The myth of mermaids fascinated mankind throughout the ages. Once a superstition amongst sailors, today romanticised and idealised – in stark contrast to our harsh, fast-paced and in part unimaginative modern times.
Sad to say that different characters get mixed up every so often, hence this terms are used synonymical:
- siren, neck and nixie
They seem to look alike: the upper half of the body always resembles a beautiful and seductive young woman whereas the lower half (mostly starting at the waist) is described as a “tail coverd with scales” like a fishtail. But usually this tail isn´t a vertical one but a horizontal fluke like that of whales. Their hair comes in all kind of colours, “traditionally” it should have a slight greenish shine or be completely green.
The descriptions are based on tales of mariners who claim to have seen such beautiful young women, sunbathing on rocks and cliffs on sunny days.
Hans Christian Andersen described 1837 in his fairy tale “The little Mermaid” a tragic character, who – out of love – gets in an unfortunate situation and sacrifices herself in the end. The core of his story represents the origin of most movies our days, which – more or less – work out the details of the motif of love between a mermaid and a human.
- Disney´s Ariel, The Little Mermaid
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- H2O: Just Add Water
So we see, that mermaids weren´t invented by Disney, already Antonin Dvorak used this character: His opera “Rusalka”, a fairy tale of this natural being, celebrated its world premiere in 1901 in Prague.
With Dvorak the story of the mermaid who wants to learn about human love takes a similarly tragic end as in Andersen’s Fairy Tales: Here the water being pays for her love with the death of the beloved – and with a life of guilt and loneliness.
Michael Turner has created his very own version of an underwater world for our modern times with his comic “Fathom“ at Top Cow Productions and makes his heroine Aspen switch back and forth between the two elements of water and earth – but with a totally new approach.
Mermaids and nymphs arouse in us a vague longing and jealousy and provoke us with an area of conflict between aloofness and inaccessibility and often overtly erotic charisma, enticement and seduction.
Usually the central conflict of the topic “mermaid” is that of the contradictoriness of the two habitats, of land and water, which sets boundaries to mermaids (and man) because of the incompatibility. How this can be overcome and if the efforts are successful or not, that´s what makes up the story!