I get that I probably don’t need to do this on here that much, but I still see a ton of unfounded criticisms of Ariel online, so I’m going for it anyway.
Ariel only became human because of a MAN!!!
Have. You. Watched. The. First. Fifteen. Minutes. Of. The. Movie?!? Our first exposure to Ariel is when we see her searching for human trinkets on a shipwreck. She has an entire CAVERN(/grotto?) full of human artifacts she’s collected over the years! Part of Your World is before
she goes to the surface and first sees Eric. But sure, she only cares about being a human because of a man. Let’s just strip Ariel of all her independent hopes and desires to make our points in the name of feminism, that totally makes sense.
Yeah, but she only acted when Eric was on the line, so that doesn’t matter!
Right, she only became human after her encounter with Eric. Please tell me when exactly she had the opportunity to become human before then? That was the opportunity Ursula
chose to exploit.
But it was still a really stupid decision!
This is true. I didn’t use the word “exploit” for no reason. She knew she was asking Ariel to do something risky and stupid. Ursula chose the moment to approach Ariel she did precisely because she knew Ariel would be vulnerable at that point. Triton had just destroyed the collection Ariel had presumably spent years amassing, her one outlet of her passion for humans and desire to become one herself. In that moment, she saw all her dreams disappear. Ursula used the emotionally charged moment to her advantage in order to get Ariel to sign. Remember that Ursula is an evil mastermind who uses all her power to trap people into unwinnable deals. And don’t try to tell me there haven’t been moments in your life where you would have done the same for your deepest unattainable desire!
Still, she LITERALLY gave up her voice! And that’s how she gets the man! Do you realize what message that sends?
1. Ursula was the one who said that would be a good idea
I thought it was an accepted convention of children’s/family movies that you disregard what the villain says?
2. Notice Eric wasn’t impressed by that
He is disappointed when he meets Ariel specifically BECAUSE she can’t speak. It was the voice he was looking for. But…
3. It’s Ariel’s zany expressiveness which makes Eric fall for her anyway
Eric decides to give up the fantasy of “the girl with the voice” because spending time with Ariel (yeah, yeah, it was one day, it’s a fairytale, deal with it) makes him realize how enthralling she is. Now, does Ariel spend her time with Eric mindlessly gazing at him? No! She experiences as much of the human world as she can, terrifying Eric out of his mind and making a fool out of herself multiple times along the way. It’s her liveliness Eric falls for, not because she’s some mute, adoring ninny.
Ariel totally forgets about all her other human preoccupations and only focuses on Eric in the human world.
Right, so I touched on this in the last point. Deal with it. Not only did Ariel continue to pursue her passion for learning as much about the human world as possible, she did so while even ignoring Eric at times. Dinner the first night? Eric must take a momentary backseat so Ariel can brush her hair with a fork and attempt to play a pipe. Though she could have been working on charming him while she sat next to Eric on the leisurely carriage ride, Ariel dipped over the back of the cart so as to discern its secrets of transportation. In the town square, Ariel simply HAD to discover the mechanics of puppetry. Her desire to be fully human is just as present after she meets Eric as before.
She never learns her lesson! She screws everything up and doesn’t think she has to do anything!
But, on another note: The consequences of Ariel’s decision were supposed to be hers and hers alone, and she was going to accept them as hers. Notice how she didn’t fight back against being marched off to punishment until Triton decided to get tangled up with the situation? Ariel didn’t expect anyone to get her out of her situation. Now, was she sorry for her initial decision to go to the surface and become a human? Probably not. But was she sorry for the fact that her father was hurt through that decision? Yes, I think she was. Ariel DID have to face the consequences of her impulsive decisions, and in the end, she
had to remedy them.