In Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” bodily mutilation—exchanging a fishtail for legs and giving up a voice—is presumed necessary to become human. Using the lens of disability studies, I explore the paradox of the mermaid’s amputations. On the one hand, Andersen’s story incorporates a religious framework in which a maimed body is a holy body. Yet the insistence on surgically correcting the mermaid’s body to make her human troublingly endorses aesthetic norms. The ending of the tale, in which the mermaid is neither human nor mermaid, is Andersen’s attempt to reckon with the paradox.
Yamato, Lori. "Surgical Humanization in H. C. Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”." Marvels & Tales 31.2 (2017). Web. <https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/marvels/vol31/iss2/5>.