The Little Mermaid Dissertation

Apparently there is some theory circulating about Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  How one gaping plot hole sort of ruins the whole movie into a d’oh type of moment.  Children and adults are jumping on the bandwagon claiming the movie would have ended a lot sooner if Ariel had just sat down and wrote a note to Eric explaining the whole situation.


I’m not convinced a letter would have worked here, people. Sure, it might have ended the movie a few songs short but maybe not in the happy, warm, aww, type of way the audience likes.

Let’s take a few minutes here, and rationally think this cartoon through.

The young mermaid just washed up on shore naked after being transformed by the sea witch. It was no accident the young maid found herself on this particular beach because she had been sort of stalking the prince for some time (relax – this is when stalking was still considered romantic and not so creepy).

In her excitement, she tries to tell Eric everything but with no voice he doesn’t understand.  This was actually in all probability a good thing.  Being a good hearted soul, he invites her into his castle to help her.

Personally, I think while she was alone in her bedchamber, she sat down and tried to write a letter.  It may have gone something like this:

My dearest Eric,

I’m writing this letter to explain how and why you found me on the beach nearly naked.  It’s actually a charming tale that I’m sure your most kind and loving heart will understand.  At least, I assume you have a kind and loving heart judging from that time I watched you dance on your ship.  Uh, but you don’t know I was there, watching, do you? Well, surprise!  I’ve been watching you for sometime now.

Do not panic.

My name is Ariel and I’m the daughter of King Tritan of the Merpeople.  We live underwater and out of sight of you humans because my father considers your people uncivilized barbarians.  I don’t though.   I have been collecting artifacts from humans for years now and my most prized possession is the statue of you.  It is so lifelike and beautiful that I have even pretended to marry it.

Anyway, I would have gone on quietly following you forever except my dad found out and had a fit.  In anger I swam away (did I mention these legs of mine are new?).

The sea witch found me and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.  In exchange for my voice (I’ve been known to hold my own in karaoke contests) she gave me legs so that I could come and be with you.  I had to sign my name to a contract and everything.

You and I can be together forever as soon as you kiss me.  It can’t be just any kiss though, it has to be the kiss of true love.  And we have to share this kiss in three days.  If we don’t, bad things will probably happen to me.  I’ll literally lose my legs and I’ll be doomed to live with sea witch for-ev-er.  Probably not a big deal.  I’m sure they call her a witch more out of jocularity than anything.

No pressure though.

I just wanted to let you know that in fact, I am the person who rescued you from the ship wreck and saved your life.  Once you kiss me – with true love – I’ll sing you a song to prove it.  For now though, you’re just going to have to trust me on this.

Your loving (former) mermaid,


The young mermaid probably went through a few versions like this and all of them ended in the fireplace.  I’m sure she read each one to Sebastian for his input.

“Oh, I don’t tink so, girl,” he answered after each rewrite.  “No, no. I may have crabmeat for a brain but even I know dat won’t work.”

I think it was a much wiser plan to let him fall in love with her over the next three days.  Eric fell in love with the girl and not the voice.  And it gave her a chance to fall in love with him and not just his pretty face and legs.

Some might still argue, “Why didn’t she at least write her name down for him?”  Simple.  She already knew his name and didn’t realize he didn’t know her name until they were alone in the boat.  Without paper. Without pen.

In the end, it is a cartoon based on a fairytale and it has a singing crab in it.  Is it really worth debating plot points?

2 thoughts on “The Little Mermaid Dissertation

  1. Not to mention that she was ignorant on many of the tools that are used above the sea. Perhaps a mermaid who does not know how to use a fork may not be aware of the functionality of a pen and paper. A tritan is appropriate to use for signing one’s name under water but a pen and paper would not be effective. She may simply not have had the ability to write a note above the sea.

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