by Hans Christian Anderson
Once upon a time
there lived a vain Emperor whose only worry in life was to dress in
elegant clothes. He changed clothes almost every hour and loved to
show them off to his people.
Word of the
Emperor's refined habits spread over his kingdom and beyond. Two
scoundrels who had heard of the Emperor's vanity decided to take
advantage of it. They introduced themselves at the gates of the
palace with a scheme in mind.
"We are two very
good tailors and after many years of research we have invented an
extraordinary method to weave a cloth so light and fine that it
looks invisible. As a matter of fact it is invisible to anyone who
is too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its quality."
The chief of the
guards heard the scoundrel's strange story and sent for the court
chamberlain. The chamberlain notified the prime minister, who ran to
the Emperor and disclosed the incredible news. The Emperor's
curiosity got the better of him and he decided to see the two
invisible, your Highness, this cloth will be woven in colors and
patterns created especially for you." The emperor gave the two men a
bag of gold coins in exchange for their promise to begin working on
the fabric immediately.
"Just tell us what
you need to get started and we'll give it to you." The two
scoundrels asked for a loom, silk, gold thread and then pretended to
begin working. The Emperor thought he had spent his money quite
well: in addition to getting a new extraordinary suit, he would
discover which of his subjects were ignorant and incompetent. A few
days later, he called the old and wise prime minister, who was
considered by everyone as a man with common sense.
"Go and see how the
work is proceeding," the Emperor told him, "and come back to let me
The prime minister
was welcomed by the two scoundrels.
finished, but we need a lot more gold thread. Here, Excellency!
Admire the colors, feel the softness!" The old man bent over the
loom and tried to see the fabric that was not there. He felt cold
sweat on his forehead.
"I can't see
anything," he thought. "If I see nothing, that means I'm stupid! Or,
worse, incompetent!" If the prime minister admitted that he didn't
see anything, he would be discharged from his office.
"What a marvelous
fabric, he said then. "I'll certainly tell the Emperor." The two
scoundrels rubbed their hands gleefully. They had almost made it.
More thread was requested to finish the work.
Emperor received the announcement that the two tailors had come to
take all the measurements needed to sew his new suit.
“Come in," the
Emperor ordered. Even as they bowed, the two scoundrels pretended to
be holding large roll of fabric.
“Here it is your
Highness, the result of our labour," the scoundrels said. "We have
worked night and day but, at last, the most beautiful fabric in the
world is ready for you. Look at the colors and feel how fine it is."
Of course the Emperor did not see any colors and could not feel any
cloth between his fingers. He panicked and felt like fainting. But
luckily the throne was right behind him and he sat down. But when he
realized that no one could know that he did not see the fabric, he
felt better. Nobody could find out he was stupid and incompetent.
And the Emperor didn't know that everybody else around him thought
and did the very same thing.
The farce continued
as the two scoundrels had foreseen it. Once they had taken the
measurements, the two began cutting the air with scissors while
sewing with their needles an invisible cloth.
you'll have to take off your clothes to try on your new ones." The
two scoundrels draped the new clothes on him and then held up a
mirror. The Emperor was embarrassed but since none of his bystanders
were, he felt relieved.
"Yes, this is a
beautiful suit and it looks very good on me," the Emperor said
trying to look comfortable. "You've done a fine job."
"Your Majesty," the
prime minister said, "we have a request for you. The people have
found out about this extraordinary fabric and they are anxious to
see you in your new suit." The Emperor was doubtful showing himself
naked to the people, but then he abandoned his fears. After all, no
one would know about it except the ignorant and the incompetent.
"All right," he
said. "I will grant the people this privilege." He summoned his
carriage and the ceremonial parade was formed. A group of
dignitaries walked at the very front of the procession and anxiously
scrutinized the faces of the people in the street. All the people
had gathered in the main square, pushing and shoving to get a better
look. An applause welcomed the regal procession. Everyone wanted to
know how stupid or incompetent his or her neighbor was but, as the
Emperor passed, a strange murmur rose from the crowd.
Everyone said, loud
enough for the others to hear: "Look at the Emperor's new clothes.
"What a marvellous
"And the colors!
The colors of that beautiful fabric! I have never seen anything like
it in my life!" They all tried to conceal their disappointment at
not being able to see the clothes, and since nobody was willing to
admit his own stupidity and incompetence, they all behaved as the
two scoundrels had predicted.
A child, however,
who had no important job and could only see things as his eyes
showed them to him, went up to the carriage.
"The Emperor is
naked," he said.
"Fool!" his father
reprimanded, running after him. "Don't talk nonsense!" He grabbed
his child and took him away. But the boy's remark, which had been
heard by the bystanders, was repeated over and over again until
"The boy is right!
The Emperor is naked! It's true!"
realized that the people were right but could not admit to that. He
though it better to continue the procession under the illusion that
anyone who couldn't see his clothes was either stupid or
incompetent. And he stood stiffly on his carriage, while behind him
a page held his imaginary mantle.
insight please read....