Analysis Of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid

Decent Essays
“Once upon a time” is an idiom most people associate with the beginning of a fairy tale. Fairy tales from around the world represent their culture’s values. Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author who lived from 1805 to 1875. His “The Little Mermaid” represents Danish culture. Western Europe, including Denmark, was facing an influence of liberalism in the mid-nineteenth century. Walt Disney was an extremely successful American entrepreneur and animator; in 1923, he founded one of the most valuable and recognizable companies in the world. Walt Disney’s empire adapts many classic fairy tales, adding modern twists. One of their most famous tales is “The Little Mermaid” which exemplifies American values. The United States of America was influenced …show more content…
Vanity is defined as excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements. Many of Hans Christian Andersen’s fables are meant to “cure, by satire than logic, what [he] perceived as an epidemic of vanity and competition” (Ahr). “The Little Mermaid” is one of his most famous fairy tales. Written in 1837, it is about a young mermaid who gives up everything for the chance to fall in love with a prince and gain an immortal soul. Deceived by a sea witch’s ploy, the little mermaid ends up sacrificing herself for the happiness of the prince whom she loves. Andersen uses more complex symbolism rather than the simple symbolism used by Disney. Andersen describes his little mermaid as having a complexion “as fine as the petal of a rose and [eyes] as blue as the deepest lake” (Andersen 149-150). This description speaks to the physical beauty of the mermaid. By painting a picture of a dainty young female protagonist, Andersen represents females and femininity. For special occasions, the little mermaid wore a “wreath of white lilies around her hair; each of the petals of every flower was half a pearl . . . [and allowed] eight oysters clip themselves onto [her] tail, so that …show more content…
Once acquired, most likely unexpected consequences will arise. In The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lector says that we begin by coveting what we see every day; this is not the case in Andersen’s story. When a mermaid turns fifteen, she is allowed to go to the surface for the first time. The little mermaid is the last of all her sisters to go because she is the youngest, but she has a fascinating time. She falls in love with a human prince when she sees him on his ship. Because he is a human and she is a mermaid, their love is forbidden. The desire for him soon clouds the little mermaid’s judgment. When the prince’s ship wrecks, she dives in “among the wreckage, forgetting the danger that she herself was in” to save him (Andersen 156). This impairment, caused by her desire for love, inevitably leads to her demise. The more she loves him, the more she grows to “love human beings and [wish] that she could leave the sea and live among them” (Andersen 158). She states she would give “all [her] three hundred years of life for only one day as a human being” to be with her prince (Andersen 159). Saying this, she does not anticipate the repercussions. Similarly, in Disney’s version, Ariel says she would “trade in [her] fins” for feet just for one day on land (“The Little Mermaid” 81). The little mermaid and Ariel are both willing to give up something that defines them for the chance to gain true

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    First, starting out with what each mermaid desires most. Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” has come to terms with wanting a soul, “more and more she grew to love human beings and wished that she could leave the sea and live among them,” (Andersen 65) but pays the ultimate price overall when this ordeal takes place. In Disney’s The Little Mermaid, she has come to the conclusion that she also wants to be part of the human world, after being curious but her ultimate goal is be with the prince. Both mermaids will enter the Supernatural World with different terms on what it will mean. Now that each mermaid has established what they desire most, they each can’t do it all alone, so will require the assistance of an aide.…

    • 884 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    We are introduced to the Sea King, sea witch, little mermaid and the prince. With the little mermaid as the main character she sets up the story by wanting to visit the surface and interact with the people. The Prince is the main love interest and he is introduced when the little mermaid saves him from drowning. The next step is a tragic event, and it is much smaller then something Shakespeare could muster up. Nobody died, yet.…

    • 1067 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The women are usually put in the position as being a damsel in distress, always needing to be saved by her prince. The basic role in every Disney movie is for the princess to find her prince and do whatever she could do for him, and as soon as they get married the movie ends with a happily ever after. It has been said that an increased interest in heterosexual relationships has long been considered a hallmark of adolescence (Giordano, Longmore, and Manning, 125). But why must you have a man to be happy? Children can be greatly affected by the way we interpret the way life should be.…

