Analysis Of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid

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“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

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