The king of the mer-people had six mermaid daughters. All were very beautiful, but the loveliest was the youngest. Not only was she beautiful, but the Little. PDF | 80 minutes read | Hans Christian Andersen's story 'The Little Mermaid' is read as a creation myth and a metaphor for woman's condition. In the near future, we will have Disney's The Little Mermaid study guide to help you caite.info
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THE LITTLE MERMAID. Far out at sea the water is as blue as the petals of the loveliest cornflower and as clear as the purest glass, but it is very deep, deeper. One of them made her little flower bed in the shape of a whale, another thought it neater to shape hers like a little mermaid, but the youngest of them made hers. The Little Mermaid. by. Hans Christian Andersen. (). F AR out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, and as clear as crystal.
If you will bear all this, I will help you. On all the ships the sails were reefed with fear and trembling, while she sat calmly on the floating iceberg, watching the blue lightning, as it darted its forked flashes into the sea. The song asks what more Ariel could be looking for, but Sebastian is not interested in an answer. Before this point in the film, Ariel had kept her grotto full of human artifacts a secret, not unlike the respondent in Gagne et al. Their appearance is very beautiful, for in each lies a glittering pearl, which would be fit for the diadem of a queen.
Furthermore, I engage with and find possibility in a mainstream short story and narrative film. Performing Transgender Identities in Mainstream Texts Transgender Identity Development as a Critical Perspective My argument for a transgender reading of the mermaid story, both in the Andersen tale and the film, is based on research about transgender identity development and coming out experiences.
These feelings of dissonance can cause anger, conflict, confusion, and frustration for transgender adolescents, as well as for their parents.
Many transgender youth display an affinity for the clothing and accessories of those whose identities match the identities they desire to perform or understand as natural for themselves. For example, Gagne et al. As transgender young people come to recognize their gender identities as socially unacceptable, they begin to censor their words and behaviors. Gagne et al. She realized that until she could come out entirely, she needed to censor or silence herself, especially in particularly hostile contexts.
While these transgender experiences do not map onto the short story and film exactly, they provide a perspective for thinking about the narratives from the lens of transgender identity performance.
Admittedly, this perspective is different from that of an audience of consumers who simply see an entertaining story. So too is it different from several common critical feminist e.
I am a feminist and believe this perspective is compatible with feminist principles. For instance, I offer alternative interpretations of some parts of the story that feminist analyses have found troubling.
Whether my analysis dovetails or departs with previous treatments of the narratives, my task as a rhetorical critic is to make an argument about one way to understand these texts Dow, A close transgen- der reading of the texts brings different parts of the narratives into focus or offers different interpretations from previous analyses.
Any particular lens provides an opportunity to examine again even texts that seem familiar or have already been explored from other perspectives. Though he was aware of his intellect and the quality of his creative work, his unfortunate appearance and roman- tic failures haunted him. Spencer instead of attending the wedding of a man he loved Wullschlager, In the short story, all six mermaid sisters are curious about the land, but the youngest is the most eager to learn about the world outside of the water.
Stone and Downloaded by [Miami University Libraries] at Just as many transgender people move from reading articles to trying on clothes to meeting other transgender people, the mermaid moves from fascination to interaction with humans. Notably, her love is for human beings, not just the prince. Andersen explained further: It seemed to her that their world was far larger than hers; on ships, they could sail across the oceans and they could climb the mountains high up above the clouds.
Their countries seemed ever so large, covered with fields and forests; she knew that they stretched much farther than she could see. There was so much that she wanted to know; there were many questions that her sisters could not answer.
The little mermaid is indignant that she does not have an immortal soul, so her grandmother tells her it is possible for a mer- maid to gain an immortal soul if she marries a human. She wants both the handsome prince and an immortal soul: Winning his love by performing as human is significant because the mermaid wants an immortal soul.
Additionally, the witch warns the Downloaded by [Miami University Libraries] at I will mix you a potion. Drink it tomorrow morning before the sun rises, while you are sitting on the beach. All who see you will say that you are the most beautiful child they have ever seen. You will walk more gracefully than any dancer; but every time your foot touches the ground, it will feel as though you were walking on knives so sharp that your blood must flow.
