What is the Moral of the Ugly Duckling

Moral: You cannot judge a person by outward appearance.

Ugly Duckling is a fairytale written by the Danish author and poet Hans Christian Anderson. This popular tale has been adapted to many films, musicals, and dramas. The Ugly Duckling narrates the story of a duckling who is always berated by the fellow barnyard animals. Given below is a summary of the story.

The Summary of Ugly Duckling

The ugly duckling looks very different from his siblings who always make fun of him and treat him badly because of his appearance. The young duckling searches for a place where he will be accepted for who he is. But he cannot find that place with ducks, or hens, or geese, or the old woman and her cat and hen. He wishes to be beautiful like the swans he sees flying in the sky, yet he is too young to fly.

By spring, he becomes fully grown and tries to join a flock of swans. The swans don’t tease him like others, but they treat him like one of them. The duckling is so surprised that such beautiful creatures would want to be with him. But then he sees his reflection in the water and sees that he too is a beautiful swan. He has finally found his home with the swans and is at peace from all the mocking and ridicule he has endured in the past.

What is the Moral of the Ugly Duckling

Do not judge a person by his outward appearance.

What is the Moral of the Ugly Duckling

This story teaches us many lessons. The most important lesson of all is that we shouldn’t discriminate people, judging by their physical appearance. The barnyard animals ridicule and mock the duckling because he doesn’t look like one of them. It is only because of this strange appearance that they treat him differently.

The idea that we should never give up on following our passions and finding our place in society is also apparent in this story. When the duckling tries to fit in with the other barnyard animals, he gets a lot of advice from them on how to become one of them. But in the end, he follows his passion for swimming. And when the duckling joins the flock of swans, he doesn’t know how his reception will be. He is simply following his passion and his desire to find his place in society no matter what happens.

Image Courtesy:

“Ugly Duckling” by LaSylphide at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., (Public Domain) via  

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.


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