I’m going to tell you a story you already know. (Tell me when you recognize it.)
Leira is a princess of a magical kingdom on Earth–a beautiful, shimmering land of lush forests and colorful meadows near a picturesque mountain range.
The subjects of Leira’s kingdom include other people, like herself, as well as many amazing, brilliant woodland creatures who are full members of her society. The woodland creatures even contribute to its art and culture. They are painters, musicians, writers.
Unfortunately, Leira’s kingdom is at risk. A race of space aliens have begun using their advanced technology to harvest her subjects for food: Every so often, they hover in the sky above and use electromagnetic beams to capture the woodland creatures, which they devour. Woodland creatures who ascend the mountain seem to be at the greatest risk: the aliens tend to harvest their prey at higher altitudes.
The space aliens have not yet captured any of Leira’s fellow human beings, but her parents, the king and queen, fear it is only a matter of time. They decree that everyone must stay away from the mountains.
But Leira cannot resist those mountains. Sometimes, debris from the space aliens may be found there. She loves their debris. It gleams and has strange, hard edges, unlike anything she’s ever seen. Leira marvels at the remnants of their technology and wonders how each item is used. She becomes obsessed with collecting more of it, and begins putting herself at risk by ascending to higher and higher altitudes to do so.
With time, poor Leira begins descending into a Stockholm-syndrome-esque form of madness, in which she feels empathy with these vicious aliens who love to devour her kingdom’s citizens. Leira wants to leap on a cloud, travel through the stars, and see these fascinating alien creatures up close. What are they like? How do they spend their time? She sneaks away recklessly to the mountains with binoculars and telescopes, hoping to glimpse them without being seen.
One day, her madness reaches new heights: She would give anything to BE one of the aliens. Though it seems practically suicidal, she longs to abandon her position as the beautiful princess Leira and ascend to become a superior being. She would give up her identity and become one of them.
It’s a bad situation.
…And that is the whole premise of The Little Mermaid. Ariel wants to be “part of that world” that would literally gobble hers up. It would be interesting to see a sci-fi film version of the story. Kind of fun but strange to think about, right?