While doing research for One Soul to Share, a romance novella about a mermaid and a vampire, I discovered a lot about mermaids–mainly that they got a raw deal.
This may be surprising. Mermaids are beautiful. They have gorgeous hair and voices that make men weep. They are free and the picture of joy in the water. But somehow with all of that, for the most part their stories didn’t seem to end all that well.
Take for example the mermaid in the original Hans Christian Andersen story The Little Mermaid. She falls in love with a prince, but he chooses another woman over her. The mermaid is given the choice of stabbing the prince and returning to her original mermaid state or dying herself. She chooses her own demise.
A noble choice, don’t you think? And how is she rewarded? She becomes a “daughter of the air” with 300 years of serving humanity ahead of her to earn a soul, because apparently sacrificing her own life wasn’t enough.
Uh… This did not leaving me cheering.
Then there is the poor Ceasg, a Scottish Highlands mermaid who, like the heroine of One Soul to Share, has a soul that is separate from her body. She is also beautiful and has the ability to grant three wishes if captured. Guess what that means? No sweet little courtship for her.
Then there is Liban. She’s called the “sanctified mermaid,” and is pictured in old Christian carvings. Liban’s story starts with tragedy. When she was a human girl, a sacred spring she lived near flooded. The waters swept away her entire family, even her dog. Liban prayed to survive and was transformed from the waist down into a salmon. Her dog became an otter. Much later she was captured. Now you might think why capture her? She was after all an obvious victim in this story, but apparently her half-fish state meant she was, at least in the eyes of the fishermen who caught her, soulless. However, being kind and gentle men they offered her a choice. She could be baptized to regain her soul or just be put to death on the spot. She chose the soul.
And then what? Well, she died anyway.
With stories like this, is it any wonder the Loreleis choose to stay on their rock and sing rather than jumping into the ocean and saving the fools who crash into their isle?
I mean what would their reward have been? Probably a rock tied to their tale and eternity gurgling away at the bottom of the sea.
What do you think? Did mermaids get a raw deal? If so, why do you think that is?
(Want to see one mermaid get her happy ending, with a vampire no less? Check out One Soul to Share.)