If you are willing to suffer all this, then I can help you. It is notable that the sea witch warns the mermaid in detail about the pain she will undergo in transition and then leaves the decision up to the mermaid.
She can help only if the mermaid is willing to suffer through pain as severe as that from knives and swords. Indeed, transitioning from mermaid to human requires violence on the mer body. Undergoing surgery is painful, time-consuming, and often prohibitively expensive Gagne et al. Despite the cost and the pain, the mermaid chooses to change her body to enable the identity performance she desires.
The mermaid is willing to pay the price and endure the pain of knives and swords for a body that matches the internal identity she claims. Butler noted that those who perform an identity different from the one others assume to be essential are often dis- ciplined for their apparent nonconformity. In this case, the very performance of the identity the mermaid understands to be natural for her brings constant pain to the mer- maid. Spencer In time, the mermaid suffers the ultimate penalty for her embodied identity performance.
The prince falls in love with and marries someone else. Since the potion comes with a stipulation—the the mermaid will die on the day after the prince marries another—she loses her chance to get an immortal soul, dies, and turns into sea foam.
Just before her death, the mermaid reflects on her impending doom: From a feminist perspective, the story is troubling in many ways. Wullschlager Downloaded by [Miami University Libraries] at However, stopping at a feminist reading of the story may overlook some of the nuances of a queer or transgender reading. Wullschlager went on, offering a queer reading: As the drama of the suffering of a social outsider and an unrequited lover who cannot express his or her passion, [this story] is still poignant.
Identity performances beyond the social norm, whether intended to find love, self-actualization, or some sense of authenticity, are not always well received by others.
Ostracism, rejection, violence, and even death may result when identity performances are not consistent with normalized expectations. Even within ostensibly welcoming places, like support groups for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and, nominally at least, transgender people, trans- gender people often feel judged or misunderstood Stryker, More seriously, rates of bias crimes, self-harm, and suicide are alarmingly higher for transgender populations than for cisgender people Gagne et al.
Before the mermaid dies, her sisters sell their hair to the sea witch in exchange for a knife. They give the knife to their sister and tell her that she can return to the sea to live as a mermaid if she will stab the prince and kill him in his sleep. Instead, the mermaid casts the knife into the sea. The final decision of her life is an affirmation of the identity performance she most desires, to live—and die—as a human. For instance, Trites contrasted the film with the short story on which it is based: Griffin con- tended that The Little Mermaid tells the story of a character who is denied access to the male love she desires.
For Griffin, the film is structured around resolving the problem of unsanctioned love. Evidence from the film supports this reading. The argument that Ariel gives up her voice to get a man overlooks the chronological development of the story. Her fascination with humanity begins far before she ever sees Eric. Ariel and her friend Flounder are exploring a sunken ship. Ariel is excited to discover a fork: Have you ever seen anything so won- derful in your entire life?
Spencer extensive collection of human artifacts: As a bird, Scuttle has access to the land and sea, so Ariel goes to him to learn about the names and uses of the human objects in her Downloaded by [Miami University Libraries] at Sebastian could have explained that the ocean is full of eligible mermen and urged Ariel to date one of them. He goes on, singing about the relative advantages to life under the sea. The song argues that the ocean is more aesthetically pleasing than land and that sea creatures spend the day swimming while humans have to work in the hot sun.
His comparison frames the ocean as superior to the land, but also a more fitting place for Ariel. As a mermaid, she should be happy in the ocean. The song asks what more Ariel could be looking for, but Sebastian is not interested in an answer.
The implication of the rhetorical question is that she need not look elsewhere because she belongs in the sea and could never be satisfied anywhere else. After Ariel is turned into a human, Sebastian encourages her to return to the sea witch, to ask for her voice back, and to become a mermaid again: When Ariel fully comes out of the closet or ocean as a human, Sebastian initially protests but eventually accepts the identity performance she is finally able to embrace.
