Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Little Mermaid Exposed

I think it is safe to say that The Little Mermaid is a very well known fairytale. Made popular by Disney, the fairytale features a young mermaid who is fascinated by the world of walking humans. In an effort to live their life and find the prince she has fallen in love with, the mermaid, gives up her voice in place of legs. In the end, she is able to make the prince fall in love with her breaking the spell and regaining her voice to live happily ever after. The story doesn’t stop there though; Walk Disney has perused the entrancing fairytale to include the life of the couple’s daughter and her adventures with the sea.

I’m about to shatter every preconceived notion that you or others may have about this story. The Little Mermaid is a Danish fairytale written by the famous fairytale author, Han Christian Andersen. The thing that we must take into account is that the original purpose of fairytale stories was not to entertain children, but adult. Often the stories we have grown up with have been altered in order to accommodate a young crowd because their unabridged versions held things we would consider inappropriate for children. For example, Little Red Riding Hood has often been interpreted as a story about a girl’s rape.

The Little Mermaid in its original format does not include a happy ending. In fact, the prince falls in love with another woman and the Little Mermaid dies a death that sentences her to 300 years of good-doing in order to acquire a soul. When the Little Mermaid “looses her voice” she actually has to cut out her tongue and is sentenced to legs which cause her ten folds of pain with each step she takes. When the prince’s dog finds her, she is kept as a form of entertainment. The prince enjoys best his singer, but finds much entertainment when the Little Mermaid dances. In the end, when the prince marries another, the Little Mermaid’s five sisters come to rescue her they bring with them a dagger which will release her from the spell. She must kill the prince, but opts not to and turns to dust with the sun’s rise.

As you can tell, this is nothing like the story we all know. It’s quite interesting to read the original versions of some of his stories. Many of them are quite well known by Americans and world citizens alike. I find though, that no one actually knows who the author of these tales are and that, in fact, they are Danish.

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