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Hoffman's plot centers around a girl named Marie. Her Godfather Drosselmeier gives the impressionable girl a nutcracker doll as a gift on the eve of the family Christmas party. He also tells the little girl a sad story about his nephew who has been turned into this nutcracker doll. In the beginning, a beautiful princess Pirlipat is cursed to become forever ugly by the Mouse King's mother. The only way to stop the curse is for a brave and handsome man to find the hardest nut in the world, crack it with his teeth, and deliver the kernel to the princess to eat. To sweeten the hunt, the king has promised his daughter's hand in marriage and a grand money award to anyone who can break the curse. At the final moment when the curse is to take effect, Drosselmeier's nephew appears with the prized nut and offers her the kernel. The moment she swallows the nut, she turns into a breathtakingly beautiful woman. At the same time, young Drosselmeier becomes repulsively ugly with elongated features like those of a wooden nutcracker (hence the name). No one ever bothered to tell him that he would inherit the curse in place of the princess. Instead of a fairy tale ending, the princess is repelled by Drosselmeier's ugliness and has her father banish him permanently from the kingdom or face execution. In the commotion, Drosselmeier accidentally steps on the Mouse King's mother and kills her, prompting eternal vengeance on the Nutcracker. At night after the party is over and Marie lay asleep, an army of ruthless mice overcome her bedroom. Marie does not realize that she is in a fantasy dream world. The mice are led by the vicious Mouse King. Marie's nutcracker doll comes to life in an attempt to save the day! The nutcracker fails although Marie defeats the Mouse King with one swift throw of her slipper. The nutcracker again turns into the handsome Prince and marries Marie. The dream of Marie is wonderful: she is happy and dances with the Nutcracker the whole night long under the New Year's tree and her happiness seems to be endless. This ending disguises all of the bitterness in previous portions of Hoffman's story.