show us that religion should bring a positive change in our lives and make us better.

Conclusion

HEIDI teaches about Love, kindness, empathy, and determination. She gets into the joys and sorrows of childhood; this made the book so exceptional. Different filmmakers have created film versions of Heidi. Currently, there are more than 20 films about Heidi. A famous movie about Heidi is the Heidi musical film directed by Allan Dwan in 1937. The film used Shirley Temple as Heidi from the Swiss Alps. Another is a Swiss family drama “Heidi’s Life” filmed in 1952 with Luigi Comencini as the director.

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