Literature, Film And Interculturality In Between: Crossing Boundaries In The Little Mermaid The Little Mermaid From Hans Cristian Andersen,Viewed From A Different Perspective

789 words - 4 pages

The Little Mermaid is a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen. It is about a young mermaid who meets a handsome prince the first time that she is allowed to go ‘upstairs’; to the surface, to the ‘Human World’. After the encounter she tries everything to get to the world of her beloved. After many sacrifices, hardships, the painful loss of her fish tail in exchange for two legs, she finally gets to her prince. When he will marry her out of free will she can remain human. But he does not recognise her.A concept that is apparent in The Little Mermaid is that of hybridity. Hybridity refers in its most basic sense to mix. It is thus the possession or occurrence of mixture. The little mermaid is obviously a mixture between fish and human, but after her sacrifice to give up her fish tail in order to get legs, she stays a mixture, now between mermaid and human; she still thinks like a mermaid, only physically seen she is a woman.The intercultural relationship ...view middle of the document...

It is painful to see how the effort that she does to get the thing that she wanted is not being seen nor appreciated. She does everything to look human, but she stays a stranger; because of her walking – which is like dancing, floating – and because of the fact that she cannot talk. She can mimic but never exactly reproduce human behaviour, and the recognition of the perpetual gap between herself and the humans will ensure her subjection.“The problem of cultural interaction emerges only at the significatory boundary of cultures, where meanings and values are (mis)read or signs are misappropriated.” The little mermaid has crossed boundaries; she has gone from the water world to the human world. But her in-betweenness is not being seen as something of value. Just the contrary; the fact that she lost her tongue makes her first a symbol of pureness and mystery, but at the end the same thing ensures her death.You can see a link between the little mermaid and some of the current immigrants when you take the mermaid as a symbol for people longing to modernization, longing to the New World. A symbol for people who want to give up everything – even their own ‘tongue’-to get another life. The mermaid thinks she is happy underwater till she sees people from the human world. There is a fascination for the things she cannot get; the other world looks so much bigger than hers. Longing to the Other causes happiness and grief, gain and loss, at the same time. The Other shares some of the grief but can never fully understand it. Integrating hurts; in exchange for a fish tale she gets two legs that feel like swords. Although she can dance beautifully she will never get rid of that pain, that deep pain that reminds her of what she has given up, what she has lost and who she once was.SOURCESChristian Andersen, Hans. Sprookjes en verhalen. Trans: Van Hees, Dr. Annelies. Rotterdam: Uitgeverij Lemniscaat, 1997.Homi Bhabha. The Commitment to Theory, The Location of Culture. London, New York: Routledge, 1994Seyhan, Azade. ‘Ethnic Selves/ Ethnic Signs: Invention of Self, Space and Genealogy in Immigrant Writing.’ In Culture/ Contexture. Explorations in Anthropology and Literary Studies, edited by Valentine Daniel and M. Peck. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1996.

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