|“||If only I can make him understand. I just don't see things the way he does. Maybe he's right. Maybe there is something the matter with me. I don't see how a world that makes such wonderful things could be bad.||„|
|~ Ariel dreaming of becoming part of the human world|
Princess (later Queen) Ariel is the titular protagonist of The Little Mermaid, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, its television series and the deuteragonist of The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. She is voiced by Jodi Benson.
Ariel is a bright, spirited mermaid who is also adventurous, headstrong, and stubborn. Her curiosity and love for adventure sometimes gets her into trouble. Usually, however, she overcomes any obstacle she faces like she uses magic to change things. Her best friend is a fish named Flounder, and she develops a close relationship with a crab named Sebastian, the court composer. She is also impulsive, as evidenced by her exploring whilst forgetting about the concert. However, her impulsive nature does not impact her conscience, being portrayed as being extremely reluctant and hesitant to do something she knows or at least suspects is morally wrong to get what she wants, as evidenced by her reluctantly going to Ursula in the film as well as her reluctance to steal her father King Triton's trident as part of a dare in the third issue of the Marvel Comics. She is able to risk everything for her love for Eric and for her dreams, even if this might hurt her. She is also protective of her friends, saving them even when in doing so she endangers herself in the process, this is especially evident when she saved Flounder (who had been knocked out hard enough to render his swim bladder temporarily inoperable and sink to the ocean floor) from Glut the Shark when nearly home free from him, nearly getting herself eaten in the process (the only thing preventing him from eating them being an anchor in its way that trapped him), as well as saving Sebastian from potentially being Grimsby's meal and attempting to tell Eric to leave her behind and save himself just before Ursula emerged as a giant. She was also very forgiving and defended even people who were unable to do so themselves or were considered bad, as evidenced by her protecting Urchin despite the latter stealing from Triton as well as her defending a bad luck creature from both her friends and enemies for its reputation, and her saving Hans Christian Andersen. She was also shown to be compassionate, as evidenced in the fourth issue of Disney Comics where she decided, against Sebastian's statements, to save a human whose submersible was trapped, despite knowing full well that he tried to harm her beforehand. Like her father, Ariel has a bad temper if she ever is provoked, although hers is not as bad as his. Although spirited, even she has had some degree of self-doubts about herself, as she actually at one point considered her father might have been correct and that she may have been a freak for having any fascination for humanity. She also had a degree of seeing good in things, as she also doubted that humanity could have been pure evil from their tools and artworks.
Also, despite her usual naivety and impulsiveness, Ariel has shown on many occasions to be serious, careful, and very intelligent and intuitive. Despite her usual girlish traits such as her love for singing, her hate for violence and evil and her adorable sweetness and innocence to many things, she is also rather tomboyish, given that she is very active, athletic, rebellious, independent, mischievous, adventurous, fearless, irritable and is not afraid to speak her mind, and she is not obsessed with cleanliness, jewelry or matriarchy like her sisters are and really only pretties herself up on important occasions (despite the fact that she is always beautiful). Also, many of her friends are male and she grew up with no mother since her mother died when she was just an infant. Also, what makes her even more tomboyish is that before she met Eric, she was not interested in romantic relationships, not even with any of the merman princes that her father King Triton tried to get her to marry (similar to how Princess Jasmine did with the Sultan). So all in all, Ariel is more or less half a girly girl and more or less half a tomboy.
In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Ariel matures after becoming a mother. Due to the threat of Morgana, Ursula's sister, she becomes very overprotective of Melody in the same manner she was treated by Triton in the first film. She is shown to long for the sea, but keeps this hidden from Melody for the latter's own safety; even though it would've been easier if she had explained everything to her, she even points this out in a later scene and at the film's climax. Her most notable trait, however, was her deep love and fascination for humanity, having desired to become human during the events of the first film, even prior to meeting her future husband, Eric. She did not always have this trait, however: until she was 15 years of age, she expressed a deep fear of humanity similar to Triton's xenophobia of humanity, although her witnessing some humans saving a beached dolphin changed her views on the matter. Ironically, one of the people responsible for saving the dolphin was Eric, although she never knew it.
Similar to Cinderella, although Ariel's love for Eric was indeed strong, pursuing him was not her main priority before encountering him, as she initially wanted to simply live among humanity and be among them.
