Unit 7: Inventive Writing  
View this email in your browser
April 2017
Unit 7: Inventive Writing 

Dear Readers,

IEW is excited to announce another fun and exciting writing opportunity for students! If you missed the original announcement, here it is for your convenience:  


Starting this month, IEW will publish a new piece to their story (written by students) and then give young writers instructions on what to write to join in the exciting journey each month through December. The plot will continue from month to month until it reaches its exciting conclusion! One submission each month will win a $50 IEW gift certificate and be published! Submit below.

Would you like to help IEW build a story? Marcus and Julia, brother and sister in ancient Rome, are living in crazy times! Their father is away in the emperor’s army, so they are building their own business and helping their uncle find connections in order to sell food to the Roman emperor’s palace. But this is the infamous "Year of the Four Emperors" in Rome, and no one is sure who will be emperor next! As political intrigue spins out of control, what will happen to their uncle’s business? Will their father return? How will their family survive?

These are the sorts of questions that YOU will answer! Starting in March, IEW will publish a new monthly prompt and writing assignment to let you Join the Journey!

Here’s how it will work:
  • Read the story for the month. Then, read and follow your instructions in the "How to Join the Journey" section.

  • Each month’s story will build on the previous month’s, allowing you to join an exciting journey!

  • Nine months of storyline have been developed, but the ending to the story will be up to you, our writers. December’s entry will call for a sequel, an expansion idea from page 32 in Unit 3 in the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style Seminar Workbook. The end of the epic tale is up to you! We will select the official ending to our story from among December’s submissions.

  • For basic guidelines, please follow the instructions at magnumopusmagazine.com/ writers-guidelines. Submissions should be written with the Structure and Style Writing Method™, just like any other Magnum Opus submission. Content should be family-friendly, and the overall length of each month’s submission will be 3–5 paragraphs.

  • When finished, writers for Join the Journey should click the “Submit” button at the bottom of the page for the correct month. All submissions will be due one month after their prompt is first published in our newsletter.

Each month from now until December, IEW will select one winner from that month’s submissions. The winner will receive a $50 IEW gift certificate, $50 in cash for the student, and publication on our website as part of our ongoing story. A link to the final combined story will be published in our next Magnum Opus Magazine. As a special bonus, the skilled writer who submits the story’s official ending will be featured in an interview in the Magnum Opus!

The Join the Journey writing contest is open to students aged 8–18. Submissions must be the original, previously unpublished work of the student. All submissions become the sole property of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, L.L.C.

We hope your students will enjoy this creative writing opportunity. Congratulations to our student writers who are published in this newsletter:

Michael Bowen
Alyssa Friedman
Emily Mayer
Ty Orsag
Anna Whaley


Thank you to all the students who submitted their work to our Unit 7 newsletter. Keep writing and submit again!




Megan L. Horst

Managing Editor

Upcoming Writing Opportunities

Unit 8 – April 17

Unit 9 – May 8

Fiction – June 26

Poetry & Journalism – July 24

Escape from World War II
by Emily Mayer, age 11
September 7, 1939

Today was one of the saddest days of my life. I am leaving next week, traveling to a place by the name of America. My eleven-year-old brother has a friend who describes America as having monsters and snakes everywhere. I don’t think I believe him, especially since he knows I don’t like snakes. My littlest sibling, Sarah, thinks what he says is true. She is the one who is the most scared. Then again, she is five. I am bringing her a doll to play with. In my bag sits the journal my father gave me for my thirteenth birthday and some storybooks for my eight- and nine-year-old brothers. Also, beans and bacon will be added to our load. Mama tells me that she will pack five strawberries, one for each of us, but we have to eat them right when we sit down on the boat or they will become old. I think the hardest part will be putting our gas masks on and saying our farewells. I hope there aren’t too many tears shed.

September 13, 1939

It has been six days since farewell. All I have seen so far are waves, clouds, birds, and then waves, clouds, birds, and more waves, clouds, and birds. For six days it has been the same thing over and over again. Sarah is scared, my eight-year-old brother, James, is excited, and my older brother, Tom, and I are just plain bored. Bored of bacon, bored of waves, clouds, and birds. Bored of sitting on a boat wondering—are we to be treated cruelly or kindly, are we to be forgotten or remembered, and most of all, who are our new guardians? James will not change his mind that our guardians are a replacement for our parents. I keep telling him they are not.  Jacob, my eight-year-old brother, and James’ other half, has been quiet ever since we left the dock. I know he is worried. Will this war ever end? Will our family ever be the same again?

October 16, 1939

Our trip lasted four weeks, but we finally arrived. We were dropped off at the dock, where a woman of twenty years and boy of eleven picked us up and led us to a wagon pulled by horses. The horses hauled us to a mansion, where a man of about twenty-three was waiting for us. The man and woman, aka Mr. and Mrs. May, told us the house rules and explained that the eleven-year-old boy, whose name is Gabriel, is also here as an evacuee. Mr. May also told us to call them Mr. and Mrs. May and that we are free to do whatever we want when we are not in school. Mealtimes are strict, rules are to be obeyed, and school is to be done wholeheartedly. We were then lead to a blue-painted room with a bunkbed and a whole bookshelf full of books—book after book to read. This is to be James’ and Jacob’s room. We dropped them off so they could make themselves at home and then headed to the room where Gabriel and Tom will stay. This time, the room was painted green with two twin beds and another bookshelf crammed with books. Next, a pink room came into view. There were white drapes and a bunkbed and, as you might have guessed, a bookshelf. It was lined with books for Sarah and I, but what I liked most of all was a new journal for when this one has all of its pages filled with everything I have seen, heard, smelled, tasted, and touched. Besides the bookshelf, a radio was there. Mr. May said, and I quote, it is to be used “to see if your parents are safe and sound.”  I love this house, but I miss the old one I used to call home.

