The Little Mermaid and Christian Existentialism(English.ver)

Edmund Dulac
Night after night, morning after morning, the little mermaid went to the beach to see if she could find her prince.

Andersen's The Little Mermaid

Andersen’s The Little Mermaid has made me think many times. I will not comment on Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid, as I do not care for the story, but many commentaries on the original story end with the mermaid ending up in a bubble and dying, but in fact there is a continuation.

The mermaid who did not get a human soul does not go to heaven, but becomes a genie. It is explained to the mermaid that it is not a bad holy spirit and that after 300 years she can go to heaven. If she touches a good child, that day will come a day earlier, but if she meets a bad child, she will be a day later. Andersen’s message to the children is.

The Little Mermaid was to be a good child so that she could go to heaven as soon as possible.

The Little Mermaid is made up of three main elements.

(i) Existentialism

(ii) Love

(iii) Christian ideology.

 The Little Mermaid is said to have been influenced by Fouquet’s Undine. For the Christian world, the Holy Spirit of Water lives apart from the Grace of God. Perhaps it is based on the biblical interpretation that water originally existed at the beginning of Genesis. Such confrontational beings try to become human, thereby forcing the reader to imagine what it means to be human. The mermaid-like beings were set up to not have a short life span like humans. And above all, they are afraid of death: mermaids can live for 300 years, but after death they turn into bubbles. In the mermaid world, the old people have no doubt that they are happy to live 300 years longer and drift away in bubbles, and only the youngest mermaid princess yearns for human death and souls. At the same time, she begins to dream of the eternity of love.

For her, it was one ‘love’ that gave her that opportunity. The mermaid world can ascend to the human world at the age of 15. For these girls, it was their one and only chance to see the world created by God. Each of the sisters has seen many different human worlds. From the bottom of the water to the top of the water, what they see there is different. In Jungian psychology, water is the unconscious, through which girls go through the rituals of adulthood. This different landscape that they witness is also the same for human believers. Just as believers read the same Bible but have different personalities, so the landscape is different for each faith. Just as Kierkegaard said that we must quit chasing ‘truth’ and challenge philosophy by separating philosophy from theology (later refuted by Husserl), the immanent world of the mermaid is existentialist, divorced from the external world. These women live in another time, coexisting with the Christian world. Only the youngest of them, the mermaid, has acquired a ‘love’. First of all, love is the feeling of wanting to connect with the other person, but she has acquired the occult mysticism of a witch and has become human.

However, she loses her voice and her legs hurt. To get rid of this, she had to be discovered by the prince.

The Little Mermaid is also a symbol of the ‘poor’ for Andersen (note 1) It seems to have been an irony that people who had almost no human rights were coolly thinking about how they could gain them, and that it was a financial thing. Language is considered important in the biblical world. That is why in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, the Logos hymn, With God was the Word, which is also considered human, but she is deprived of her ‘language’. What was left of her as a human being was her body, and the pain in her feet, her heart. She had a heart that knew love and hurt.

The Little Mermaid was actually cherished by the prince, as a detailed reading of the original story shows. The commentary often overlooks the fact that the mermaid princess is searched for after she falls and disappears, which is also an important part of the story. The prince and princess are grieving the loss of the mermaid princess and gazing at the sea foam. The irony (sadness) is also expressed in the fact that the poorer people are, the less they are able to achieve substantial happiness and are forced to depend on God’s love, the love of adoration for God and the agape, the love that surrounds them. Andersen held until the end that the Little Mermaid had to obtain something substantial in order to exist as a human being. She had to belong to a prince-like existence in order to obtain human rights, and the marriage ceremony is the most mysterious thing in the Christian world, and is a sign of full-fledged existence, so much so that it is especially important for Catholics. Does the fact that it is unobtainable make a person’s existence worthless? Andersen put the important teachings of Jesus Christ, which are not confined to ritual as a fairy tale, into the ascending soul of the Little Mermaid. Christian existentialism, as I have named it, is also a religion that stands between the relativity of organisation and the absolute. Even if we go through the same Bible and rituals, there are personalities that are drowned out by injustice and relativity. In this context, just as the Little Mermaid chooses love over their determined and structured world, and seeks the existence of being loved by God as a person, so too the Christian has an existentialist philosophy, a ‘justice’ and ‘love’ that cannot be seen without the primacy of real existence over essence existence.

‘I fell in love with a prince’, which at first glance seems like an optimistic dream.

Compared to, for example, Charles Perrault’s read-aloud fairy tale of a nobleman’s daughter, Andersen’s cruelty draws a line in the sand. He portrayed God’s love in The Little Mermaid, where marriage and love were not connected.

He wanted the children to genuinely love the poor little mermaid.

And he wanted them to be good children so that they could go to heaven for a day.

This is not a sad story. It is a look at what we do.

(Note 1: I heard this in a psychology class in the UK, so I don’t know the source, so I can’t be certain)

Added on 3 January 2023.

MakotoTakahashi”The little Mermaid”


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