The Little Mermaid - a characteristic of a literary hero - Andersen Hans Christian

Essays on literary works - 2023

The Little Mermaid - a characteristic of a literary hero
Andersen Hans Christian

The Little Mermaid (Den Lille Havfrue) is the heroine of the fairy tale by H.K. Andersen "The Little Mermaid" (1836-1837). The origins of the plot are in the folklore theme of a mermaid's love for a person (for example, Melusina in Celtic mythology). This topic was devoted to several poetic works of Andersen. R. is one of the six daughters of the widowed sea king, of course, the youngest, as befits the heroine of Andersen's fairy tale: the smallest and weakest. Upon reaching the age of 15, the mermaid sisters received permission to go upstairs, to the shore, to the earth, in order to look at the world of people. This journey marked the maturation of the daughters of the sea king. When R.'s turn came, she realized that she wanted to live among people. The heroine saw and fell in love with a handsome prince, she decided to live a short human life (mermaids live for three hundred years), in order to find an immortal soul later (mermaids, when they die, they turn into sea foam). She managed, by paying an exorbitant price to the sea witch, to be among the people. She lost her magical voice, and every step of her lovely legs, which grew in place of the tail, caused her acute pain. But the main condition for achieving immortality was the love of the prince. When he fell in love and married another, R. died. She did not use the only chance for her salvation: by piercing the heart of the prince, it was possible, by sprinkling his legs with blood, to become a mermaid again. Of course, R. spared her beloved and died herself. R. is one of Andersen's rare tragic heroines, among whom she stands out with a special melancholy charm. But she is close to such heroines as Gerda from The Snow Queen and Eliza from The Wild Swans, with their courage, perseverance, generosity.