Disney have always had a penchant for declawing fairytales. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid was far, far darker and more distressing than its perky, brightly animated Disney descendent. Andersen’s mermaid gives up everything in order to be on land with the Prince, gives up her home in the sea and her beautiful voice, gives up her tail in favour of feet that can’t walk a step without feeling like they’re being repeatedly stabbed by a thousand sharp knives.
The Prince nonetheless decides to marry a Princess from a neighbouring kingdom and the Little Mermaid’s heart breaks. A way out presents itself: she can slay the prince with a magic dagger and the shedding of his blood will return her to her original mermaid state, ending her suffering.
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