I couldn’t help it. I’ve had the urge to post about this parallel, which has inhabited my mind ever since I’ve been introduced to the Tempest’s Ariel. I’ve theorized that Hans Christian Andersen, the author of the original story of The Little Mermaid, named the heroine of his beloved and now commercialized fairy tale after the Tempest’s the mischievous little spirit.
Yes. I am aware that these two characters are obviously worlds away from each other despite the name that they share. We have already established that Ariel (the spirit) is androgynous, while Ariel (the mermaid) is clearly female. Their stories also strikingly contrast each other since Ariel (the spirit) helps incite a tempest to destroy a ship at sea while Ariel (the mermaid) saves a prince who happened to be aboard a ship doomed to destruction by a tempest.
Their key similarity lies in their shared desire for freedom, which motivate their actions over the course of the their respective stories. Ariel (the mermaid) in the Hans Christen Andersen version desires to live on the surface with humanity in order to obtain a human soul and the love of the prince she saved while Ariel (the spirit) desires to be set free from Prospero. Coincidentally, both are controlled by other individuals in exchange for their wishes to come true since Ariel (the mermaid) is indebted to the Sea Witch and Ariel (the spirit) is indebted to Prospero.