Note: Before reading this post, I would recommend you read the original Hans Christian Andersen tale of “The Little Mermaid” if you haven’t already. You can find it here: http://hca.gilead.org.il/li_merma.html.
The original “Little Mermaid” story is beautiful and much more sophisticated than the Disney version, but it has several flaws. One flaw is the story’s belief that people have to feel pain and sorrow in order to gain status. Even if that were true, this poor mermaid suffers way too much than she should have to in order to get what she wants! I mean, she has to have the sensation of a sword slicing through her when she gains legs and have her tongue cut off, loosing her voice! When all that is over, she has to feel pain every time she walks on solid ground! That much pain is not worth anything, not even becoming human and gaining an immortal soul! This is especially true since she has no guarantee that she’ll get it. What’s more, it is not even true that pain and sorrow is required to gain status, or anything else for that matter! Hard work is required, but pain and suffering is not the same as hard work.
Another flaw with this story is that the mermaid needs the love of a human male in order to gain an immortal soul. This of course implies that women have to be loved by men in order to be whole people. The nice thing about this story, though, is that in the end, she is able to gain an immortal soul without the love of a man. Since that ultimately happens, though, why couldn’t a clever mermaid at least guess or believe that there are other ways to gain an immortal soul? If she had believed this to be true, then she could have sought out another way to do it, eventually discovering, just like she does at the end, that good deeds are all she needs to do in order to gain an immortal soul. Of course she gains an opportunity to get an eternal soul at the end by sparing the life of the prince, but can’t there be other, less heart-breaking good deeds she can do? Aren’t there at least some good deeds she can do while living with her mer-family? The story would be much better if it had unfolded that way, I think.