The Little Mermaid
Allegories are a useful tool for writers to convey information; Allegories representing the
growth from traditional and populist reasoning to logical reasons serve great purpose in our
society. They summarize complex and seemingly unconnected ideals into a story that grants the
insight of a social problem in a simple demonstration of entertainment. A story less renown, yet
still significantly correlated to the tale’s original roots; The Little Mermaid: highlights core facts
of the growth into progressivism from traditional creation of lawful code. In the original, Ariel
(The main character) was obsessed with the idea of living on land. Life above the ocean seemed
so wondrous and new but since Ariel lost her mother to pirates, Ariel is shamed for even the
thought; in this part of the story Music is banned from the kingdom because the King’s Wife
loved music and died to save her daughter while the family was all together creating music.
Music reminded the King of his wife and the King did everything in his power that he could to
banish music from the kingdom. For this paper I would like to analyze the character archetypes
in addition to their actions, major plots points, and how the rise of feminine influence affected
creation of laws to explain how I think The Little Mermaid: was a representation of leaving
traditional and populist legislation behind into making a more functional progressive society.
Again, music is banned in the kingdom because of the fear and sadness the king feels.
Emotion being the center of the reasoning behind legislation is key into labeling populist or
traditionalist creation of law; Not that it increases safety or lessen the discourse within the
kingdom but because he ‘did not like it’. This emotional based reasoning does not hold
legitimacy within legislation, courts need hard data as impetus behind creation of law because of
how many people are effect. In fact in the movie, because of these action rebellious sea-denizens
created music clubs hid away in pocket caverns of the ocean to enjoy entertainment. This is very
similar to the era in America’s early to mid 1900’s in which jazz was considered the ‘devil’s
music’. No credible statistics or logical examples existed to explain such bias social
conditioning, it started because individuals with power did not want to allow a cultural artifact to
grow into the mainstream that would take attention away from their ways; Ariel’s father’s fear
was the core component. This type of legislation is very dangerous to the growth of society as it
tends to postpone progressive growth by allowing social stagnancy, lack of change. Legislation
should be carefully thought, planned, and crafted as it dictates the lives of a people nation of
province and guiding them with fear can turn into a very unpleasant. Unstable emotions, banning
art, and stoic life values outlines the reality of an apocalyptic regime.
Furthermore, his emotional state reveals the flaws of a patriarchy rather quickly as a
member of his inner circle takes advantage over him, his daughters’ nursemaid. How I think this
is an allegorical example of traditionalism to progressive legislation is it shows how if a single
leader rules a people that individual is highly susceptible to stress this susceptible to being
influenced by hostile parties. The Royal nursemaid wanted to increase her power position but
through laws of royalty, the next blood in line would always hold higher command. With this in
mind, of course the nursemaid would view the daughters as a threat to her power thus seeking to
actively delegitimize their credible to inhibit their authority position. Secondly, being stressed by
the loss of his wife and the job-stress of running a nation/kingdom, the king grew blind to a
defector. His advisor and acting judge (Sebastian) was a lead singer and a highly renowned
singer in the music community. Despite this he carried out adjudication without mercy in relation
to crimes involving music. This puts Sebastian is a precarious predicament because like typical
defectors of prestigious positions the must maintain their cover by any means necessary, even if
it means being the judge who is especially harsh on musical crimes in a kingdom that banned
music. Its precarious because it puts Sebastian in a position to carry out harsh punishments,
punishments without legitimate reason and illegitimate because he is just trying to cover up
without carry who takes the blame. This surrounds the King with a liar and a traitor, two
individuals who have the king's ear that feed him advice rooted in their own vices and using his
power for their own; furthering the point that emotional based leadership is archaic because it is
so easily swayed and should be brought to attention.
The toxic patriarchy of the King’s rule first appears in the film when Ariel and her sisters
are expected to accompany their father on a walk of silence through places their mother enjoyed
when she was alive, they are expected to be silent and obey without question. What I find
significance about this is that these women are royals who will have expected duties in days to
come in their future. Individuals will face success anxiety in situation that people do not expect
them to success in. The film does not offer a gender counterpart scene in which to compare this
to but under patriarchies as a whole women did not typically have a great amount of power
influence other than the king's ear.
Throughout the film Ariel is silenced by her sisters, her nursemaid, and denizens of the
sea for making any tune whatsoever, even for humming. This is a representation of the
reinforcement of the masculine rule from her father. This is conditioning, women keeping other
women in line to appease the lead male in the setting because they are told not to and expected to
limit other from doing so. This enables in-fighting within the regime because it is populism; who
can appease the leader the best to gain his favor and prestige. Sure it is a law but it is the
informal norm-enforcement that drive that puts toxic masculinity at the center of traditionalism
being the issue. Ariel lashes out multiple times questioning why music is banned, telling the
King to move on, and calling him arrogant for continuing such practice but she is quickly
dismissed being called mean, irrational, inconsiderate, and childish for doing asking such
questions as women are in these situations. Women are called emotional for questioning norms
like this, it happens daily.
Furthermore and continuing with the traitor nursemaid, She discredits the daughters by
viewing their behavior in a masculine scope. The stages of maturity are vastly different between
the sexes; what we are told to feel, what we are expected to be, and how we are expected to act
influence who an individual will be when they age. The nursemaid is constantly telling the king
of their ‘immature’ behavior. If it were boys, these situations would be chalked-up to ‘boys being
boys’ but as it is women in this situation they are shamed for playing around, when the
nursemaid expects them to obey as women are expected to obey. The nursemaid knows the
King’s emotional weakness and is honing his biased attention to build anger. This is why
masculinity is consider an iron cage; as men are not always able to achieve goals that legitimize
their male-hood they are left weak which also threatens their masculinity, resulting in rage.
During states of rage, one is vulnerable; revealing that a monarchy is outdated and flawed.
The correlation of leaving traditionalism to progressive legislation and feminism may not
seem correlated but it was the rational opinion of a women, who saw first-hand the damage of
draconian law had on her people, that changed the king's mind. Men have ruled the earth since
the agrarian period of civilization which is also the same time that formal codes of ethic
emerged. Law created monarchies have always been ruthless and reactionary rather than
preemptive. Bringing my point full circle that the growth from traditionalism to progressivism
was the inclusiveness of using evidence-based reasoning and the only was to have the full picture
to grant the correct evidence is to draw from multiple facets of knowledge. Women were not
included in much of histories power positions thus we were only viewing the world from a
masculine lens, which paints a very misleading picture as women have typically made up fifty
percent of the population at any given time. The banning of the music was the representation of
an attempt to prevent an issue without knowing what causes the problem. The music did not kill
the King’s wife but it reminded him of what happiness his life held before and thinks ending
music will end the pain but that only causes more discourse, social deviance and infighting. Not
targeting an issue properly and carrying out operations to cease said issues is a waste of
resources. Atlantica does not have time to grow if it is being tethered down by laws that are
being upheld for the sake of control, thus progressive thought and action is required.
1. The Little Mermaid, Ron Clements and John Musker, November 17 1982.
2. Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid, C.A Reitzel,April 7 1837,
3. Donald Haase, Yours Mine or Ours?, Wayne State University Press, Vol.7, No.2
December 1993, pp. 383-402.
4. Karen E. Rowe, To Spin A Yarn: The Female Voice in Folklore and Fairytale,
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986, pp.297-308.
5. Bruno Bettelhem, The Struggle for Meaning, Alfred A Knopf, New York, 1989,