What’s the Deal with Ursula?

Am I the only one who has an endless amount of questions about Ursula? When you first meet this octo-witch, you kind of take everything about her at face value. But when you start to dig a little deeper, the water gets more and more murky. First of all, she used to live in the palace. Did you catch her mentioning that when she was spying on Ariel? She didn’t just visit the palace, she lived there. Was she part of Triton’s council? Was she in politics? She obviously has to know something about the Oceanic legal system as she was able to best Triton with a legal document. For some reason, she ends up getting banished. I think we can all assume that her exile had something to do with her spells and general evilness. But none of that bothers me as much as the fact that she is part octopus. All the other half human creatures in Triton’s kingdom, that we see anyway, are half-fish. You don’t see any other shark-boys or seal-ladies floating around. Are we to assume that Ursula was changed into her current self by some sort of irreversible spell? Or could it be that she was an anomaly in the kingdom. A mutant of sorts. Could it be that she was looked upon differently her whole life because she had something different going on down below? Maybe she also ate her feelings which lead to her less than healthy physical state. Her appearance is definitely an issue she struggles with regardless of  if it was enchantment or genetic. She didn’t seem too keen on merpeeps who want to change something about their physical appearance.  Could it be jealousy? Remember the ugly merpeople she makes pretty only to have them become part of her living garden? I know every movie needs a villain but maybe she is not the one who is truly at fault here. What about the merparents out there that are obviously not educating their children about the direct link between the rash of local disappearances and a visit with Ursula? Maybe she is doing the ocean a favor by weeding out the stupider merfolk. I we could chalk this up to survival of the…unfittest?

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Image Credit: disney.wikia.com

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21 comments

  1. Love this post! Ursula is in my top three of favorite Disney villains, and it would be amazing to see what led her there. You make some great points, and hey, they’ve done Maleficent, haven’t they? How fascinating would it be to see Ursula’s story?
    I get the vibe that she’s related to Triton. Brother and sister, maybe? Could it explain why she wants the crown so much? Maybe it’s a Red Queen – White Queen deal. (From the most recent live-action adaption of Alice in Wonderland.)
    I believe I read something about her past, and Easter Egg or bit of trivia. I’ll see if I can find it! Keep up the hilarious and wonderful posts!
    ~ P.S.

  2. I can’t answer all of your questions but as for why she was ever In the palace, King Triton is her brother, so yeah that kind of fits in with everything else, she was the black octopus of the family, except in a sequel she did have a sister, so maybe it it was some genetic issue where males were regular merpeople and females were octo-people??

  3. Back in the 40s and 50s, when very skinny women were considered to be unattractive, all the female Disney baddies were thin. Now, in order to make sure we all understand how worthless they are, the evil ones are plump or at the very least, old.

    Thanks, Disney, for helping children decide which members of woman-kind to reject.

  4. I’m not sure it was a spell that backfired on her, not unless her sister helped with that too. In the second little mermaid film, the one about Ariel’s daughter wanting to go to the sea, it’s Ursula’s sister (cannot remember her name) that was the evil one. Maybe it’s some genetic disorder that they were born with. Either way I loved your insight into this deeper meaning behind her evil ways, I never thought of it before 🙂

  5. There is a verse cut from “Fathoms Below” (opening song) about Ursula being Triton’s sister. If you can go off of the Broadway version as well, when their father died, Triton got the trident and Ursula got the magic shell, and they were both equals…until she got in trouble for dabbling in black magic and got banished. A very interesting backstory, I think…it makes her both sympathetic and also extra evil (going after family??).

    BTW, in the Bway show, there’s also a line about why she chooses to take Ariel’s voice – “She takes it for granted. A woman never knows how precious her voice is until she’s been silenced.” Adds a bit more depth to Ursula’s perspective, and also I think an interesting point to make to teenagers.

  6. The post is excellent, but everyone’s responses are equally as impressive…..keep up the great posts. BTW, I have an original copy of the dreaded VHS with the original coral castle in the artwork!

  7. Yes in the original script, she was Triton’s sister, and technically still is but they chose to cut it down for time and get to the point. She likely was once a mermaid. But whether she was cursed by another or it was a spell that backfired, I’m not sure.

    1. Glad they left that out. I think that was too easy and that wouldn’t work for the sequels…since there was another Ursula villain in the second one…I have heard.

  8. I always assumed she was the previous ruler of the sea and was deposed by Triton somehow. The idea that she was Triton’s sister puts a whole different twist on what kinds of things daddy got up to.

    -JK

  9. Just discovered your blog, thanks for comment on mine. What bothers me about the movie is the usual message of Disney, disobey your father at 16 for true love, yah sure, be devious and sell your soul to the witch, and it will turn out all right. In the original story the teenager becomes sea foam. Disney gets rid of mothers, makes the story simpler, no complex story of Mothers stopping the villain. Sounds like a formula for Human Trafficking. Suggests that dad’s are not caring enough to keep better track of the daughters. The story is twisted, who does Disney hire besides the known pedophiles or other sex addicted people that put in obscene pictures in the backgrounds now and then.

  10. Originally, Disney planned something a little different for Ursula. She was going to be very close to Ariel and her family….She was supposed to be Tritons sister! She was supposed to be the cause of Athena’s (Ariel’s mom) accident. And Triton cursed her for it, giving her an octopus lower body, and banishing her. And she was the oldest of the two. So if she had been a boy, she would have been the ruler. But because Triton was the only son, he got the throne.

So, what do you think?

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