I've never realized that Disney's The Little Mermaid was not an original Disney character/story, though this shouldn't have been a surprise since Disney's princesses all come from stories developed by people outside of Disney. Like Disney they take someone's original story and add so much more to them to make them appropriate and more appealing to children of all ages.
Andersen and Disney both share the similar story lines when it comes to the main idea of the story. In both The Little Mermaid stories, Ariel wanted to ultimately become human so that she could be with Eric. She also sided with Ursula in a deal that would give her legs in exchange for her voice; in Disney's version her voice was kept in a nautilus shell by Ursula, in Andersen's version she actually gave up her tongue. She wouldn't stay human forever if she didn't end up with Eric. The punishments were different in both stories if she didn't end up with Eric, and both punishments did happen in one way or another. Andersen's story says that if Ariel didn't marry her on the dawn of the next day after he marries another woman she will die brokenhearted and will disintegrate into sea foam; however in Disney's version Ariel will return to her regular foam but will belong to Ursula.
Ariel gets her legs and is fine physically according to Disney, but in Andersen's story every time she moves it feels as if she is being stabbed in the legs and her feet bleed terribly. Eric also falls for her until Ursula deceives him by using Ariel's voice leading him to believe that she is the one that saved him, therefore he wants to marry her. It's a big commotion at the wedding and Ariel eventually gets her voice back and when Eric tries to kiss her to make the transition complete, the sun sets and Ariel is returned to mermaid form and kidnapped by Ursula.
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In the other story the prince thinks the woman he saw at the temple where he was put after being rescued was the one that saved him, so instead he marries her. Since the Prince marries the other girl instead, causing The Little Mermaid to brace herself for her awaiting death, her sisters try to save her by letting her know that they made a deal with the sea witch that if she kills the prince with the knife that they've got and let his blood drip on her feet she'll return to mermaid form and everything would be fine. She couldn't kill the prince and instead died and turned into sea form but she did get a eternal soul because she strove with all her heart to gain an eternal soul.
Disney adds more things to the story that makes it even longer than the original and a sort of musical. They're version is also not as dark as the original, and Ariel does end up with Eric unlike Andersen's story where she dies anyway. Andersen's version shows no expression towards the idea of childhood, my opinion would be because of how dark the original story was, it doesn't even seem like it is for children. Disney's version is very expressive when showing ideas towards childhood, the story itself is very colorful and appealing to children with the fun characters and songs.
The Disney version serves as an example of DeZengotita's “Me World” because Ariel is surrounded in her own world wondering about humans and they're way of life and ultimately wanting to become one herself. She represents herself in different ways whether it be by song, or by her actions.
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