Fairy Tales as Moral Lessons

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Fairy Tales as Moral Lessons

When most people think of fairy tales, they usually imagine a beautiful princess that needs to be rescued, a valiant prince that rescues her and a happily ever after involving a wedding between the prince and princess. People imagine monsters and witches, but sometimes, when they read a fairy tale they may notice an underlying moral to the story that teaches us to do good deeds rather than bad.

I read The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen several years ago and was amazed at how different it is from the Disney version we all know. In the Disney version, as with all Disney movies, there is a happy ending where the girl gets the prince. This is not so in the original version by Hans Christian Andersen. His happily ever is when the little mermaid gets a soul and gets to go to heaven because of her good deeds not marrying the prince and living happily ever after.

Hans Christian Andersen’s story tells of six mermaid princesses and centers on the youngest, much like the Disney version, but that is nearly the only thing that is the same. She is different from her sisters; she is quiet and thoughtful. Her garden is different from her sisters in that it is shaped like the sun and features a statue of a handsome boy, foretelling her love of the surface world and a human boy.

She sees a handsome prince celebrating his birthday on a ship. Later that night a storm capsizes the ship and she saves him from drowning. She places him on the shore near a religious house where he will be found and taken care of. Later we are told that she hears sailors speaking of “so many good things about the doings of the young prince, that she was glad she had saved him.”(Andersen, par.16) She learns where the prince’s castle is and spends every night watching him and falling more deeply in love with him.

After hearing from her grandmother that mermaids have no soul and are simply turned into sea foam when they die, unless...
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