The Little Mermaid

Die Kleine Seejungfrau - Hans Christian Andersen, Arnica Esterl, Anastassija Archipowa

This is the tale of the Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen; the story of a young mermaid who yearns for the ideal romantic love and an immortal soul, her quest to find it and her sacrifice for that love. It is the tale of romantic love that ends in abstinence.


 A girl yearns to find the kind of love she has always dreamed of, for which she sacrifices the thing that most defines who she is – her beautiful voice –, suffers though pain, only to lose her beloved to another woman and ultimately sacrifices her life for her beloved's happiness. This is not what the search for love should be like and is a horrible depiction of the ideal romantic love.




She knew this was the last evening she should ever see the prince, for whom she had forsaken her kindred and her home; she had given up her beautiful voice, and suffered unheard-of pain daily for him, while he knew nothing of it.

From the beginning of their relationship there is an uneven power balance between the little Mermaid and the prince. She has no tongue and no way of expressing herself. The only thing that she has is her beauty and her gracefulness. There can be no true communication between them and there is no way that she can find the kind of love she seeks when she cannot even express her opinions. She is only known for her beauty and thus is objectified by the prince. He sees in her a resemblance to the girl he met on the beach and eventually marries. He treats her like a child and a pet, not as an equal.
And it is, once again, only the woman who has to love like this through servitude. And it is the woman who has to endure pain and has to sacrifice everything for her love.

I didn’t like the ending either, this tale of love that ends in abstinence has already found its ending when the little Mermaid sacrifices her life for her beloved’s happiness and dies. Her search for love is over. So should the story be. There was no need to add a happy ending in form of a consolation price for the little Mermaid; she becomes a daughter of the air and is given another chance to gain an immortal soul. While mermaids can only be obtained a soul through the love of a human, the daughters of the air can “create” their own immortal soul through acts of goodness (which is really unfair). And by the way, the idea of an immortal soul is very religious, and I highly doubt that the Bible says it's okay to create your own soul.

While I enjoy Hans Christian Andersen’s tales, I don’t think that the tale of the Little Mermaid is one of his best works.