The image of the Little Mermaid in the fairy tale of the same name by H.-K. Andersen - Andersen Hans Christian

Essays on literary works - 2023

The image of the Little Mermaid in the fairy tale of the same name by H.-K. Andersen
Andersen Hans Christian

In myths, legends, the relationship of mermaids with people develops according to one scheme: a mermaid, taking revenge on a person for her death, seeks to return the right that a person has - the right to an immortal soul. Therefore, the task of the mythological mermaid is to make a person fall in love with himself, enter into a love relationship with her, because only in this way can she regain her immortal soul. The love of a person for a mermaid, as it were, compensates for the evil that a person once inflicted on her. The mermaid received the right to revenge, the right to the death of a person from the very beginning. It is hostile to a person who forgets that he created this hostility himself.

People have ideas about mermaids in Andersen's fairy tale. “In a small bay, she (the little mermaid) saw a whole crowd of naked children who were splashing in the water; she wanted to play with them, but they were frightened and ran away, and some black animal appeared instead of them, and began to yelp at her so terribly that the little mermaid was frightened and swam back into the sea. It was not by chance that the children were frightened of the mermaid - apparently they know what kind of creature appeared in front of them and why they should be afraid of it. We see the world of people in Andersen's fairy tale through the eyes of another world, through the eyes of a mermaid. The mermaid is attracted to this world, but it is incomprehensible and terrible to her; people are also afraid of the mermaid, as in mythology, where there are even amulets from her and all kinds of means of salvation.

Just as people do not forget about the possible appearance of mermaids, constantly being wary of them, so Andersen's little mermaid thinks about people, but not being afraid, but admiring their world. “And so the princess remembered these wonderful forests, green hills and lovely children who can swim, although they do not have a fish tail.”

Let's look at the shipwreck scene where the mermaid resembles a siren because she sits on a rock and sings. She is not afraid of this element, but by people she herself is perceived as a sign of death, and maybe as the cause of it. After all, a siren in Greek mythology is a demonic creature, “born by the river Achellois and one of the muses, these are half-birds - half-women who inherited wild spontaneity from their father, and a divine voice from their mother. They dwell on the rocks of the island, littered with the bones and dried skin of their victims, who are lured by singing.” Therefore, there are echoes of mythology in Andersen's fairy tales. “She sat down on the biggest rock, the wind blew her long hair, and the sailors frightenedly walked around the mountain far away ... The sails were removed on the ships, people rushed about in fear and horror, and she calmly sailed on the icy mountain and watched the fiery zigzags of lightning, cutting through the sky fell into the sea. ”The opposition of mermaids, sirens and humans is felt, we see the frightened attitude of people towards the sirens, who, in their opinion, bring death at sea. Sirens are the messengers of death. “The little mermaids saw that the ship was doomed to death, they swam up to it and sang with gentle voices about the wonders of the underwater kingdom and persuaded the sailors not to be afraid to sink to the bottom.” Andersen, leaving this idea, nevertheless reconsiders it. This is how a person perceives the mythological world, this person thinks that the sirens are the cause of his death, but in reality everything is not so. If we turn again to mythology, we will see that the main goal of mermaids, and other mythological creatures, is to destroy a person or at least harm him. Mermaids spoil crops, steal clothes, drag young girls into the water and lure men. In Andersen's fairy tale, mermaids are peaceful creatures, who not only do not harm people, but also save them. Mermaids have respect for the human world: the grandmother calls the world of people “high society”. The sea witch helps the little mermaid enter this world.

But, entering the human world, Andersen's little mermaid loses the appearance of a mermaid, refuses what makes her a mermaid. She actually ceases to be a mermaid. It will turn out that the little mermaid will not become a person, as she dreamed, and she will not be able to become a mermaid back. The idea of the danger that the mermaids bring remains in the fairy tale. Andersen interprets this idea also aesthetically. For a human, the mermaid's tail, as the witch explains to her, is ugly. And in order for the little mermaid to be accepted in the earthly world, she needs to have a human image, a human appearance, that is, to be a person.

The mythological mermaid can be found in the water, and in the fields, and in the forests, and on the trees, and even seen from the window of your house. Therefore, we can conclude that the mythological mermaid, unlike Andersen's, can have human legs (runs across the fields, hides in haystacks).

* “At the seaside, the oak is green;

* Golden chain on an oak tree;

* And day and night the cat is a scientist

* Everything goes around the chain;

* Goes to the right - the song starts,

* To the left - tells a fairy tale.

* There are miracles: a goblin wanders there,

* A mermaid sits on the branches ... ”

Following the behavior and location of the mythological and Andersen mermaids, we can say that the relationship with the people of the mythological mermaid is fundamentally different from the relationship with the people of Andersen's little mermaid.

Having removed the theme of evil caused by a man to a mermaid at a time when she was still an ordinary woman, Andersen in a fairy tale does not oppose, but compares and connects two worlds - human and fabulous, two creatures - mythological and human. And it is not enmity and revenge that unites them, but love.