Often times people forget that Walt Disney got many of his ideas for movies from previous fairy-tales and folklore. Since I was young my personal favorite Disney movie has been The Little Mermaid.. However, it scarcely crossed my mind as I grew older that there was a different story contradicting almost everything in the film. Despite bearing some similarities, the striking differences between Hans Christian Andersen’s and Walt Disney’s tales of The Little Mermaid have just furthered my love for Disney’s version.
Andersen’s tale of “The Little Mermaid”, originally published in 1837, features a nameless mermaid who is referred to, simply, as the Little Mermaid. She is ten years old at the beginning of the story and is the youngest of the Sea King’s six beloved daughters. The youngest sister is described as the loveliest of her mer-sisters, but much less confident and outgoing than the five others. The opening scenes of the fairytale say that the Little Mermaid “was a strange child, quiet and thoughtful,” (Andersen 2) making it seem as though she was a weird and timid girl.
In Disney’s film The Little Mermaid, originally released in 1989, the mermaid is known by the name of Ariel. In this adaptation, she is sixteen years old at the start of the film and the youngest of King Triton’s (The Sea King) seven daughters. In this film, Ariel is portrayed much different from how Andersen described his Little Mermaid. Ariel is a very joyful character who has an adventurous and vibrant personality. She has a mind of her own and does much of what she wants to, whether it’s against her father’s rules or not. Showing her independence, Ariel often says things along the lines of “I 'm not a child anymore!” to her...
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...is quite easy to see that Disney portrays his prince character much better. Eric is kind and respectful toward not only his friends, but his whole kingdom. When he finds Ariel, Eric takes responsibility for her and ensures that she is cared for properly. Andersen 's Prince may tolerate his kingdom, but he regularly uses Ariel to busy himself because she is readily available. Using someone when they are vulnerable does not seem like much of a prince-like trait to me.
As shown time and time again, it is easy to see that both Andersen 's and Disney 's version of The Little Mermaid have very distinct differences. Although it is strange that two stories could be so similar yet have so many striking differences, it is apparent which tale I prefer. The very grim and gruesome differences in Andersen’s story have just furthered my love for Disney 's film, The Little Mermaid.
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