An Analysis of Disability in The Little Mermaid: Examining Disparities and Similarities in the Fairytale and Its Movie Adaptation

Roshini R, Rajasekaran V


Differences and disabilities have always been a part of oral tradition and folklore. These differences greatly influenced story-telling that eventually stemmed from oral tradition. The western canon has included disability in their literature for some time now, but their portrayal of disability from the beginning to the twentieth century has drastically improved. Fairytales and folktales were historically associated with values and morals, and the moral system during the olden times was completely patriarchal and abelistic. The tales never offered any space for disability to exist as a simple part of an individual's life. This paper aims to investigate the representation of disability in Disney's version of Hans Christian Andersen's fairytale, "The Little Mermaid", and attempts to understand disability in the light of fairytales. There are some major and vital differences between the original story by Hans Christian and the movie by Disney, but do they accommodate positive signals that counteract the ableist society? Does the movie reflect the truth about a disabled person's life? Or is it still a profusion of negative elements that reinforce oppression and discrimination? This paper examines the narratives employed in the movie and the original fairy tale and attempts to address the issues of identity, stigma, and stereotypes based on the representation of disability in both genres.

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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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