You’ve got seemingly heard the story of “The Little Mermaid” many occasions earlier than. It begins with a mermaid longing to discover the human world — a longing that intensifies when she falls in love with a prince. She then exchanges her voice with a sea witch for the chance to turn into human, and although the ocean witch almost ruins every part, in the end, the mermaid will get her fortunately ever after. That story, which was most just lately retold in Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” starring Halle Bailey, is a basic, age-old fairy story . . . or is it?

Truly, the “Little Mermaid” story most of us know and love is a rewrite of a a lot older, a lot bloodier fairy story. In 1837, per ScreenRant, Danish author Hans Christian Andersen penned the unique “The Little Mermaid.” It begins equally to Disney’s acquainted model, beginning out by specializing in a mermaid longing to be with a prince whom she will be able to’t attain. However in Andersen’s model, the mermaid’s commerce with the ocean witch requires a bit greater than her voice. As an alternative, the ocean witch cuts out the mermaid’s tongue and provides her a pair of legs, although she warns her that each step she takes will really feel like strolling on knives. The ocean witch additionally provides the mermaid a horrible ultimatum, telling her that if the prince marries another person, she’ll die the morning after his wedding ceremony.

Andersen’s model additionally does not precisely have the fairy-tale ending we’re used to. In his story, the prince falls in love with one other girl, and the mermaid prepares to die. Then, on her final night time alive, her mermaid sisters come to her and say they’ve bargained with the ocean witch and offered their hair in trade for a magic knife. However there is a catch — to be able to survive, the mermaid has to make use of the knife to kill the prince. Devastated, the mermaid chooses to sacrifice herself as a substitute. She jumps into the ocean, and by the morning, she’s nothing greater than sea foam. Nonetheless, after her demise, the mermaid meets mysterious airborne beings that inform her that her selflessness means she has an opportunity to achieve an immortal soul. If she makes use of her subsequent 300-year lifespan within the spirit world for good deeds, they inform her, she’ll be welcomed into heaven.

Intriguingly, the tragic story might have been impressed by Andersen’s real-life heartbreak. Simply earlier than Andersen wrote “The Little Mermaid,” per Lit Hub, he realized that his longtime pal Edvard Collin was engaged to a girl. For years, per the outlet, Andersen had been writing Collin letters that expressed romantic emotions towards him. “I languish for you as for a pretty Calabrian wench . . . My sentiments for you are those of a woman,” Andersen wrote in a single letter. “The femininity of my nature and our friendship must remain a mystery.” Via that lens, Andersen’s story may be learn as a metaphor for suppressed queer need.

It doesn’t matter what model of “The Little Mermaid” you like, although, all of the tales appear to say one thing concerning the ache of being excluded and the will to turn into a part of a world you’ll be able to’t fairly attain — and that theme is so common that it is not arduous to see why the story retains being advised and retold.

“The Little Mermaid” is now streaming on Disney+.