Once upon a time…
… far out into the ocean, where the water is deep blue, lived a Sea King in his magnificent Kingdom.
The Sea Queen passed away a long time ago and the King’s mother is looking after his six daughters. They are six beautiful children but the youngest is the prettiest and purest of them all, having the most enchanting singing voice in the world.
The youngest princess yearns to see the land above the sea and her grandmother promises that when she turns 15 she will have permission to rise up the sea and watch the land above.
Each year one of her sisters turns 15 and rises to the surface of the ocean, each one coming back with lovely stories. One loves the moonlight and gazing at the twinkling lights of the town, while another watches the ships from afar, sailing through lightning.
Finally the day comes for the Little Mermaid to rise to the surface of the sea. She sees a large ship sailing along the calm sea, with a handsome young prince on board. The Little Mermaid cannot take her eyes off him, as she has instantly fallen in love.
Suddenly a storm breaks out, which ruins the ship, leaving the prince to the mercy of the waves, destined to die. Out of love, the Little Mermaid saves him and drags him to shore, where he is found by a young girl. Never knowing who truly saved his life.
However, the Little Mermaid has not forgotten about him and likes to get back above to watch him from afar. One day she asks her grandmother if humans die like mermaids. Patiently, her grandmother explains that humans die much earlier than mermaids, but that they have an immortal soul that lives on forever whereas mermaids just turn into foam and become nothing.
From that moment on, the Little Mermaid is bent on getting an immortal soul. Unable to stand her desire any longer, she visits the Sea Witch. The Sea Witch promises to give her a pair of legs so that she can live among the humans, in exchange for her beautiful voice. However, every time she walks it will feel as if she is walking on sharp swords and, once human, she can never return to the sea again.
She is also warned by the Sea Witch that in order to obtain an immortal soul, the Little Mermaid must gain the love of the prince, for then a part of his soul will flow into her. If the prince does not fall in love with her then she will turn into foam on the day of his wedding to another.
The Little Mermaid drinks the potion and finds the prince, who is mesmerized by her beauty and grace even though she is mute. Most of all he likes to see her dance, and she dances for him despite her suffering. When the prince’s father orders his son to marry the neighbouring king’s daughter, the prince tells the Little Mermaid he will not because he does not love the princess. He loves another, the young woman from the beach, the one he believes that saved his life.
The prince deeply loves this girl and a grand wedding takes place. Leaving the Little Mermaid heart-broken, thinking of all that she has given up and of all the pain she has endured for him. She despairs, thinking of the death that awaits her.
Before dawn, her sisters bring her a knife from the Sea Witch, with a message: if the Little Mermaid slays the prince with the knife and lets his blood drip on her feet, she will become a mermaid again, all her suffering will end, and she will live out her full life in the sea.
However, her love is too strong and the Little Mermaid cannot bring herself to killing the man she loves. At the break of dawn she throws herself into the sea. She feels her body dissolving into foam, but instead of ceasing to exist, she feels the sun. She has become a daughter of the air, a spirit. Now she can earn her own soul by doing good deeds. And eventually she will rise up into heaven…
Nowadays Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid can be found in the Copenhagen harbour… sitting atop a rock… looking out to the sea…