Those that know me will tell you about my love for merfolk despite them being nothing more than a fisherman’s tale. In Rosenberg Castle Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark there is a statue of what the little mermaid would look like if she was real. The Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Anderson, was released in 1836. The story tells the story of a
young princess willing to sacrifice everything in pursuit of true love.
Hans Christian Anderson
Hans Christian Anderson’s version is like Disney’s. The young mermaid hears stories of the world above and at the age of fifteen, she swims above to discover a birthday celebration on a ship for a handsome prince. A storm causes the ship to sink and she rescues the prince taking him to shore. When her grandmother informs her of the short lifespan humans have, she visits the sea witch.
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid received her legs but at the cost that with each step causes her pain. The Sea Witch warns her that she will only have a human soul if the prince falls in love with her and marries her. The prince ends up marrying a girl from the neighboring kingdom, believing that she had rescued him from drowning. Before dawn, her sisters rise out of the sea offering her a dagger. If she kills him and his blood drips on her feet she’ll be a mermaid again.
Despite the prince marrying another person, she still loves him and can’t bring herself to kill him. She jumps off the ship with the dagger turning to sea foam. The mermaid discovers she became a daughter of the air and entered the atmosphere meeting others like her. She is given the chance to earn a soul by doing selfless acts for mankind for three-hundred years to enter the Kingdom of God.
I appreciate the fact that Disney respected the themes and characters of the story, while on the other hand, adding their own twist to the beloved tale. The ending of the story is bittersweet, as the unnamed mermaid becomes a spirit and is accepted into the Kingdom of God. It appears that her love for the prince outweighed her desire to be with him. Readers would have liked to see the mermaid end up with the prince, but you can’t force someone to be with you if they love someone else.
Furthermore, despite the tale from Hans Christian Anderson being different than the Disney story, it’s clear where Walt Disney got his inspiration from. Both stories have a happy ending even if in one she doesn’t end up with the prince she is still at peace knowing the prince married someone he loved.