The Dark Truth Behind The Little Mermaid

The Dark Truth Behind The Little Mermaid

Rikki Caracciolo, Staff Writer

Warning: this original fairy tale is twisted with a dark plot. Reader discretion is advised + spoilers for Disney’s 1989 film, “The Little Mermaid”

Normally when you think of The Little Mermaid, most will think of the red headed mermaid who falls in love with a prince. While this is true- this isn’t the real or original version of the story. There’s no loveable sidekicks, catchy songs, and not even a happy ending…ish

The true story was written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen on April 7th, 1837, and essentially follows the same basic plot as the Disney remake with different and darker approaches:

The Little Mermaid (who was never named) lives with her five older sisters, father, and grandmother. Once each mer-sister turns 15, they are allowed to visit the surface to see the world above, each taking turns for a year. Once The Little Mermaid reaches 15, she swims up to the surface to see a ship having a birthday celebration for a prince. A storm breaks and the ship crashes. Seeing the human prince about to drown, the Little Mermaid saves the day and saves him, bringing him to shore. Morning breaks and she falls in love with the prince. The Little Mermaid dives back into the ocean and back where she lives. She asks her grandmother if humans can live forever, and her grandmother says that, unlike mer-people, humans don’t have a 300 year lifespan. When they die, they go to a place like heaven, and not turn into seafoam with no chance of a second chance. Wanting to have a second chance in life and a chance with the prince, she makes her way to a dangerous part of the ocean where the Sea Witch lives. The Sea Witch can give The Little Mermaid a potion that will make her a human for three days. She offers this in exchange for her voice because she has the most beautiful singing voice in the ocean. She is also told that every step she takes will be extremely painful and feel like she’s walking on knives, as well as that when she takes the potion it will feel like a huge dagger is being stabbed into her. She swims to the surface and consumes the potion, feeling the pain the Sea Witch described before. She passes out on the shore with a brand new pair of legs. She soon awakes and the prince finds her. They take her in and get her dressed and groomed. The Little Mermaid braces the pain each step, and is seen to entertain the prince. During the three days, the prince tells her that he is expected to marry from an arranged marriage. Devastated, The Little Mermaid thinks how now she’ll have to be seafoam for the rest of her life. On the marriage ship at the break of dawn, she meets with her five sisters and gives her a dagger. They explain they exchange their beautiful long hair for the dagger and explain to her why it’s so special. If The Little Mermaid kills the prince in his sleep and get his blood on her feet she’ll be able to live as a mermaid with her again. She takes the dagger and when night falls she cannot bring herself to kill the prince she used to be in love with. She accepts her fate and dives into the ocean to become seafoam forever. 

This is the original version of The Little Mermaid that a lot of people don’t know about. There are also a lot of classic fairy tales which have twisted/dark stories. Unlike this one, most are written by the Grimm Brothers.