The Little Mermaid

1050 words 5 pages
Naugatuck Valley Community College

The Little Mermaid
Feminism and Self Sacrifice

Keyshla M. Diaz
ENG 215: Studies in Children’s Literature
Prof. Bonniecki
September 30th, 2010

Diaz 1
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid is a fairy tale by the Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen. The tale is about a young mermaid willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a merperson to gain a human soul and the love of a human prince. The tale was first published in 1837 and has been adapted to various media including musical theater and animated film.The standard of this classical story has been set to be the Disney Movie titled the same
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However, it will constantly feel like she is walking on sharp swords, and her feet will bleed most terribly. In addition, she will only get a soul if the prince loves her and marries her, for then a

Diaz 3 part of his soul will flow into her. Otherwise, at dawn on the first day after he marries another woman, the Little Mermaid will die brokenhearted and disintegrate into sea foam.
The final sequence of the tale is sad and a bit disappointing for those who have seen the Disney version first; it is not a traditional happy ending story instead is a bit tragic. The little mermaid is accepted into the spiritual world, where the "daughters of the air" reside. In this, she is apparently promised the "immortal soul", which has been her main motivation to obtain - along with the prince, of course. This ending has baffled critics because the narrative that precedes points to a tragic conclusion rather than to a happy one. If Andersen gave his story the upbeat Disney ending, he would be extolling self-sacrifice and expressing a faith that love triumphs over everything. If he chose the tragic ending, he would be crushing love's illusions and comparing love to the sharp knives that wound the mermaid's delicate feet.
The nobility of giving up one's life for the sake of love has been one of fiction's most enduring messages. It is also one of fiction's most dangerous and


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