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"The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" ( ) is a story written in 1816 by Prussian author E. T. A. Hoffmann, in which young Marie Stahlbaum's favourite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical kingdom populated by doll. In 1892, the Russia composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographer Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov turned Alexandre Dumas's adaptation of the story into the ballet The Nutcracker.
The story begins on Christmas Eve, at the Stahlbaum house. Marie, seven, and her brother, Fritz, sit outside the parlour speculating about what kind of present their godfather, Drosselmeyer, who is a clockmaker and inventor, has made for them. They are at last allowed in, where they receive many splendid gifts, including Drosselmeyer's, which turns out to be a clockwork castle with mechanical people moving about inside it. However, as they can only do the same thing over and over without variation, the children quickly tire of it. At this point, Marie notices a nutcracker, and asks to whom he belongs. Her father tells her that he belongs to all of them, but that since she is so fond of him she will be his special caretaker. She, Fritz, and their sister, Louise, pass him amongst themselves, cracking nuts, until Fritz tries to crack one that is too big and hard, and his jaw breaks. Marie, upset, takes him away and bandages him with a ribbon from her dress.
When it is time for bed, the children put their Christmas gifts away in the special cabinet where they keep their toys. Fritz and Louise go up to bed, but Marie begs to be allowed to stay with the nutcracker a while longer, and she is allowed to do so. She puts him to bed and tells him that Drosselmeyer will fix his jaw as good as new. At this, his face seems momentarily to come alive, and Marie is frightened, but she then decides it was only her imagination.
The grandfather clock begins to chime, and Marie believes she sees Drosselmeyer sitting on top of it, preventing it from striking. Mice begin to come out from beneath the floor boards, including the seven-headed Mouse King. The dolls in the toy cabinet come alive and begin to move, the nutcracker taking command and leading them into battle after putting Marie's ribbon on as a token. The battle goes to the dolls at first, but they are eventually overwhelmed by the mice. Marie, seeing the nutcracker about to be taken prisoner, takes off her slipper and throws it at the Mouse King. She then faints into the toy cabinet's glass door, cutting her arm badly.
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