Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

In the film, The Little Mermaid, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, King Triton changes from a close-minded father to a person who takes a chance to learn more about a foreign lifestyle. Everyone has a tendency to judge anyone that they observe for the first time. Human minds quickly stereotype others into categories that one might find suitable for a stranger just by the way they look or speak. First impression judgement is a sequence of events our minds cannot avoid doing. Ultimately is King Triton unfairly categorizing humans as bad people without truly understanding their societal ways.

King Triton’s first impression of the “barbarians” that live on land is that they are all killers and that her daughter will be in danger if she goes towards the surface. Through this statement by King Triton, the audience clearly understands that he is not accustomed to the human lifestyle and does not comprehend their reasons for utilizing the ocean. King Triton is simply judging a book by its cover and is hating on humans without substantial evidence. Similarly, in My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears, the Americans judge the narrator’s grandmother without substantial evidence of why she is doing these particular actions. This idea is reflected upon King Triton and demonstrates that if we simply take time out of our lives to understand more about others the world would be a much more peaceful place. King Triton initially becomes close-minded towards humans for killing but does not realize they only depend on the ocean to receive a resource (fish) to help humans live without experiencing starvation. Only if Triton took the time to understand why the “barbarians” were always attacking the ocean (before his daughter forced him to see the true side of humans), there would truly be no hostility.

14 thoughts on “Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

  1. Thinking about your post and specifically about King Triton’s extremely strong response to Ariel’s interactions with humans made me realize that he is portrayed as very judgmental. However I wonder if King Triton has had previous experiences with humans that we do not know about that has made him dislike them. On the other hand, since the viewers do not know of any such instances, we are left to assume that his biased views against humans are simply because of the borders and stereotypes that exist between them. Furthermore, you make a good point about King Triton judging humans without substantial evidence which is very similar to the manner in which most people judge others. You make a clear connection between this concept of judging others and “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Bathroom Sink at Sears” which is a great example from class. However, I feel like this could so easily be connected to any aspect of the world that we live in.

    Your post really made me start to think about judgements that we make upon our first interactions with anyone. I actually started to question if our initial impressions are in any way an accurate judgement of others. Obviously, it’s important to get to know others, but intuitively don’t we know which people we should get to know versus those that we should not? The little Mermaid seems to be evidence against this along with other examples from class that you have pointed out. Furthermore, thinking about the question that I have just posed it does seem pretty far fetched that our own intuition about others could possibly prove inaccurate.

    From my own experiences, in which I have always been told to never judge a book by its cover, it does seem very wrong of the King to be so rude and judgmental toward humans. Evidently, the lesson to learn from Ariel would be to not be scared of the unknown and as you said, never judge a book by its cover.

  2. Aram, your post is centered around a very true and important theme in not only, “The Little Mermaid,” but also in life. The theme we should “never judge a book by its cover.” However, I would like to take this a step further and say, we should never give a cold shoulder to foreign cultural concepts because that expands our egos and belittles our intelligence. Cleary King Triton had experienced some form or pain or suffering incurred from the humans, otherwise, why would he be so rattled to hear of his daughter interacting with humans. My question to directors Ron Clements and John Musker would be why is their such a distaste for humans? Did an event happened? I suppose they didn’t add this to the movie so they can emphasize that King Triton wasn’t biased by previous history between mermaids and humans, but rather, he was simply being arrogant and in the end, once he got to know the humans (foreign culture), he became a more noble man.
    As for your question of, “is King Triton unfairly categorizing humans as bad people without truly understanding their societal ways,” I believe the answer to this is too simple. It is a clear yes and it seems hard to counter that. Perhaps rephrase the question and ask, “why does King Triton have such a distaste for humans and after seeing how he handled the situation, what can we learn?
    I also liked how you compared King Trition’s actions to that of the Americans in “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Bathroom Sink at Sears.” There is a great macro theme shared between the two: judgement with a lack of insight.
    Your main claim is relevant in our world today. With globalization and movement of people between countries being more prominent than ever, we must approach foreign ideas with open arms.

  3. My own experiences, in which I have always been told to never judge a book by its cover, it does seem very wrong of the King to be so rude and judgmental toward humans. Evidently, the lesson to learn from Ariel would be to not be scared of the unknown and as you said, never judge a book by its cover.
    Never Judge a book by its cover

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