The Little Mermaid is a fairy tale written by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen about a young mermaid who is willing to give up her life in the sea and her identity as a mermaid to gain a Human soul.
The mermaid’s grandmother explains that Humans have a much shorter lifespan than a mermaid’s 300 years, but that when mermaids die, they turn to sea foam and cease to exist, while Humans have an eternal soul that lives on in heaven.
When a mermaid turns fifteen, she is permitted to swim to the surface for the first time to glimpse the World above. When the Little Mermaid’s turn comes, she watches a birthday celebration being held on a ship in honor of a handsome prince, and falls in love with him from a safe distance.
A violent storm hits, sinking the boat, and the Little Mermaid saves the prince from drowning.
The Little Mermaid, longing for the prince and an eternal soul, visits the Sea Witch in a dangerous part of the ocean. The witch willingly helps her by selling her a potion that gives her legs in exchange for her tongue and beautiful voice.
The Little Mermaid will obtain a soul only if she wins the love of the prince and marries him, for then a part of his soul will flow into her.
The prince celebrates his new marriage on a wedding ship, and the Little Mermaid’s heart breaks. She thinks of all that she has sacrificed and of all the pain she has endured for the prince. She despairs, thinking of the death that awaits her.
If the Little Mermaid kills the prince and lets his blood drip on her feet, she will become a mermaid once more, all of her suffering will end, and she will live out her full life in the ocean with her family.
However, the Little Mermaid cannot bring herself to kill the sleeping prince lying with his new bride, and she throws the knife and herself off the ship into the water just as dawn breaks.
Her body dissolves into foam, but instead of ceasing to exist, she feels the warm sun and discovers that she has turned into a luminous and ethereal earthbound spirit, a daughter of the air.
Because of her selflessness, she is given the chance to earn her own soul by doing good deeds to mankind for 300 years and will one day rise up into the Kingdom of God.