‘The Little Mermaid’ story has dark origins

Camila Nadalet

We all know the classic Disney princess stories and their happily ever after endings. The girl falls asleep in the forest and is awakened by the soft kiss of a handsome prince and they fall in love, the measly servant of a daughter gets to go to the ball where she loses the shoe that ends up leading her to her prince Charming, and the lost princess, locked in a tower by her evil mother, gets rescued because of her hair by the thief and the two of them proceed to the castle where they live in peace and harmony.

Disney is playing some games with us, though, because not all of those stories have a happy ending like we have all grown up thinking. So, here is just one of the classic Disney Princess stories and how it really happened.


The Little Mermaid

The version as we know it goes a little something like this: Ariel, The Little Mermaid, has a strong desire to become human after having fallen in love with Prince Eric. So, she goes to Ursula, the sea witch, to ask for legs and the ability to live on land. She is granted this wish, the only caveats being that she will lose her voice for the time she is human, and only has three days on land unless she can get Eric to fall in love with her. Though she experiences some struggles along the way, Eric does in fact end up falling in love with Ariel, they get married and she gets to live happily ever after on land with her prince.

How was this story originally written, though? Well, Hans Christian Andersen, original author of “The Little Mermaid,” is not as nice as Walt Disney.

The story begins just like the version that we all grew up with. That is, Ariel falls in love with Eric, wants to become a human and her wish is granted. Not without a couple added caveats, however. Similar to the children’s version, “The Little Mermaid” must give up her voice in exchange for becoming a human and also only has three days to make the prince fall in love with her and become her husband.

However, things begin to get a bit darker as the story progresses. The Sea Witch also makes it so that every time Ariel takes a step, it feels as though she is walking on sharp knives. Additionally, if Ariel cannot get Eric to marry her by the third day of being human, she will die of a broken heart and turn into seafoam for the rest of eternity. If he marries her, however, she gets to stay human.

Once Ariel is found on the shore by Prince Eric, he does find her to be a very captivating being, and they do spend quite some time together. When it comes time for him to decide on a wife, having to choose between Ariel and the neighboring princess, Eric tells Ariel that he will not marry the other princess. In the end, he does end up getting onto that wedding boat and committing himself to the neighboring princess, all the while making the Little Mermaid realize the fate that is at hand for her.

After the marriage, Ariel is heartbroken and knows that she awaits her imminent death; but before turning to seafoam, Ariel’s sisters emerge from the water, handing her a knife that was given to them by the Sea Witch. With this knife, Ariel is given a chance to be able to become a mermaid once again. In order to do so, she must take the knife and kill Eric with it. Once she has completed the murder, she must let the blood drip onto her feet and she will become a mermaid yet again.

Ariel cannot bring herself to kill the prince, however, and just as the sun is beginning to rise, she throws herself from the wedding boat into the water and becomes seafoam.

So there it is. One of the many beloved Disney stories exposed. While this may be shocking to some and many likely do not want to hear of yet another lie from their childhood, this may be a good thing to know around this time of year. Perhaps it is worthwhile to do some research on some other horrifying and spooky princess stories to share with your friends just in time for Halloween.