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The Little Mermaid" is known to children and to grown-ups worldwide, to normal and to professional readers. Children and normal readers are usually fascinated by the sad story of unrequited love. Professional readers have seen the basic dualism of the story, whether it be life versus death, culture versus nature, or high status versus low status. Psychoanalytic professionals of various schools have seen the unsuccessful individuation. To all these readings the structure is basic. To my deconstructive reading the confusion of the story is basic.
The original story by Hans Christian Andersen Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower, and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep; so deep, indeed, that no cable could fathom it: many church steeples, piled one upon another, would not reach from the ground beneath to the surface of the water above. There dwell the Sea King and his subjects (Gronlund, 36).
Discussion and Analysis
At first sight the narrative level of the story is well defined: the Mermaid wants the Prince and eternal life. Further examination shows that these projects do not at all work. The loss of her tongue, a crucial condition at one level of the story, does not count at all at another level, because the Mermaid did not use her ability to speak when she still had it. We must not imagine that there is nothing at the bottom of the sea but bare yellow sand. No, indeed; the most singular flowers and plants grow there; the leaves and stems of which are so pliant, that the slightest agitation of the water causes them to stir as if they had life.
Fishes, both large and small, glide between the branches, as birds fly among the trees here upon land. In the deepest spot of all, stands the castle of the Sea King. Its walls are built of coral, and the long, gothic windows are of the clearest amber. The roof is formed of shells, that open and close as the water flows over them. Their appearance is very beautiful, for in each lies a glittering pearl, which would be fit for the diadem of a queen.
The Sea King had been a widower for many years, and his aged mother kept house for him. She was a very wise woman, and exceedingly proud of her high birth; on that account she wore twelve oysters on her tail; while others, also of high rank, were only allowed to wear ...