Deal with the Sea Witch

In both versions of this tale, Little Mermaid decides to go visit the sea witch to see if there is any possibility that she can become human. She makes a scary journey to the sea witch’s home, and sees strange things that scare her. However, she perseveres because she knows the sea witch is the only chance she has at making her dream a reality. The deal made with the sea witch differs a bit in that in the original, it is more brutal on Little Mermaid. In both, Little Mermaid must give up her voice as a payment to the sea witch. In the original, the sea witch actually cuts of her tongue, but in the movie, they have the sea witch store it in one of her magic shells. Also in the movie, Disney leaves out the other part of the deal Little Mermaid made with the sea witch. When Little Mermaid drinks the potion to make her human, it will feel like a sharp sword is going through her. In addition to this, whenever she walks, although she will have graceful movements, it will feel like she is treading on sharp knifes. This will hurt so bad it will make her feet bleed.

Disney excludes the brutality of her deal to make the movie child appropriate. By keeping in the part about losing her voice, Disney is keeping in the belief that you can’t get something without giving something in return. The severity of the deal made with the witch in the original doesn’t add much to the story, except it makes her transformation more permanent in that her tongue is actually cut off. This can be represented as giving up her voice as a female in society. In the movie, she earns her voice back, but in the original, she can never get it back.

The sea witch, Ursula, as seen in the Disney movie:


Hans Christian Andersen’s sea witch:

The Little Mermaid


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