The Little Mermaid
Main article: The Little Mermaid (1989 film)
Ariel first appears in The Little Mermaid (1989), in which she is shown as being adventurous and curious about the world of humans, a fascination which angers her father King Triton, as merfolk are forbidden from making contact with the human world. She and Flounder go in search of human objects, which they take to a seagull named Scuttle for appraisal. Ariel sings "Part of Your World" in her grotto and realizes a shadow approaching over it. She goes to the surface and falls in love with a human prince named Prince Eric after saving him from drowning, and visits the sea witch, Ursula who agrees to turn her into a human in exchange for her voice. Ariel must make Prince Eric fall in love with her and kiss her within three days, otherwise she turn back into a mermaid and would belong to Ursula forever. Unknown to Ariel, this agreement is part of Ursula's bigger plan to trap Ariel's father, King Triton and steal his magical trident. After being transformed, she is soon found by Eric and is taken back to his castle. Ariel almost manages to obtain the "kiss of true love", but is stopped by Ursula's underhanded tactics. On the third day, Ursula transforms herself into a human woman named Vanessa and bewitches Eric to make him marry her using Ariel's voice in the process. After learning from Scuttle that Vanessa is Ursula in disguise, Ariel disrupts the wedding and regains her voice, but the sun sets as Ariel and Prince Eric are about to kiss, transforming Ariel back into a mermaid. Ursula takes Ariel back into the ocean, where she is met by King Triton and Sebastian.
Triton trades himself for Ariel, enabling Ursula to claim his trident. In the battle that follows, Ariel is trapped at the bottom of a whirlpool. Before Ursula can kill her, Eric kills Ursula by ramming a derelict ship's splintered prow through her enlarged torso. At the end of the film, Ariel is transformed into a human by King Triton's magical trident and she leaves to live with Eric.
Main article: The Little Mermaid (TV series)
The series, set an unspecified time before the first film, depicts Ariel's adventures as a mermaid living under the sea with her father, Sebastian and Flounder. Ariel's mother is absent, having already died prior to the events of the series. Several episodes highlight her relationship with her friends and family, expanding upon their roles in the film. Many involve Ariel foiling the attempts of various enemies intent on harming her or her kingdom. In one episode Ariel comes across Hans Christian Andersen, author of "The Little Mermaid". In the fictionalized encounter she saves Anderson's life, inspiring him to write the story.
The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
Main article: The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea
In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000), Ariel, now the new queen of Prince Eric's kingdom, has given birth to a daughter named Melody. When Melody's safety is threatened by a sea witch named Morgana, Ursula's sister, Ariel and her husband Eric decide they must keep Melody from the sea, and build a large wall to separate it from the castle.
But Melody's love of the sea proves too strong and she visits Morgana, who turns her into a mermaid temporarily. King Triton uses his trident to transform Ariel back into her own mermaid form to find and rescue Melody. Morgana tricks Melody into taking part in a plot to steal her grandfather King Triton's trident. Together with Tip the Penguin and Dash the Walrus she goes to Atlantica and succeeds in acquiring the trident. Ariel arrives as they return with it to Morgana, and tries to persuade Melody to give back the trident. Morgana captures Ariel, tightly wrapping her tentacle around Ariel's body. She then seals Melody behind a block wall. Tip and Dash rescue Melody and Ariel manages to free herself. Morgana then uses the trident's magic to force everyone to bow before her.
Melody manages to grab the trident and returns it to King Triton, who then sends Morgana to the bottom of the ocean frozen in a block of ice. Triton returns Ariel to human form, the wall separating Eric's castle from the sea is torn down, and contact between humans and merfolk is restored.
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning
Main article: The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning
The prologue of The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (2008) shows Ariel as a five-year-old mermaid, living happily with her father, King Triton, her mother, Queen Athena, and her six older sisters. As Ariel and her family relax in a lagoon, a pirate ship approaches and everyone flees except Athena, who returns to recover a music box Triton had given her and is killed. Afterwards, a devastated King Triton bans all music from Atlantica and throws the music box deep into the ocean. Ariel and her sisters grow up forgetting music and living under their father's strict rules, enforced by Marina del Rey, their governess.
Ariel meets Flounder and follows him to a secret underground club where Sebastian and his band play music. There she sings the song "I Remember", which reminds her of her distant past surrounded by love and music, and of her mother. Ariel introduces her sisters to the club, but eventually they are caught thanks to Marina, who had followed them. Sebastian and his band are imprisoned and the club is closed under Triton's orders. After an argument with Triton, Ariel breaks the band out of prison and escapes with them.
With Sebastian's assistance Ariel finds her mother's music box, and they decide to return it to Triton. On their way back to Atlantica, they encounter Marina, and a struggle ensues in which Ariel is injured, witnessed by Triton. Ariel makes a full recovery, and a remorseful Triton allows music back into Atlantica.