The illimitable space,
The vast sea of people，
Over the long course of history,
Strange things around the world,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a monster there lived whom you may know,
By the name of mermaid;
And this monster lived no other thought
Than to peace, blissful and strength of love.
She was a child and I was a child,
By the name of little mermaid.
I want to be as brave as a merman
Do my own thing
without drawing attention to others
But, I cannot
In this kingdom by the people.
In the world have many puzzles and magical mysterious. Mysterious, so that we cannot understand their living environment. We created monsters and used them to interpret those mysterious things. In monster thesis I by Jeffery J. Cohen, he wrote: “the monster is born only at this metaphoric crossroads” (Cohen 4), this is the heart of Cohen’s approach. Each monster reflects a set of fears, anxieties, or desires of a certain set (or sub-set) of people at a certain time in a certain place. The monster is an “embodiment of a certain cultural moment.”(Cohen 4). After the ancient behemoth disappeared, humans will use their imagination to create a few scarier guys, dragons, werewolves, zombies, which are not only present in today’s movies, but also in ancient myths and legends, traces can be found. If there is a biological image that is the worldwide recognition and attention to an alternative to monsters, first choice maybe is mermaid, and it does go into children, adults and every family. The mermaid is same as the sea to giving people a mysterious, dreamy and charming feeling. The deep seabed with the mermaid is the place where each of us dreamed of discovering when we were young.
The childhood fairy tale “Mermaid” occupies the purest zone in everyone’s heart. The mermaid image in Andersen’s fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” is best known. The story of the Little Mermaid’s sacrifice for love has touched readers all over the world. The half-fish half-human “sea girl” statue became the symbol and pride of Denmark. It was also adapted into various forms of literary and artistic works, and each time it achieved a good response, proving that this era needs fairy tales. The most successful film protagonist is the “Little Mermaid” filmed by American Disney Company. Her appearance makes everyone feel that they are decisive and abandon their selfishness, just like the little mermaid generally listens to their inner call, bravely love, help others, and finally get the satisfaction of the soul.
As early as prior to the famous fairy tale of Andersen, there were a wide distribution of mermaid legends and spread around the world. The original half-human and half-fish mythology in the West can be traced back to the image of Poseidon in prehistoric Greek, Celtic and Sumerian mythology (Scribner 1). However, due to historical changes, these ancient god images have not continued to this day. The image of the half-human and half-fish “monster” that we are more familiar with was found in the literature about 100 BC. Goddess Atargatis transformed herself into a mermaid out of shame for accidentally killing her human lover. (Britannica Atargatis 1) At present, the earliest mermaid in China can be found in the “Shan Hai Jing”, and there are many varieties. The special name of “mermaid” has appeared seven times in the whole book. According to “Shan Hai Jing -Bei Shan Jing”, “Mermaid” “In the water of decision, it looks like a squid and has hands and feet. It sounds like a baby. Eating its meat can make people feel that they are not demented. ”
For Cohen, the monster always bears human knowledge from outside, when we discuss in thesis VII “monster stands at threshold of becoming,” we have found out most of the images in the monsters are incredible and ugly. They represent the dark side and strange things. They behave like imagination, full of violence and blood. But, the monster also “ask us to reevaluate cultural assumptions on race, gender, sexuality, perception toward differences and tolerance toward its expression” (Cohen 20). So, under the rich imagination and creativity of human beings, the modern mermaid has had a very different impact in the visual and performing arts. They are no longer mysterious and directly enter our lives, they no longer strengthen the category, the relationship becomes blurred. In other words, Monsters are no longer aliens. So, little mermaid has had versatility of the monster: merman and mermaid, they appeal to cute; brave; peace and titillating, no scarier and intimidating.
In reality I believe people like the mermaid to the extreme, every day someone plays them, and there are more than seventy years of history. Since 1947 in the Weeki Wachee Park, mermaids have become a symbol of Florida. In the world’s largest ocean Aquarium of the Pacific at Long Beach and Silverton Casino in Las Vegas, the mermaid looks leisurely and happy, peaceful and cute.
