The fairy tale world of Disney is not where near what the fairy tales of old. These tales are full of princes and princess who fall deeply in love while beating all of the odds. Grimm fairy tales are much different slicing and dicing of wives, cannibalism and baby killing are just a few of the subjects in these gruesome tales. Today I am going to compare a very popular Disney movie with the original tale of the little mermaid.
The Little Mermaid
The little mermaid was written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1836. Hans Christian Andersen’s little mermaid lives underwater with her family (except the mother who is dead in both versions) and there was a evil sea witch who takes her voice/tongue just like the Disney movie but that is about where the similarities start and end. The 1836 little mermaid gets to go to the surface on her 16th birthday. She sees the prince and falls in love. The little mermaid eventually goes to the sea witch and gets the potion to turn her tail into legs. The sea witch tells her she will feel like she is walking on shredded glass all the time and will lose her tongue but if the prince does not marry her she will die. What you have to realize is mermaids have no souls she will just dissolve into nothing but if she gets the prince she will gain a mortal soul this mean she could possibly spend eternity in heaven. The prince ends up marrying anther princess who he is appointed to be married to in the end and not the little mermaid. She knows that her inevitable death is coming. The little mermaid’s sisters find out what has happend and sell their hair to the sea witch to get a knife for her to kill the prince with if she does she will regain her tail and her merlife. she cannot bring herself to do it and throws herself into the ocean and becomes an air nymph for her pure dead.
The movie made by Disney in 1898 is very diffrent. In the movie the little mermaid saves the prince from drowning while he is on ship celebration for his birthday. she falls in love as she places him on the beach and he catches a glimpse of her as she dives into the waves. The little mermaid goes to the sea witch and gets three days to make the prince love her. In the movie she loses her voice and is mute just like the story but she keeps her tongue and is not in constant pain like the book. The sea witch has a lot more to do in this story than in the book and actually tries to make it so the prince marries her when she uses a spell to make her look like a beautiful girl with the little mermaids voice. The sea witch almost suceeds until the little mermaids fishy friends interceed and save the day. The prince ends up marrying the little mermaid in the end and lives happily ever after.
The stories are similar but the details are different. The book was made to show that rash decisions can make things really hard for you even cause death. Many “fairy tales” were written to show how things could be if you are guilty of impure or unnatural behavior. In this fairy tale Anderson probably gets some of his ideas from the elementals of Paracelsus there are fire earth air and water. Paracelsus defined paranormal beings into one of these four categories. In this system Undines are water creatures or nymphs. Like the little mermaid she could only get a human soul by getting the love of a man. This inspires many myths and tales of mermaid luring sailors to their death by singing them to the rocks. The little mermaids in these tales are not so innocent as they are in Disney movies but to me make way more sense.