Part of Our World?

I think we can all agree that it appears the main characters in The Little Mermaid, Ariel & Eric, are perfect for each other. They have so much in common. They are both royalty. Ariel is the princess of the sea and Eric is the prince (where are his parents?) on land. They are both heroic. Ariel rescues him from drowning and Eric rams a sunken ship into Ursula’s stomach to rescue her. They both even have blue eyes! On the surface, the only real difference they have are the fins. And after going through so much to be together, they truly deserve to live happily ever after. But that’s the question: is that really possible? I honestly don’t think so…

ariel weddingThere is a fundamental difference between Eric & Ariel that runs more than fin deep. We can assume that Ariel, like all mermaids, must not eat seafood. This assumption is based on the fact that many of her closest friends are sea creatures that can talk, sing & dance. I think it is safe to say that the eating of her sea buddies would be abhorrent to her people and one would hope that she wouldn’t be able to stand even being around someone who practiced that type of cannibalistic murder. But that is exactly what humans do…that is exactly what Eric must do. There is no doubt that Eric eats seafood. As his castle in on a harbor, it is more than likely a primary staple of his diet. How would Ariel ever be able to reconcile this? Would she expect Eric to completely change his lifestyle? Would she try to ban all seafood consumption throughout the kingdom? But wait. She could hear Scuttle talk too. That must mean that all animals can talk and she would want to stop the ingestion of any living creature, right? I have a feeling that they didn’t discuss any of this during their short engagement.


But maybe I am giving Ariel a little too much credit here. Maybe she would be ok with the murder of her friends. If we look at her actions during the meal that follows the battle between Sebastian and The Chef, we see Ariel comfortably dining at the table enjoying a meal in which the main course is stuffed crab. This does not appear to bother her in the slightest. She is more focused on her hair and Grimsby’s pipe. Sebastian’s cousin is the only thing on Eric’s plate in this scene so she must watch him eat the crab before the meal is over. How can she do this? Is love so important to her that she would be willing to condone the genocide of her former throne’s subjects?

What do you think? Could they live happily ever after?

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  1. Very valid points made here (and hilarious if I may add). I would dare to guess that Ariel will first try and get him to change, telling him the benefits of a vegetarian diet (even though kelp may be her only specialty). He will try it for a month, and then go back to his carnivorous ways. First he will sneak meat in his diet. Then he will remember he is a prince and shouldn’t have to tip toe around his own castle. Ariel will discover him, express her disappointment, and remind him of everything SHE gave up to be with him, making him feel shameful he couldn’t make this ONE “sacrifice”. I’m not sure where it goes after that.

  2. Great post! As soon as my son watched (and fell in love with) The Little Mermaid, he stopped eating seafood. He also asked me why Ariel’s dad let her get married when she was only 16. 🙂

  3. Lol, funny post! My inner Disney nerd thinks that they’ll find a way to make it work though. Ariel always wanted to be part of the human world anyways, so I guess that means she’ll have to start liking their food!!

  4. I imagine Ariel must eat seafood at home too. I live on land, and even have pets (friends) of other species, but I am not a vegetarian (at least not any more). Perhaps not ALL sea life is sentient?

    1. I can see that…obviously the shark doesn’t seem to speak as it attempts to kill her and Flounder. But if you notice, the only sea character that is shown eating a living creature is Ursula. The other reason I think that might not be true is that when Triton rails against humans, he calls them ‘fish-eaters.’ If that was something that mermaids could be categorized with, I don’t think it would have the same weight that Triton intends.

      1. Converting to a vegan diet is one possibility, but perhaps just eliminating seafood would be likely.

        However, that discounts one vital likely fact: I doubt the merfolk would be vegan. The circle of life would be evident in the sea, also. Perhaps they supplement their diet with herds of domesticated sealife intended for eating. We don’t eat our companion animals, either, but most humans eat non-companion domesticated animals raised for that purposed and killed for food according to anti-cruelty guidelines. Perhaps the merfolk have similar rules?

        I don’t think it would cause domestic disharmony for Ariel to suggest changes to what ought and ought not to be eaten according to the hypothesised guidelines. I think Eric would be horrified to learn that the fish were self-aware. That alone might change his views on seafood.

        Certainly, from a diplomatic perspective, Eric would want cordial relations with his father-in-law’s kingdom. A treaty that included an agreement on acceptable harvesting seafoods would be likely, in exchange for fair seas for trade, fishing and leisure boating.

        Plausible, you think?

        1. Completely plausible. The only problem is that when Triton is talking about humans he calls them ‘fish eaters.’ If the mer-people also ate some varietal of fish, this wouldn’t have the same meaning when he said it to his Ariel. If would be like me calling a cannibal a ‘meat eater’…thanks for your insight!

          1. I don’t think ‘fish eaters’ would encompass all sea life. Since fish are (in the movie) demonstrably sentient and companion animals, they would be taboo. However, plenty of sea creatures aren’t fish, and might be on the menu. Your example of the sharks was a good one; what about sea urchins? Prawns? Merfolk are half fish, so the fish taboo makes perfect sense, but ‘non-related’ species might be a different matter and subject to less easily differentiated exclusion criteria (i.e. crabs no, prawns yes). This would still be consistent with a complete taboo against eating fish.

            Respect of intercultural eating taboos is almost universal in a diplomatic context. I doubt the White House serves beef steak to visiting Indian dignitaries.

            Eating taboos being enforced through treaties is not a novel concept, either, nor are fishing exclusions/restrictions. Consider Japan and the international protest regarding the whaling industry. International tribunals have allowed whaling for research purposes, but not commercial purposes – it is, in effect, an attempt to enforce a dietary taboo.

