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Lust, Loss, And Immorality In The Little Mermaid

1965 words - 8 pages

The Little Mermaid: Of Lust, Loss, and Immortality

Under the sea, in an idyllic and beautiful garden, stands a statue of a young man cut out of cold stone – for the Little Mermaid who knows nothing but the sea, the statue stands as an emblem of the mysterious over-world, a stimulus for imagination and sexual desire, an incentive for expansion of experience, and most predominately, an indication that something great and all-encompassing is missing from her existence. Traces of curiosity and a vague indication of the complexities of adult desires mark the child mermaid; in such a stage of development, the statue will suffice. However, as the Little Mermaid reaches puberty, the statue ...view middle of the document...

However, because childhood and adulthood never exist completely separate from the influence of one another, the sea kingdom of innocence and joy is tinged with glimpses into the adult domain – glimpses which grow in frequency and intensity of curiosity as the Little Mermaid grows older. The Little Mermaid has shaped her garden to look like the sun; the sun has connotations with the over-world as well as with “son” or man (Dahlerup). The statue of a young man in her garden verifies this semblance. Such indications of another world are not given birth on its own, but rather are spurred by the figure of the grandmother, who serves as both an otherworldly messenger, as well as an embodiment of the sea world. The grandmother acts as a mother figure to the mermaids, as a center and a sustainer of a child world; however, the twelve oysters on her tail shows her to be “a little too proud of her rank” and instantly places her as an adult with desires and manifestations of such desires that extend beyond the simplicity and ignorance of childhood (Andersen 218). The grandmother’s stories and descriptions of an ulterior reality power both imagination and curiosity – and the Little Mermaid longs for the day she is “old enough” to give tangible form to her imagination and ease to her curiosity, the day that she reaches puberty. The repetitious and sequential episodes of her sisters reaching puberty and resultant discovery of the adult world come to symbolize the Little Mermaid’s own progressive nearing of the state of adulthood (Easterlin 4).

It is when the Little Mermaid breaks through the waters of the sea, and symbolically encounters adulthood in a visceral form for the first time in her life that she is faced with the desire to make the leap from childhood to adulthood permanent; however, the leap itself is a daunting and destructive task, and the exchange for one mode of self for another requires a degree of maturity the Little Mermaid is not yet ready for, but prematurely aims for nonetheless. The duality of the internal struggle between the maintenance of childhood until a future date and the desire to throw oneself unprepared into adulthood is manifested in the figures of the grandmother and the sea-witch (Cashdan 164). The stimulus of such a struggle takes place with the sight of the unconscious prince and touch of her lips to his; her need to satisfy her sexual desires suddenly becomes a driving force in her life. Seeking advice in relation to her newfound struggle, the Little Mermaid speaks with her grandmother, who tells her that in the human world, or adult world, there is immortality, while there isn’t any in the sea world, or child world. However, her grandmother affirms that the child world is much more joyous and that the Little Mermaid should be satisfied for now in the sea. Immortality stands as a symbol for purpose and meaning in an adult life – and such can be reached through marriage and sexual satisfaction. The Little...

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