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The Profound Journey of Self-Realization in "The Little Mermaid"

Unveil the true essence of Andersen's iconic tale

By Elle SunnyPublished 7 months ago 5 min read
The Profound Journey of Self-Realization in "The Little Mermaid"
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

When choosing a lipstick, I stumbled upon an intriguing question: "Why is the Mermaid Princess shade so popular?"

One young lady described the Mermaid Princess shade like this: "The very mention of its name conjures images of dreamy mermaids and shimmering allure. In reality, it's a sheer rose-red with a touch of pearlized gold, a mere stroke giving a glistening, dewy effect, both dreamy and exuberantly youthful."

Indeed, as we envision the quiet little mermaid sitting on the reef, yearning for love amidst the glimmering waves, the mental imagery is profoundly beautiful.

At times, I find myself daydreaming about having a mermaid's tail! Works of art, music, literature, and even animations inspired by the theme of mermaids abound. Notable examples include Rumiko Takahashi's 'Mermaid Forest' and Momoko Hanamori's 'Pearl Mermaid.'

However, the most beloved of all is probably the story of the Little Mermaid: the tale of longing for love, the agony of sacrificing for love, the unexpected twists and painful endings – it truly touched the hearts of many, myself included.

Moshé Mizrahi's essay, "The Ever-New Little Mermaid," always makes me revisit this beautiful story whenever I delve into fairy tales. Back then, like many others, I believed it to be a tragic love story. While the ending was somewhat elevated, it couldn't change the inherently heart-wrenching nature of the story.

But in reality, we were all mistaken.

Love is indeed the most splendid color in this story, as the little mermaid's unrequited love beautifully portrays the sweet and bitter aspects of love. However, Hans Christian Andersen teaches us that the essence of 'The Sea's Daughter' lies not in love but in 'self-awareness.' It can be said that Rumiko Takahashi's 'Mermaid Forest' is one of her best works: 'If one day I vanish, what will you do?' 'I will search for you.' 'What if you can't find me?' 'I will keep searching.'

The Little Mermaid is different from other mermaids. She isn't content with the status quo. She yearns for sunlight, for love, and she understands that she is a 'lesser being,' desiring to reach a higher spiritual plane. This, in itself, is a manifestation of self-awareness, such as in this passage:

'Why can't we have an undying soul?' the little mermaid asks. 'If I can turn into a human, even for just one day, I'm willing to give up the hundreds of years I could live here. You must never entertain such thoughts,' the old grandmother says. 'Our life here is far happier and more beautiful than among humans. In that case, I would have to die and become a bubble in the water. I won't be able to hear the music of the waves or see the beautiful flowers and the red sun anymore! Can't I ever obtain an undying soul?'

To delve deeper, it's important to note that regardless of whether the prince loves the little mermaid or the shape she takes before becoming human, her fate is predetermined. Whether or not the prince has feelings for her is essentially inconsequential. Andersen seemed to favor the concept of 'mermaids living for three hundred years and then dying to become bubbles in the water,' as he wrote many stories about mermaids. This idea of birth from bubbles and the essence of the ocean foam are closely related.

In this context, it's worth mentioning that the incredibly beautiful goddess Aphrodite was born from seafoam in Botticelli's iconic painting, 'The Birth of Venus.'

So, why did Andersen insist on such an ending? In truth, he wanted to provide the little mermaid with a better conclusion, as evidenced by his original title for her, 'Daughter of the Air.' His letters and the revisions he made to the ending clearly convey his intentions. After modifications and deletions, Andersen used the narrative to tell us that the focus of the story wasn't love. Besides his personal letters, his deletions regarding the ending further reflect his sentiment. Initially, there was an additional passage at the end of the tale. The little mermaid said, 'How I wish I could obtain an undying soul in the human world, even if it were just for a single day, to experience the joys of human life with the prince whom I adore.' At this point, Andersen was intent on providing the little mermaid with a happy ending, evident from his efforts in her character development.

After all, the little mermaid is not imprisoned in a tragic love story. Instead, her journey reflects the pursuit of a higher form of self-realization, a transformation from a lowly creature into a self-aware being who values independence and yearns for more than mere survival. Andersen's revision signifies a shift from the traditional notions of love and its sacrifices to a broader perspective. It is a celebration of the little mermaid's quest for an everlasting soul and ultimate freedom. This story is a revelation of her profound pursuit of self-awareness, her understanding of the significance of existence, and her courage to break free from the constraints of a sheltered existence. In essence, it conveys the journey of a young woman from dependence on others to the independence and pursuit of her own happiness.

If you are perplexed about this question, it might be due to a lack of understanding of the historical and cultural context of 'The Little Mermaid' and the true intentions of its author, Hans Christian Andersen, who was a devout Christian. He cherished the concept of the story being centered on self-realization, transcending love and personal desires. The sacrifice and transformation of the little mermaid echo religious undertones and feminist themes. The sacrifice represents a journey from basic survival needs to the highest level of self-actualization, as outlined in Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

The Little Mermaid's transformation is a testament to her desire for more than love; it signifies her pursuit of self-realization and self-actualization. The story's end is a celebration of her liberation and empowerment. Rather than being confined to a conventional love story, she becomes a symbol of female independence, freedom, and the pursuit of faith. It is essential to recognize that the Little Mermaid's choice to relinquish her voice and even her life for a chance at eternal existence is not solely for love but for self-realization and freedom.

In conclusion, the Little Mermaid's quest for self-awareness and the pursuit of an everlasting soul is the heart of the story. Her ultimate sacrifice is not solely for love but for independence, faith, and personal growth. The story transcends the traditional constraints of love and demonstrates the evolution of a self-aware soul in the face of life's choices. This transformation from dependence to independence is a powerful message of self-actualization and empowerment. It is a celebration of the Little Mermaid's journey towards becoming a symbol of feminine strength, freedom, and faith."

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About the Creator

Elle Sunny

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Comments (2)

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  • Test7 months ago

    Well Written

  • Alex H Mittelman 7 months ago

    Thats interesting. That shade sounds inspirational!

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