            I admit, I had the same mental question after watching TLM. Plausible possibilities are hard to come by when you consider there was clearly a well organised fishing industry that would be seriously impacted by hypothetical treaty conditions..

            1. You definitely make some good points. Still not sure I could see the mer-people eating a fellow sea creature. The only sea character we see eating another sea animal is Ursula (a scared prawn I think)…and she is banished from the kingdom. I have a feeling that this is one of the many reasons she was exiled.

              I think your last part is the biggest issue. I agree that Eric and Ariel could have possibly attempted to form treaties with Triton but the impact on their kingdom could potentially be devastating both as a source of revenue and the livelihood of the people. Sure they could make this edict and completely change the foundation of the government that was already established along with subsequent laws for anyone who broke the treaty. But this would create potential unrest in the kingdom and make the reign of Eric & Ariel short by way of a coup or a revolt. Unless there was a way for everyone to see that fish (and other animals…let’s not forget them) could talk, sing and dance…that might be another story then.

              Love the thoughts! Keep ’em coming!

            2. I agree that the fishing industry aspect is problematic, but perhaps there would be alternatives. For example, Ariel and the other mermaids wear sea shells, which, if they are vegan, would be problematic, lending some support to a theory that there is a clear hierarchy that might include edible sea life at the bottom.

              Regardless, the alternative might be in something like pearl farming. Fishing doesn’t pay as much as pearl farming, and new industries might spring up around the shells.

              Whatever the alternate industry proposed, it would have to be ‘sold’ to the fishermen as beneficial to them, particularly in terms of future prosperity for the fishermen’s children. Nothing is more likely to encourage the adoption of the new system than that, as well as making sea industries safer through cooperation with the merfolk – another bonus they would not have enjoyed pre-treaty.

              The best way to encourage cooperation would be through contact.

              One thing is for sure, there would be a lot of work in that happily ever after. Still, they were still in power when their daughter was about 10, so I guess they worked it out! Perhaps we could collaborate on Grimbsby’s memoirs where he documents how these political changes were accomplished! lol

            3. Solid plan! And looks like I need to watch The Little Mermaid 2…I typically hate Disney sequels (except for the Toy Story movies) and I have actually been able to avoid that one…maybe I need to give it a watch…

            4. It’s not as good as 1 as you presciently predict, so I won’t get your hopes up, but a little girl mermaid may make it a favourite if your child sees it. You have been warned. 😉

  5. I DON’T LIKE THIS. I saw that your blog was about Disney movies, so I just had to check it out. Well……. NO. I can understand, and maybe even argue for or against the points you make in other movies, but The Little Mermaid is my all time hands down favorite movie and just….. NO. I can’t formulate any sentences to go with all the “NOPE!” in my head right now. By the way, don’t you think you’re looking into this too deeply. These movies are just meant to entertain small children for awhile. Let it do it’s magic. I understand about wanting to raise your daughter right and all, but watching Disney movies won’t ruin her. It didn’t ruin me. (at least I don’t think so. teehee.) So what’s the point in ripping apart beloved movies?

    1. Sarah – You are completely right about me thinking about this stuff way too much…I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I put that in the title and ‘Why this blog’ page of my site. 😉

      These movies are definitely made to entertain children which is why as a parent who watches them over and over, I need a source of cerebral exercise…thus this blog! I love these movies too and I think talking about the questions and what if’s is fun.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      1. Oh. Well now I feel bad cuz I came in and yelled. hahah. I thought you were dissing on my favorite movie. Oops. My bad.

        1. No worries! In your previous comment you mentioned you could potentially argue for or against some of my points on other movies. Feel free to post your thoughts! Love the conversation. Have a good one.

  6. Sea life has a different strategy for survival than do land-dwelling mammals. The more eggs/offspring there are, the greater the chance of a few surviving. I see the best and brightest of the fish being sent to live with the merfolk in their kingdom. The rest simply try to survive in the uncivilized wild. As for the other sea life, they appeared to be fair game in the food and clothing department. In addition to shells there were starfish as apparel.
    Triton was a son of Poseidon. Poseidon was lord over the oceans (originally he was god of earthquakes, too, but we’ll just go with the ocean part for now). He had many, many offspring. Triton was simply one of them. That means that Triton’s kingdom does not encompass the entire ocean; only, perhaps, a small area of the sea. Ursula has traveled far and wide and settled at the outskirts of the kingdom to offer her sorcerous services to the poor, unfortunate souls in pain and need.
    Within the kingdom of Triton, fish are treated very well. Beyond the borders, the laws fail, because survival of the fittest takes over. This is why only the best and brightest of the fish and sea life are sent to live there. Many fish have found fine careers as entertainers. For example, the bass play the brass, the chub play the tub, and the fluke is the duke of soul.

    1. Very interesting. But Ariel has grown up as a product the the small Triton led community. While she doesn’t carry the same biases against humans as her father does, I would assume she would show the same respect for sea life. I think the idea of an uncivilized group of fish makes sense, but I’m not sure if the movie validates that. I mean, the only sea creature that is ever shown eating another sea creature is Ursula…and she is bad.

      So, if Triton is the son of Poseidon…is he part or full greek god?

  7. So glad that I decided to check out your blog. I absolutely love it! I grew up on Disney movies, and now that I’m an adult I’ve started to see some of the “mistakes” so to speak, and it’s so interesting reading someone else’s view on what may have happened! The Little Mermaid was my favorite by far, thanks for making me smile! 😀

    1. That’s awesome. Thanks for your kind words. It’s the same for me. I watched so many of these when I was younger and it all just made sense. Now when I watch with my kids, they are so obvious. Thanks for the comment!

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