fredag den 2. november 2012

Fairytale Lessons: The Little Mermaid

First I'd like to say that I'm very sorry for my late post today! The last couple of days I've been kept very busy, especially with my Once in a Lifetime American Halloween! For those of you who don't know, I'm currently spending 4 months in the US, and Halloween is The Event for me while I'm here! Of course I'm now a hundred percent sure it's a tradition I'll be bringing with me back to Denmark!
 Enough about that. I've decided I'm gonna start a new series of posts, focusing on traditional fairytales that have been turned into Disney movies! 
This post is gonna be about The Little Mermaid, a fairytale that I've been incredibly curious about, since it's danish and I've pretty much grown up with it, but for some reason never read it before!

If you wanna read it yourself, I suggest you do so before reading this post! It contains spoilers!

The Little Mermaid by H.C. Andersen is a very interesting piece of litterature, especially if you have watched the disney movie and compare the two. I feel like whereas the Disney movie is your traditional "Love Conquers All" animated childrens movie, and even though the fairytale and the disney movie are very similar in many ways, the fairytale is so much more than a love story.

Our sea-dwelling heroine has always been fascinated by the world above, but as she is the youngest of her siblings, she also has to wait the longest before she can go and take a look at it herself. She is fascinated by the tales that her older sisters has to tell when they come back from their trips to the surface, but she is especially touched by what her grandmother tells her one day: People have souls, though mermaids do not, and when humans die, they get to live forever in a kingdom in the sky!

The little Mermaid's wish to gain a soul and that wish, and her sudden infatuation with a young prince that she saves from drowning, is the final push for her that makes her go see the witch and strike a horrible deal that gives her legs and a chance to win the heart of the prince, but ends up costing her her life in the end. 

It may not sound like it, but in my opinion this story is about so much more than just a rebellious teenage girl running away from home for the sake of some young boy she doesn't even know. Before she even met the guy, she had a strong passion and longing for the world above the ocean. He is just the thing that gives her the courage to follow her dream! Had she never met the prince, she would probably have stayed in the ocean with the rest of her family, safe and sound, but always wondering what her life could have been like if she just had the courage to go. He is the one who shows her the world above, and that actually makes her happy!

In the end her adventure leads her to a difficult choice: Will she kill the prince who overlooked her as a potential match and married someone else, forget about her mistake and go home, or will she own up to what she has brought on herself and let him be happy? 
Because of the goodness of her heart, her sacrifice and her strength, she gets the chance to earn a soul, and eternal life! 
She dies, yes, but her death is obviously not supposed to be a punishment. Instead, it defies the curse of the witch and gives our heroine a new beginning.

Another small, but important, point that I think this story gets across is this:
When the prince finally again meets the woman he has loved for a long time, the Little Mermaid seems jealous, yes, but the "other woman", the princess, is obviously not supposed to be a villain in the story. She is shown as being beautiful and lovable. The little Mermaid could have had her revenge on the girl in the end, even if she didn't want to kill the prince. She does nothing to harm her or divert the prince's attention from her, but instead 
accepts the other girl as the one who will make the prince happy, and kisses her forehead. I think this is a wonderful lesson of acceptance. Being happy for someone else, and letting go, is a way too rare lesson in stories today! 

After reading the story, I thought about how the ending could have been changed. What if the Mermaid had gotten to know the prince first, before changing herself? What if she had stayed with him at a less crowded beach until he woke up, and told him that she was his savior? Maybe he could have loved her, and then she could have made a deal with the witch, and they could have had their shot at a "Happily ever After"! 
But would this ending really have been as effective? Maybe not.

The little mermaid goes through a personal development throughout the story that culminates in the end, and she turns into someone from whom I feel we can learn a valuable lesson:

Be yourself, be happy for other people, learn to let go. Follow your dreams, because if you don't, you will never know what your adventure could have given you! If you make mistakes along the way, own up to them! 

But please, be careful, and don't strike bad deals with sea witches!

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