    • 2080 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Moreover, unseen innuendos not caught by the average young individual can also be seen. The sexual awakening of the young mermaid is seen through the use of placing a statue of the young prince in her garden, showing her heterosexual desires (Andersen). As Fraser states on page 252 in “Reading and retelling girls across cultures: mermaid tales in Japanese and English,” “Andersen’s mermaid embodies girl consciousness in her free and arrogant refusal of her mermaid body and her demand for the power to enjoy access to the land and an eternal sol from a patriarchal God.” (Fraser,252) Another example of this is seen throughout the relationship the young mermaid the price part-take in. She is mute and behaves as some sort of slave to the prince in order to gain his affection and complete her task at hand. This shows the oppressive nature of the story that can interpreted in a different light through the eyes of young children.…

    • 1752 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    She dreams of the day that she is allowed to go to the surface, sit on the rocks, and watch the ships go by. The girls are only allowed to go to the surfaces at the age of fifteen and at night. Since she was the youngest it seemed like, she had to wait for what seemed like forever to turn fifteen. When she finally turned fifteen she swam up to the surface, while she was up on the surface she saw a ship wreck. In all the wreckage was a young prince…

    • 752 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    This fairy tale teaches society that even though someone may have achieved a heroic feat, such as the little mermaid saving the prince, they may not be renowned for it. This is evident when the little mermaid is rejected by the prince who thinks the young woman from the convent is his rescuer. The prince tells her, “The youngest of them found me on the shore, and saved my life. I saw her but twice, and she is the only one in the world whom I could love; but you are like her, and you have almost driven her image out of my mind”, showing that he truly loves his supposed rescuer (Andersen). That lesson of an unknown hero was lost as the tale was adapted into modern society.…

    • 1291 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Not only that, she is fearless even when being chased by a shark, and instead of needing to be saved by a handsome prince or anyone of the sort, she actually uses her own wits and abilities to escape. Unfortunately – and this was to be expected – her potential as a strong female protagonist plummets when she meets Prince Eric. Interestingly, Eric plays the role of the damsel-in-distress in the story – “His limbs were failing him, his beautiful eyes were closed, and he would have died had not the little mermaid come to his assistance”, but despite her moment of heroism, Ariel’s personality changes afterwards dramatically: “The next day, Ariel was acting very strange. She seemed dreamy and distracted. ‘He loves me, he loves me not,’ she giggled, picking the yellow petals off a sea lily.…

    • 1184 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    For example, Axel was a few seconds from proposing to Desiree, a mermaid in distress appeared on the beach, and then they ran off together to start their lives. It never said why they ran off together or why Axel left Desiree. Another thing people notice in this story is that Axel is attracted to her beauty. We are told that the mermaid is beautiful with long, blonde hair; however, the flatness left the readers questioning is that the only that is significant about the mermaid is her beauty. Other fairy tales we have read in class, such as this one, forces the reader to examine fairy tales in a closer light with a better depth of understanding.…

    • 795 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    People should fight for their love. All people have an ability to interact and share their idea and needs with other people. Communication is the key part to get a successful relationships, but the little Mermaid couldn't express her ideas and love, because she already sacrificed her tongue to get human legs. The prince had only one chance; to marry the princess that his parent's desire. The little Mermaid knew that she will die, if the prince marry the Princess.…

    • 541 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The plots of the films that Disney gears toward young girls is not very different. Deborah first breaks down Disney's adaptation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. She finds that the film begins with a girl who dreams of escaping to this mysterious world where she doesn't have to face life's responsibilities, but in the end she comes to the conclusion that she was wrong for wanting anything other than her reality. Contrastingly, Deborah points out that Disney's Ariel, in The Little Mermaid, is willing to risk everything in her world under the sea to become a part of the human world. Ariel's main goal is to marry a human man and settle into a normal human life, something that falls into Disney's conservative principles.…

    • 705 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays