The Little Mermaid Real Story

It is a well-known fact that The Walt Disney Company changed the majority of its films in order to make them more appropriate for children, which the original scenarios written by various authors were not. The Little Mermaid is no exception. The original story was written by Hans Christian Andersen, and was taken for adjustment and adaptation by Disney. Let’s look at the extent of changes made by the media giant before showing the film to kids all over the world.

The Little Mermaid Original Story Behind the Little Mermaid

To make it clearer, let’s see how Disney turned books into movies by comparing the movie and the original story.

The Film

The scenario shows us a young 16-year-old Ariel noticing a big ship. She swims closer and encounters her first love – Prince Eric. Unfortunately, the ship sinks shortly after. Saved by the mermaid, Eric promises to find Ariel and marry her.

Infuriated Triton deprives Ariel of human feelings and appearance. Ursula, the sea witch, easily manipulates the mermaid’s mind and promises to turn her into a human again, and receive her voice in exchange. Notably, she is given only 3 days to be kissed by the prince before her soul is taken away by Ursula.

Ursula fools Eric by using Ariel’s voice, until the given period is passed and Ariel becomes a mermaid again, making Ursula the queen of the seas. However, Prince Eric kills Ursula. King Triton turns Ariel into a human, and she marries the prince.

The Book

In the book, the mermaid has no name and is much younger. The Little Mermaid constantly dreams about living on the surface, which  is not prohibited compared to the movie version. Upon reaching 15, the mermaid can do what she wants. The girl has good relationships with her grandmother who often talks to her about the human world and its principles.

Like in the movie, she encounters a grand ship with the prince on board, and falls in love with him. The storm then destroys the vessel. She rescues the prince and returns home. Her sisters, knowing about the prince, take her to his palace, after which, the Little Mermaid starts dreaming about the human life and world. Her grandmother tells her that she can only have a soul if she marries a human being who will love her more than his own family and parents.

The Little Mermaid asks the sea witch to make her human. The witch reluctantly does that in exchange for her ability to talk and walk. Mermaid is also told that if she doesn’t marry the prince, she will die on the next day after his wedding.

The prince, however, marries another princess. On the next day, Mermaid’s sisters save her from dying and give her a knife to kill the prince and become a mermaid again. Unable to do it, she turns into foam.


Disney’s film adaptations are meant not to hurt the feeling of the young audience. Disney’s films can also be characterized by having a happy end, unlike some of the original stories. The Little Mermaid book is one of such adaptations. While the film depicts her story as the one with a happy ending, the Little Mermaid book by Andersen has a  different story and ends in a tragedy.