Archive for September, 2014

September 2, 2014

When the daugther of the sea rises up to the air…

But a mermaid has no tears, and therefore she suffers so much more.

Andersen’s The Little Mermaid is a beautiful tale of love and sacrifice. I guess many will disagree with me but I always thought that there was something very empowering in the little mermaid’s struggle to be with her prince.

There is a tendency I observe in society that either puts women on a pedestal or debases them to the point of elimination. It is clear in either scenario that the woman is not considered a human-being, let alone one that is equal to the man. We are all familiar with the second scenario from the different kinds of violence all women suffer on a daily basis. But in the first scenario, the woman is claimed to be well-respected. This might be one of the greatest delusions of society. Women are loved, hated, praised, shamed, adored, etc. but they are not respected. Respect is reserved for man only. Those who claim great respect for women often merely regard them as a precious object to be admired, possessed and enjoyed. The woman is not even granted the benefit of the doubt that she might have an opinion and feelings of her own. Consequently, she is not given any choices. She doesn’t have a voice.

In the tale, the little mermaid saves the prince’s life in a storm that breaks out on the sea. How often do we come across a female assuming an active role and saving a male’s life in fiction? Later she decides to abandon her life under the sea to follow her heart. She strikes a deal with the sea witch to have legs in return for her beautiful voice. She is to suffer with each step she takes as she walks on land but she will be able to dance and glide more gracefully than anyone. So the minute she loses her voice, the tables are turned. Only the reader knows the lengths the little mermaid has gone to earn her prince’s love. The prince is enthralled by her beauty and overwhelmed by her devotion. But that’s it. It doesn’t occur to him to find out about her mind or her feelings.

But still it is refreshing to read a love story ending in tears (actually it doesn’t end with tears but I won’t get into the immortal soul bit) where the heroine gives up everything and yet can’t be with her prince rather than a love story with a happy ending where the hero gets to be with the princess who does nothing but exist like an empty shell.

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