Movie Misconception: What Are Ariel’s True Colors?

   When we watch movies or read stories, we’re always what I call “protagonist blinded”. We are wired to root for the protagonist, and while doing so, seem to be blinded by all the negatives they do. For example, in “Sea Story” by AS Byatt, we are blinded by all of the psychotic things he does like stalk Laura at the bar, continuously email her when all his messages go undelivered and harm sea life in an attempt to message Laura. Can you now realize a movie you watched where a character you were “rooting for” does horrific things? As kids, we always viewed The Little Mermaid, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, as a fun and uplifting family film that captures a mermaid attempting to gain love and affection. However, as we grow old and become wiser, we see that the once seemingly pure Ariel is actually sinister.

The 4th commandment is “Honor thy father and mother”. This statement means children must obey their parents, show them respect and take care of them when they’re old, Ariel doesn’t do any of that. Right at the beginning of the movie, Ariel can be seen breaking one of her father’s rules to go above water and being in contact with human life. Even though her father has told her multiple times no to do so, she ignores him and does so anyway. Also when her father, one of the most powerful men in the sea, confronts her she doesn’t apologize but rather talks back and reasons her case. Ariel doesn’t show respect nor obedience to her loving dad just trying to protect his daughter. At the end of the movie when her dad grants her legs, how is she just going to leave her whole family behind? How is she going to not say bye to her sisters and or take care of her dad when he grows old? This is a selfish act. The desperate Mermaid can also be seen as sinister when she is in contact with the devil. Ariel was lured by evil entities and signed a deal with the devil, like the classic story “The Devil and Tom Walker”. Ariel can be symbolized as “Tom”. Both get into contracts with the Devil to obtain something that will give them physical and or mental wealth. When Ariel fails her contract, the one whom she shows disrespect to bails her out. She leaves without even apologizing for being the cause of this whole mess. Now what if her contract with the devil was a success? She would’ve left everything/everyone behind without anyone knowing what really happened. She doesn’t care about those who she grew up with. Ariel is seen as a sinner when she saves the prince. If her dad Triton controls the sea, I believe he could’ve been the cause of the shipwreck because he didn’t like humans. Ariel messed with the destiny of the humans by going against her dad’s will.

     The view of Ariel is a misconception. Young girls see her as a role model but do we really want our younger generation to grow old and be a so-called “brat”? Ariel was selfish,caused all this danger, almost risked her dad’s life as well as the rest of the sea (because Ursula was almost in power) just so she could follow her lover.


6 thoughts on “Movie Misconception: What Are Ariel’s True Colors?

  1. I honestly had not thought of the fact that Ariel’s actions could be seen as selfish until I read your post. You make a really compelling point when you reference the fourth commandment and explained what exactly it means from a religious standpoint. I agree with you that Ariel is very rebellious against her father, but I feel like it is not really accurate to call her “sinister”. I only say this because sinister has an association with evil and usually a foreboding feeling. Therefore, I think to call Ariel sinister would be very close to calling her evil and thus implying that he intentions were evil. However, it is very clear that she does not ever act with an intention to harm anyone or anything. Ultimately, it is because Ariel is so kind and caring that she even has this passion for humans anyways. In all honesty, Ariel’s rebellion seems almost identical to how teenagers rebel in the world. You know, going places we’re not supposed, or hanging out with people our parents don’t like.On the other hand, I think you make a really good point that her actions could be seen as selfish and don’t really seem to do any good for the people around her.

    Ariel is solely driven by her desire to understand humans and the idea that she believes that humans are no different than her. It is because of her drive to collect human objects and also go to the surface of the water that she does appear to be rather selfish. As you said, it is when she is out collecting these objects that she manages to forget about the performance she was supposed to be in with her sisters for her father. Evidently, Ariel does not put anything before her desire to explore human life. Honestly, I think this is why I have come to love Ariel so much as I’ve gotten older. She never lets anyone or anything stand in her way when it comes to chasing her passions. She follows her passionately follows her dreams, how could anyone be mad at her that?

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  2. Josh, you propose a viewpoint that I don’t believe many people may consider when watching such a film as “The Little Mermaid.” As you used the term “protagonist blinded” I saw common similarities in many of our readings that we have done so far. Another example of this is in Martin Kohan’s “The Mistake” when the narrator is stalking his ex-lover by asking his friends in Uruguay if they have seen her and then proceeding to chase her. Although we see a desperation of love and good intent by the protagonist, sometimes these negative themes of obsession and stalking may slip through the cracks.
    I agree with Julias comment above when she states, “Therefore, I think to call Ariel sinister would be very close to calling her evil and thus implying that he intentions were evil.” I also don’t believe sinister is the right word to use for ariels actions because it proposes that she meant harm and has a negative connotation to it, nevertheless I understand what you are trying to say and I believe your have many very good points. She is disrespectful, overly adventurous, selfish, and daring. I believe these are many qualities that many teenagers have and may impose negative externalities, however I do not believe they are sinister, but rather just a part of life.
    I also found it interesting that you mentioned the 4th commandment because ultimately this is a human value. However, this is profoundly interesting because of the struggle of communication and understanding between humans and mermaids, yet it is clear that the two different species share many of the same values.

  3. An interesting idea with “protagonist blinded” and I think many of us succumbed to this effect while reading a fairy tale or watching a movie. I am writing a paper on critical thinking, so your theory is very handy. While searching for information, I found this useful source which contains unique papers from professional writers. Having compared with your hypothesis, I took a different look at the heroine of Hans Christian Andersen. In real life, the “blindness” that you are talking about is also present because each of us tries not to notice the shortcomings of loved ones. It is natural for all of us to have flaws and make mistakes, so it is important to analyze these things. Thank you for the exciting theory and food for thought.

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