The Little Mermaid is an example of how woman were seen in society. In the fairy tale, women are characterized by appearance rather than personality by both men and women. The little mermaid mentions “But if you take my voice, what shall I have left? ” (Anderson 226). In this quote, the little mermaid believes that she cannot just be herself to win the prince’s heart. The prince also looks at women the same way because of how he talks to the little mermaid. He asks her, “You’ve no fear of the sea, have you, my dumb child? ” (Anderson 229). He treats her as if she is still a small child just because she cannot speak.
The tone helps shape the whole story into a feminist piece. Anderson relays the moral of the story for women in a cautionary tone to make them realize the message that is being said. The little mermaid gave up everything for the prince, and in the end, she paid a terrible price for it. Hans Christian Anderson’s writes her story The Little Mermaid in a cautionary tone with the usage of imagery and characterization to symbolize a feminist work of literature. The little mermaid’s grandmother demonstrates how appearance rules over personality. In the story, they characterized women in such a way that good looks are everything.
When the little mermaid asked if the humans liked mermaids, the grandmother said, “They very thing that’s so beautiful here in the sea, your fish’s tail, seems ugly to people on the earth; they know so little about it that they have to have two clumsy supports called legs, in order to look nice” (Anderson 224). In this quote, the grandmother negatively characterizes mermaids as ugly. She, being old and wise, still believes that personality will not change the way humans think of mermaids. It is not only the men who think this way; it is also the women and girls whose viewpoints revolve around this fact too.
Women are characterized by their beauty in The Little Mermaid which leads to how the story gives a cautionary tone towards the reader. The tone of the story is cautious to make women understand the meaning behind the text. When the little mermaid went to the sea witch to be changed into a human, she told her, “How stupid of you! Still, you shall have your way, and it’ll bring you into misfortune, my lovely Princess” (Anderson 226). The sea witch had already warned the little mermaid even before she made the potion that it would not go as she planned.
The little mermaid, being young and foolish about love, did what she believed was right. The tone here spoken by the sea witch gives caution towards the mermaid. Anderson uses the witch as a way to portray to the reader how it is easy to make mistakes in the matter of love. This example is given when the witch informs her that, “… and if you don’t win the Prince’s love, so that he forgets father and mother for you and always has you in his thoughts and lets the priest join your hands together to be man and wife, they you won’t get an immortal soul” (Anderson 226).
The author uses a reproving tone to demonstrate to the reader how the little mermaid is foolish, carried away in her childish dreams. Anderson characterizes the sea witch in such a way that her dialogues warn women to be careful when it comes to sacrificing themselves for anyone. The imagery used to describe how lovely the mermaid is portrays what the prince wanted as a wife. When the prince found her on the shore and took her in as one of his own people, he took care of and adored her, but he would not marry her because she could not speak. She did not have the lovely voice that she had when she rescued the prince.
He states, “She was the only one I could ever love in this world, but you are so like her that you almost take the place of her image in my heart” (Anderson 229). Hearing and seeing are two of the senses that is imagery which is used to illustrate a woman’s beauty. The prince was against the thought of marrying someone else that was not as pretty and did not have the same voice as the little mermaid had. This explains how bias the prince is. He only takes the best and will not even take someone who might not be as pretty, but has the kindest heart in the world.
He mentions “you almost” which meant that the little mermaid was almost like her; the only difference was that she could not speak; but that was enough to stop the prince from marrying her. The little mermaid never got what she had wanted. Death was her fate in the end. She gives up saying, “She knew that this was the last evening she would see the Prince for whom she had turned her back on kindred and home, given up her beautiful voice, and every day suffered hours of agony without his suspecting a thing” (Anderson 231).
The tone here also holds an importance because it illustrates how much she gave up for a prince who did not love her back the same way. In this quote, the little mermaid expresses her true feelings about the situation she has landed herself in. She was oblivious, unable to see past the prince’s beauty, and died in the end. Women do not understand how important they are; all they think about prettiness and men. The mermaid regrets leaving everything behind for something she never got. The literary element here confirms that The Little Mermaid is a feminist piece because of the cautious tone used to warn women about love.
The Little Mermaid depicts feminism through characterization, imagery and tone to describe woman through the character, the little mermaid. Anderson helps woman understand the role they play and the significance they have in society. The little mermaid gets carried away with early love and does not know what can happen when people do not think before they act. She falls in love and sacrifices her “kindred and home” for him in exchange for him to, “… [Forget] his father and mother for you and always has you in his thoughts and lets the priest join your hands together to be man and wife…” (Anderson 226).
This does not go as planned because of what the prince expects for a wife. In the end, she must pay a terrible price and die. This shows how women should be careful in decision-making and how they play their role. He demonstrates this in an intruding way so that the reader finishes feeling aware. The Little Mermaid is feminist work of literature because of the way women are portrayed and how Anderson employs the characters to give advice to women about the responsibilities they must carry in life.