As Schuh reported, trans- gender persons who seek medical treatment are often expected to make a case for Downloaded by [Miami University Libraries] at Upon first discovering that Ariel went to the surface to learn about the fork she had found in the sunken ship, he chastises her: You could have been seen by one of those barbarians, by one of those humans.
They are dangerous! Spencer constructs a terribly negative image of an out-group of whom he knows no one. Further complicating the coming out process, when family members do not understand or are hostile, their rejection is more hurtful and damaging to transgender people than rejection from those who are not related Gagne et al.
Many transgender people find themselves educating not just their families of origin but also their families of choice Stryker, Who could the lucky merman be? This expectation is normative because Triton does not question it. He never even considers another possibility and just presumes that Ariel is attracted to a merman. Before this point in the film, Ariel had kept her grotto full of human artifacts a secret, not unlike the respondent in Gagne et al.
Those who have no known familiarity with transgender people often make assumptions about entire groups based on stereotypes, limited knowledge, and unwarranted fears. These assumptions evolve from prejudicial attitudes to discriminatory behaviors when people take action based on those feelings, and sometimes those actions are violent or destructive Sausa, In this particular case, Triton is the king of the sea, so his unfortunate and uninformed biases are the basis of laws, rules, and restrictions.
Another parallel between Ariel and transgender experience is the issue of tempor- ary voicelessness. Even while she is finally expressing the ident- ity that has always felt natural to her, Ariel cannot immediately live into the fullness of that identity without passing through a period of silence.
After a struggle with the sea witch, Ariel gets her voice back. However, she turns back into a mermaid because her three days as a human have expired, and her orig- inal deal with the witch required that she kiss Eric within three days or turn back into a mermaid.
Spencer Triton offers his own life in exchange for hers. Triton is freed when the sea witch is destroyed. Earlier in the film, he had only harsh judgment and suspicion for humans, but, by the end, he comes to understand that Ariel identifies as a human.
Conclusion Neither of these stories is commonly understood as a story about the performance of transgender identity. Tredie Hefte. It is thus synthetic, artificial, and elaborate in comparison to the indigenous formation of the folk tale that emanates from communities and tends to be simple and anonymous. Thematically, it can also be linked to the tradition of stories about the Beauty and the Beast, just like Andersen's papercuts about the Ballerina and the Clown.
The mermaid tale has no direct predecessor in folklore, however, a close percursor of the tale is Undine, a story by Friedrich de La Motte Fouque about a water spirit who marries a human being in order to gain a soul. In Andersen's version of the story, the little mermaid suffers a lot. When coming of age, she finds eight oysters attaching themselves to her tail, torturing her. After that, she has her tongue cut out, leaving her voiceless.
She sees the Prince marry a princess and even has to dance at the party. When she despairs, she is offered a knife with which to stab the prince to death, but rather than do that she jumps into the sea and dies by turning to sea foam. With this final message, the story descends into the Victorian moral tales written for children to scare them into good behaviour.
The identity of the little mermaid, as presented by Andersen, can be read as curious, silent en lonely. Fascinated by what is above the surface, by the unknown, and by the forbidden, she shows an investigative curiosity lacking in many fairy-tale heroines. The mermaid's loss of voice conveys her aloneness in both worlds: Significance This fairy tale is important in more than one way. The Little Mermaid was written next to — or perhaps even as — a love letter to Edvard Collin. Anderson then wrote The Little Mermaid and sent it to Collin.
He intertwined words and sentences from his love letters to Collin in the story. And while working on The Little Mermaid, Hans Christian Andersen confided to a friend that writing this fairy tale had given him a new kind of experience: Perhaps partly due to this deep compassion for his characters, The Little Mermaid became Andersen's break-through — it made him an international star as a writer of fairy tales.
In this preface, Andersen states that The Little Mermaid contains a profound meaning for adults only. What could this hidden meaning be? And how has the Disneyfication of the story affected this meaning? The Little Mermaid by Disney New forms of media are creating new ways for people to record, express, and consume stories. Towards the Definition of the Literary Fairy Tale. Oxford University, 6 Andersen admits to his familiarity and consideration of Undine while writing his Little Mermaid.
