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Vivien Leigh (1913–1967), as Blanche Dubois in 'A Streetcar Named Desire ' by Tennessee Williams Alfred Kingsley Lawrence (1893–1975) Victoria and Albert Museum

Exploratory Essay

This is an excerpt from the Exploratory Essay where I take a deeper look at Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid and how this is not only a fairy tale about a mermaid who got legs but how it can be a queer and trans allegory.

Many know the Disney version of The Little Mermaid where Ariel is a young mermaid that dreams of living in the human world. She asks a witch for help and turns Ariel into a human in exchange for her voice, to stay human, she has to make prince Eric kiss and fall in love with her. They fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after. However, not many know the original version by Hans Christian Andersen, where a young mermaid wants to have a human soul for the opportunity to reincarnate after she dies, something that mermaids can’t do, for they live long lives but have no soul. She loses the ability to talk and even endures the feeling of being stabbed with every step she takes just to stay human. She falls in love with a prince but later finds out the prince will marry another woman. She is filled with sorrow and tragically ends her life. When viewing these two stories, many view them as nothing more than a love story, one where it ends beautifully and the other ends tragically. However, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid can be interpreted as a queer experience because of Andersen’s own love life and can also be interpreted as a trans experience since The Little Mermaid plays an important role in many trans youth. 

To read the rest, click on this link: Not Just a Mythical Mermaid Fairy by Sherlyn Zhicay