The Emperor's New Clothes: Summary & Moral

The Emperor's New Clothes: Summary & Moral
Coming up next: The Snow Queen: Summary, Characters & Analysis

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 Excess Pride
  • 0:21 Plot Summary
  • 2:00 Moral of the Story
  • 2:43 Application Today
  • 3:26 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up


Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

'The Emperor's New Clothes' is a short tale by Hans Christian Andersen. In this lesson, we will summarize the tale, examine the morals, and see how they still apply today.

Excess Pride

Have you ever done something simply due to pride or out of fear of what others might think of you? Hans Christian Anderson's 'The Emperor's New Clothes' is a tale of an entire kingdom that ignores the obvious for fear of judgement, only to be called out by a child.

'The Emperor's New Clothes' Plot Summary

In this story, the Emperor loves fine clothing. Two men, swindlers, arrive in the city claiming to be the best weavers imaginable. They claim that the clothing they make is the finest with beautiful, intricate patterns. The swindlers say that this clothing is also magical and would appear invisible to anyone who was stupid or incompetent.

The Emperor is excited about this amazing product, and he pays the men a huge sum to make these magnificent clothes. The swindlers then pretended to weave and sew the clothing with empty looms and needles without thread. The Emperor sends men to check on the swindler's work. When each man realizes he sees nothing, he does not want to admit it for fear he would be accused of being stupid and incompetent. So, each man lies to the Emperor, saying how the clothing was magnificent.

The clothing is brought to the Emperor on the day of a great procession. The Emperor sees nothing, but he, too, did not want to admit to being stupid or incompetent, so he agrees that the clothing is exquisite. After being dressed in the invisible garments, the Emperor marches in the procession in front of his entire kingdom. Everyone in the kingdom sees the emperor without clothes, but for fear of being accused of being stupid or incompetent, they all sing the false praises of their Emperor's fine clothing.

Finally, a child says, ''But he doesn't have anything on!'' Everyone realizes that if an innocent child is saying this, then it must be true. Everyone starts exclaiming, ''He doesn't have anything on!'' The Emperor must then finish the procession knowing that the people are right, and everyone knows he is wearing nothing but his pride.

Moral of the Story

The moral, or message, of this tale is that we must not let pride or fear keep us from speaking up. Another moral is that children speak the truth when no one else will. This story shows the importance of proof in the form of empirical data, which is evidence that can be observed through the senses.

'The Emperor's New Clothes' was published in 1837. At this point in time, science was gaining popularity as a method to explaining the world, but there were still many who relied on superstitions and old wives' tales. The moral can be better understood in this context, because if everyone in the story had simply relied upon empirical data, then they wouldn't have been made a fool. This is a moral that can be applied in many different situations, both historically and in modern times.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account