Every single person who has read, will read, or is reading this post probably heard of the little mermaid. Whether its the happy Disney version, the ballet, or Mr. Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy-tale, the Little Mermaid is a folktale that has been very wide spread in popular culture. So for today’s daily myth, let me help share the story even more by retelling The Little Mermaid.
So the Little Mermaid, is the youngest of five daughters born to the King of the mer-people. There the mer-folk live to be about 300 years old, much longer lives than that of a human’s, but it turns out mer-people are soulless. Once they die they turn to foam (unlike human beings who have souls and get to go to Heaven). The Little Mermaid lives under the sea in her father’s kingdom as princess, and she was known to have one of the most enchanting and beautiful voices in the entire sea. As each daughter turns fifteen years old, they are given the opportunity to visit the land above. The Little Mermaid listens to her sisters’s stories with hungry ears. They tell her what they saw up on land and what the human beings are like. She becomes exceedingly eager to go up herself and see.
On the day, she turned fifteen and got to go up to the surface she saw a huge ship with a handsome prince aboard. She falls in love at first site of him and watches over him all day. At one point a huge storm out at sea rolls in, and threatens to hurt the prince. She saves the prince from drowning though. With the ship wrecked, the Little Mermaid drags his unconscious body to the shore and waits with him till a young maiden from the temple finds him.
The Little Mermaid can not forget the love she feels for the prince. She yearns to live on land with him, and have an eternal soul so that she may enter heaven with him. Desperate to find a way to gain this, she visits the Sea Witch who tells her that she can sell to her a potion for the price of her tongue (and her wonderful singing voice). The potion would give her legs, but would not allow her to return to the sea once more. With her knew legs, the Little Mermaid would be able to dance a beautiful dance in a way that no human ever could. Yet, every step the mermaid would take with those legs would feel like she was standing on broken glass and dancing would cause excruciating pain as if she moved in a field of sharp knives. Even more, she would only be able to gain a soul if she was bestowed true love’s kiss on the day of their marriage for then a piece of his soul would flutter into her body (I guess the chance of a soul is great and all; but being mute, walking in glass, and having to rely solely on some dude who knows nothing about you, and cannot talk to you, is just a little to risky).
She accepts everything and drinks the potion. On land she finds a way to meet the prince and he is smitten by her beauty and grace. Her being a mute does not bother him too much. Because he is mesmerized by her dancing, she dances for him bearing through the pain.
One day, the King tells his son that he must marry, and that a young princess is chosen from a neighboring kingdom to be his bride.
The prince is heart broken, he tells the Little Mermaid that he refuses to marry the young princess for he is in love (she probably got excited here hoping that he was about to confess to her). He continues to say that his love was devoted to the young maiden that saved him from the storm. (BAM!) But all hope is not lost for him, as it turns out, the young maiden and the fair princess are the same person. She was scent to the temple to save him (and by luck was there to help him after the mermaid saved his butt). He proclaims his love to her, and they announce their wedding to be the next day.
The prince and princess marry, and the Little Mermaid’s heart shatters. Her sisters visit her that night with a gift for that they bought from the Sea Witch. It was a magical ivory knife that cost all of the sisters’s hair. They told her that if she killed the prince before dawn and dripped his blood on her feet, she would gain her tail once again. Her suffering would end, and she would not become foam.
So that night she enters into the prince’s room. She sees the prince and his new wife sleeping in their bed, and she cannot slay them. With a broken heart, she completely gives up hope and prepares herself for her death. She sits upon a rock at the shore line and watches the golden sun rise. At dawn she throws herself into the sea. Her body dissolves into pearly sea foam, and she ceases to exist with out a soul to enter Heaven’s golden gates. This is how some versions end, but some continue. Instead of ceasing to exist, she turns into a spirit called a daughter of the air.
She meets other daughters who tell her that one becomes a daughter of air when the strive for an eternal soul with all the strength of their heart. They also explain that she can gain an immortal soul if she does good deeds for three hundred years. She also learned that every time a maiden misbehaved she would weep, and each tear would add a day to her sentence. And that is how it ends. I like to believe that the goodhearted Little Mermaid would behave very well, doing many good deeds, and in three hundred years she got to enter the realm of God like she wanted (at this point she suffered enough).
For more check out: http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheLittleMermaid_e.html