Friday, October 15, 2010

Fairy Tale Fridays: The Little Mermaid

Special Thanks to my Personal Faery Friend for the Button Art: Ye Olde Faery Shoppe 

For this week's selection, we return to another one of the classic tales . . . The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen.  Though many of us are familiar with the basic story, probably thanks to Disney, I realized as I read that I had never read the original tale before.  One of Andersen's most-loved tales is one that opens with beautiful writing . . .
"Far, far from land, where the waters are as blue as the petals of the cornflower and as clear as glass, there, where no anchor can reach the bottom, live the mer-people.  So deep is this part of the sea that you would have to pile many church towers on top of each other before one of them emerged above the surface."
The imagery from the very beginning is so vivid and I was immediately lost in the story of young (and may I say forbidden?!?) love that the youngest and most beautiful of the mer-daughters has for a mere mortal human.  She longed to visit the surface, particularly after those years that all five of her elder sisters had the opportunity to experience on their fifteenth birthday . . . each reporting back what they found to be the most memorable.  The day finally came for the youngest, and of course, she finds the love of her life, rescues him, and pines for him, resulting in a trip to the sea witch's lair to become a human herself to win the young prince's heart.

This is where the story veers from the tale that I grew up with!  Instead of the happily ever after where the dear little mermaid wins over the prince and lives to the end of her days with legs, she instead is bumped from her position of close friend by the prince's true love, resulting in her ending on the land and the sea.

I have quite a mixed feeling of this tale that I honestly do not even know what to say!  The beginning of the story is so beautifully written and the premise is one that is strong and hopeful.  The middle even is noteworthy to mention because it remains strong.  It is the ending that leaves me baffled!  I am not sure what I think about the little mermaid being transformed into a "daughter of air," living in limbo for hundreds of years.  That simply just sounds depressing to me!  But then again, I have to wonder if there is some religious undertones and meanings to this one that I simply do not understand because of my lack of knowledge on the subject.

What did you think of The Little Mermaid's final role?

Friday, October 22nd:  The Old Gravestone by Hans Christian Andersen
Friday, October 29th:  The Juniper Tree by The Brothers Grimm
Friday, November 5th:  Fairy Tale Food & Fun (more details to come!)
Friday, November 12th:  "The Tale of the Three Brothers" from The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling


  1. The air spirit ending was really strange to me too. It took the whole story in the direction of children's behavior - almost guilting kids to be good so as not to add to the mermaid's suffering. The Disney version is near and dear to my heart, but I am glad to have read the original. It makes me realize how much darker fairy tales usually aree than the versions we know of them.

  2. lisa :) . . . I really did enjoy the Disney version of this one, so the original took me a bit by surprise, especially considering it wasn't a happy ending with a bit of violence like so many others that we have read so far! I am looking forward to reading your whole post, so I am heading over right now to check it out!


    Greetings.I have been captivated by the tale of the Little Mermaid since I saw a short animated adaptation of the said piece from an unrecalled TV series during my adolescent years. I have spend & toiled hours over the internet for references of this 30 minute animated piece. From my vague recollection, the rendition of this classic was reminiscent of the earlier Russian animated version (Rusalochka-1968) which told the authentic plot of the story. It has a distinct, artful, haunting feel which was narrated by a woman. The show from what I hardly remembered was hosted by Mr. Pat Morita back in the early 1990's. Unfortunately, I havent found any supporting reference in rediscovering this gem of an animated short film. I was wondering if anyone might have the slightest idea of the animated short story that I previously described. Your help is much needed. Thank you for your time.

  4. ewankosayotalaganoh . . . Sorry, but I can be of no help! Good luck with your search!


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