Norton, , 8 Remediation is essentially the appropriation of the content of one medium into another. The film ends with the mermaid, now called Ariel, being changed into a human so she can marry her prince — Eric — after he killed the evil sea witch.
Disney admitted that the witch, now named Ursula is designed after real-life drag queen Divine. Nothing is said about the mermaid lacking a soul, she just wants to marry the prince. Prince Eric is asleep when Ariel rescues him and he dreams when she sings.
She wins him over with her music, but unlike the classical Sirens, Ariel is mute when she meets the man she wants face to face. Being voiceless, the mermaid cannot manipulate the prince or mirror his actions with her emotions, like Lucia di Lammermoor and Norma. Of course, all's well that ends well Disneyfication , but the mermaid could not archieve this on her own, she needed her friends to get the prince and she needed him to conquer Ursula.
In short, it can be concluded that in the movie The Little Mermaid, the main character has more power than in the fairy tale by Anderson, but that still, she is not an autonomous, independent agent.
Significance This movie is important because of the film's vast audience and popularity. The Little Mermaid is one of the more popular Disney princess films, receiving a 7. It was also re-released in theaters in , and re-mediated in books, audio plays, video games, musicals and so on.
In this process, the Disneyficationed version became the new standard for mermaids in general and the Andersen tale in particular.
Various generations all over the world have grown up with knowledge about The Little Mermaid, including the movie's portrayal of feminine roles, the human body, and the willingness to sacrifice for true love. Theoretical Framework We will start our deconstruction with the feminist framework, as described in Critical Media Studies: An Introduction by Ott and Mack Because of the overlap between gender and sexuality, pieces of queer analysis may be used in this deconstruction.
In order to do this, one must understand, from a feminist perspective, the concept of patriarchy. We see that from a feminist perspective, those who identify as male both sex and gender have privilege and power, while those who do not identify as cis hetero males are in a state of oppression.
They have less access to power, resources, or voice, which can lead to internalized oppression, in which those being oppressed, believe that they are inferior. Villains like Maleficent, Jafar, Hades, Governor Ratcliffe, and even Ursula are set apart as magenta-clad obstructions to the heterosexual romantic pairing around which the film revolves. Alan E. Of course, the idea of confronting Disney with the feminist framework is not new. Feminist analysis has already been used by several researchers to deconstruct Disney.
Two notable examples are Rebecca-Anne C. Both of these articles examine the idea of sexuality and body image through a feminist lens, deconstructing the ideal body image, beauty as a way of objectification, and unmasking the patriarchy that creates the Disney princess, which will also be explored during our analysis. Analyses Due to the plasticity of the fairy tale, it can be incorporated in many kinds of narrative across various cultures and traditions.
For example, scholars have linked The Little Mermaid to other works of literature, such as Dr. Our analyses will be a bit more abstract. An analysis of Andersen's The Little Mermaid soon turns out confusing, as she is a misfit in the most common systems.
There is no home-away-home structure as in the Hero's Journey: Andersen starts this structure, for the mermaid leaves her castle, but he never finishes it, for she fails and becomes foam on the sea.
In a way, the mermaid is still on her quest when the story ends. And try for example to fit the tale in the Actantial Model, same problems. The object is the prince — or is it the soul? The little mermaid swims to the beach with the Prince. The Prince is very tired. He opens his eyes and smiles at the little mermaid. Thank you,' he says. Stay here with me. And she swims home to her sisters. And she tells her sisters the story of the Prince's birthday party, the beautiful lights, the music, the dancing and the terrible storm.
I want to have legs and dance with the handsome Prince,' says the little mermaid 'That's impossible! Mermaids can never be girls! You can have legs and you can be a girl. You must go to the Merwitch. She can help you, but you must give her your tail! The little mermaid swims to a dark, ugly place. There are no beautiful, colourful sea plants. There is ugly, grey seaweed. There are no beautiful, colourful fish. There are ugly, grey sea worms and Her sisters stay behind a rock.
They see the Merwitch swim home with the little mermaid's beautiful tail. He goes to her and looks at her beautiful face. The little mermaid opens her eyes and smiles. The beautiful mermaid from the storm!