Another reason I found in the movie world, “The shape of water” released in 2017. The monster really touches the audience. And the reason given by the director Guillermo del Toro, who has always been keen on monsters, is “I realized that the true monsters are in the human heart. It was not their appearance”. Love is the most important expression of “The shape of water”. “The shape of water” tells the story of the American cleaners during the Cold War in the 1960s. Elisa was a deaf-mute person. She usually communicated with the outside world through sign language. She found a reptile strange creature amphibious that looks like a squama, living in the water, was locked in a huge tank. Because of the inability to endure the torture of the monster in the laboratory, Elisa began to sneak a visit monsters, the two developed their feelings. The monster in this film is a merman, there is a conflict with traditional mermaid. In the impression that it has a perfect back, this back has a charming hip. In addition to his half-fish and half-human, the image that is directly promoted is the sexy index. From the outside, the modern monster is no longer an ugly and disgusting image, but a combination of sexy and healthy. Modern monsters can not only communicate with others, help others, but also love, no longer a combination of cruelty, adventure and horror. The merman of “The shape of water” begins to try to love. It is essentially different from the little mermaid and other mermaid movies in the past. It is closer to us like human beings, it is like our neighbor. You can barbecue with them and hold a cold beer and chat with each other. It is no longer far away and unbelievable. A good example shows that monsters have human spirits and fond touches. People and monsters share similar aesthetics. I see the hostess swimming in the water, the monsters squatting under her, fascinated by her. This is a very romantic and beautiful picture. I think this is interoperability; in that, love makes people and monsters go beyond their respective worlds.
The mermaid is a mirror that reflects our own nature. American folklorist Thompson said: “The legend of the mermaid is widely spread because she provides some unique spiritual needs to people at sea.” (Thompson B82.2) In modern times, no matter the mermaid of the East and the West, it is far from the arrogant animal nature of the original form and tends to be kind and beautiful. Perhaps this also symbolizes human aspirations: although love and beauty are sad and untouchable, human beings must constantly pursue and approach it. But we can also see in the monster circle, as an alternative “monster”, the emergence of “heterogeneous” “infringes” some people’s “comfort zone”, which makes them anxious, uneasy, hostile and fearful of them, and countless fears are screwed together and become actual discrimination and even persecution. In ancient Europe, fires were imposed on “witches” and fascists slandered Jews. They killed their compatriots under the banner of a stranger. Even now, many groups are still on the edge of society and cannot be cared for and respected. Sexual minorities, people of color, AIDS patients, disabled people and even women, immigrants etc. In many social environments, discrimination is everywhere, powers discriminate against the weak, and the rich discriminate against the poor, foreign discrimination, etc. In this matter, no one can stay out of the way.
Scribner, Vaughn. “DIVING into MYSTERIOUS WATERS: Some of the Most Intelligent People in Early Modern Europe Were Convinced of the Existence of Merpeople.” History Today, vol. 68, no. 5,
The article explores the early modern history of mermaids and tritons. The author reflects on the belief of naturalist Cotton Mather in the existence of merpeople. Other topics include the symbolism of mermaids in medieval churches and folklore, sightings of merpeople reported by European imperialists such as Christopher Columbus, and the development of science.
Britannica.com. “Atargatis (Syrian deity) – Encyclopædia Britannica”. 2013-08-13. Retrieved 2014-08-11.
This is delimit Atargatis (Syrian deity)，
Explores how the flood myths of early China provided a template for that society’s major social and political institutions
Thompson, Stith, 1885-1976. “The folktale” http://folkmasa.org/yashpeh/The_Folktale.pdf
A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval Romances
Jeffery J. Cohen: “Monster Culture” DOI: 10.5749/j.ctttsq4d.4
This article showing us seven theses of monster.
Christina, Radish â€œGuillermo del Toro on â€˜The Shape of Waterâ€™, the Beauty of Monsters, and Connecting with â€˜Lady Birdâ€™â€ Feb 12,2018