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Mermaids and their cultural significance in literature and folklore

by 1981- Knight, Lara

Abstract (Summary)
Mythological characters, mermaids represent seductive women and hybrid personas; their dual nature often reflects a conflict within their environment. By studying different popular mermaid appearances in literature and folklore, I can map cultural changes along with ideas and symbols that vary little between cultures. Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Little Mermaid,” for instance, allows a female character to take charge of her destiny within a patriarchal world; his little mermaid finds a road to salvation she can walk alone, without a man. Many critics have condemned Disney’s adaptation of Andersen’s story because it neglects the spiritual quest. Instead of explaining this shift as a regression, a common trend among scholars, I have considered the film within the context of the 1980s and the context of mermaid traits found in mythology. I have also traced mermaid appearances in American legends of the Flying African. Mermaids represent several cultural variations.
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School:The University of Georgia

School Location:USA - Georgia

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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