The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen is a story that has somewhat stuck with society for an incredibly long time. I’m not entirely sure what catapulted it into notoriety, whether that began with the story itself or if it came from the later iterations and adaptations that arose as a result. One thing I can note, however, is that I don’t think it would be even halfway to it’s current level without Disney.
As it stands, I’m fairly certain that the majority of people couldn’t tell you that the original little mermaid was actually blonde. A few more, perhaps, could reference the sea foam and air spirits that come up later in the tale.
Frankly, I prefer the Disney tale.
In its own way, though, The Little Mermaid from Andersen and the one from Disney truly are entirely different stories. Ultimately, they’re not really comparable. Sure, they both involve a mermaid, a prince, and a sea witch but that’s really where the similarities end. Andersen’s little mermaid is a dark and cautionary tale, a commentary on kind souls and where that kindness can bring you. Disney’s is a love story.
Andersen’s has a stronger message.
If you’re looking to determine which story is going to teach you more, it is Andersen’s story that you want to focus on. There are a number of lessons to learn from the tale he tells, the most important being what kindness can bring you. And it’s not one of those, be kind so that you can receive something glorious that you want. Rather, it is that being kind and caring about others is a reward in itself that will benefit you. Selflessness because of love is rewarding and it is what gives you a soul. Selfishness does not reward anyone with such a thing.
I’ve always enjoyed reading The Little Mermaid. I’ve especially loved how it has resulted in the birth of a great number of beautiful adaptations that I have fallen in love with many times. It’s a story that I’ll always deeply appreciate and be grateful for. And I cannot wait to see all the retellings that will come of it in the future as I have loved a great many of the ones that have already come along.