Saturday, November 01, 2003

The Silence of Longing p1

1 November The Silence of Longing p1

Hearing about the beauty of the upper world from her sisters, only increased the longing of the mermaid to rise abover her world. The agony intensified as the years passed with each new story that her elder sisters related. Coming of age, she scorned the prestige of her social position, desiring only that which she could not have. She had no use for the awkward drag on her tail caused by unwanted social status, but only to overreach the limitations of her world to gain an impossible goal.

The mermaid rises to the surface in the evening as a great storm overtakes the sea. The natural imagery foretells the danger of her future. Rising above her world, she enters into the final hours of her life. What she desires can only bring her death, although mermaids have lifespans of three hundred years. The ship is destroyed by the fierce winds. Hearing the terror of the sailors and witnessing their helplessness against the stormy sea, she rescues the prince. Unwittingly, she trades her life for his. There is no possibility for reversal of her fate.

Rescued from the sea, the prince recovers and returns to his normal life. The mermaid is but a whisper of the morning mist as it disperses across the sea. He retains no memory of her embrace. He can not hear her voice or recognize her face among the roaring waves. Mute, she can only watch from the distance as the strand is the fine dividing line between their worlds. Like Psyche, she can only yearn for what she cannot have. She is nothing but a shadow or the wind whisper in across the sands. The old grandmother only intensifies the yearning by explaining that men have mortal souls that live for eternity, but sea-folk transform into the waves afte their lives have ended. Tormented, the mermaid longs to be human, but is rebutted by the grandmother who archly responds that such things can never be: " it is only possible if someone were to love and accept her more than a father or mother and to take his hand in his before a priest..." The conflict is set. No one would ever want her. A fish can not live on land. Something must be sacrificed to gain the object of her love: her family, her identity, her people, and her voice are all cut off with the beautiful tail. The sacrifice are made in the desperate hope of being loved and accepted by someone who can not see her presence.

So love is mute. It watches and feels what it can not express. Andersen allows redemption for his mermaid through her willingness for self-sacrifice. Although the tragedy is set, the audience is consoled with inspiration of a better world in his closing. In other versions of the story, there is none.

Sur la Lune- The Little Mermaid

Illustrations at Sur la Lune

Sur la Lune History

Sur la Lune- related stories hyperlinked


22 June 2003 The Ugly Duckling

1 December 2004 Nix of Mill Pond

3 November Silence of Longing part 2

part 2: Rusalka, Berg and literary social criticism

1 November The Silence of Longing p2

reposted on 3d November was deleted

2 November Silence of Longing Part 1

1 November The Silence of Longing p1

24 October The Waterline p1

24 October The Waterline Going Deeper p2

24 October 2003 The Waterline: Drowning p3


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