December 20, 1941

The house is decorated with Christmas everywhere! Our guardians tell us—the boys, Gabriel, Sarah, and I—that we shall receive three presents each. I can’t wait to see what mine will be!  Tom declares that he doesn’t need any presents, just Gabriel, his family, and his guardians. (I think he is still receiving some presents.) School is good. I have made a few friends. It surprises me that Sarah, on the other hand, has made friends with all of the kids in her class plus all of the ones in the grade below. She is a very smart seven-year-old, and she still loves to play and read with me. I wouldn’t—couldn’t—trade her for the world. I am glad to report that Jacob is himself again, back to being James’ other half. I still see a distant look in his eyes, though. The same is true for all of us kids, even Gabriel. Tom and I have sent letters home, but no reply has returned. We wonder if our parents are still alive or if they are to become a distant memory.

August 15, 1945

Today was a day worth writing about! We were all sitting around the radio, Mrs. May crocheting and Mr. May drinking his tea, when suddenly we heard: “We interrupt this broadcast for some important news. The war that has brought devastation, the war that has torn families apart, the war that has killed many of our neighbors and friends, has finally, and I mean finally, ended on this day, August 15, 1945…” We needn’t hear more. Mrs. May dropped her needles. Mr. May put down his cup of tea with a clank, ran over to Sarah, picked her up, and swung her around with a cry of pure glee. James and Jacob jumped up and started to yell with all of their might: “We are traveling home!” Tom, Gabriel, and I laughed with the glorious joy we had dreamed about for years.

Over these last few hours, though, our happiness has turned into horrible sadness. It seems, now, that we have walked into a terrible reality in which we will never see Gabriel or Mr. and Mrs. May again. Every time I pack, a tear slips from my eye. Maybe part of our reason for being so melancholy is that we have not heard from our parents. Our grandparents are to pick us up and tell us all that there is to be known. We will depart tomorrow, and may God bless Gabriel, Mr. and Mrs. May, and our dead—or living—parents.

"Quest for Freedom"
by Ty Orsag, age 13

       Cold. Hunger. Both normal for a slave on a plantation. Eli lived on a Virginian plantation in 1852. Because of slavery, he and his mother, father, and little brother, Josiah, were forced to work day and night. Because of slavery, Eli’s brother, James, had been sold away from the rest of the family. Because of slavery, he and his family had nothing but a dirt-floored, falling-down wood shack to call “home.”


       But one night Eli’s parents seemed strangely preoccupied. After darkness had pressed its hand over the plantation, all slaves upon fear of being whipped were supposed to be asleep. (Not that there was enough light to work by anyway.) However, that night everyone was awake. Eli's father, who was leaning against the cold wall near the door, put his ear to a crack in the wood for the fifteenth time and shook his head slightly. Eli, who was sitting near his mother, asked her for the fifteenth time why they were being still, and got a fifteenth “Shh” in reply. Josiah started to nod his head. Then, Eli heard the call. It was the soft song of a quail, so hushed that Eli had been hearing it for a minute without noticing. His father sat, motionless for just one moment longer, then jumped up, gathered his family around him, and opened the door. The four slaves hurried out the door and into the pitch-black night.


       Eli had never seen night before. Not being allowed out after dark, and having no windows in his shack, the closest thing to nighttime he had ever seen was sunset, when he marched back from the fields in the evening. However, that night he had no time to admire the sky full of stars. The family slipped through the silky shadows, pausing only in the places where the dark lay so thickly one could taste the dustiness of the gloom. No one spoke.


       Coming to the fence that surrounded the plantation, Eli noticed that the usually locked gate was not locked at all, but swinging loosely on its hinges and groaning in the slight wind. It was as if the road was lit beneath their feet, the way the four figures walked purposefully. Like dogs on a scent. Dogs. There was a reason that the comparison came so quickly to Eli's mind. All around them was the taste of darkness, the smell of shadow, the feel of gloom, and the baying of dogs. They ran. If the night had been a dog house, it could not have been more full of the wild voices of the hounds. The sound of a dog's bark to an owner is nothing less than loving, as a hound’s crazed yelp to a slave was nothing less than the sound of despair, the cry of failure, the voice of doom. The minds of the family suddenly teemed with horrid images of fanged, hairy beasts launching themselves through the shadows.


       Suddenly, the ground gave way under Eli's feet, and he went plummeting down until he landed in a shallow creek with a splash. Soaked and dripping, he stood and watched the rest of his family scramble down the short slope. They splashed up the stream for a while to throw the hounds off their scent, then climbed up the other side. Quietly they ran along the path of the stream. In rapid succession the tiny creek became a flowing current and then a rushing river.


       In the moonlight, mist was rising from the very ground itself. Thin curls of gray like the hands of long-dead spirits twisted and spun, dissolving into the blackened sky. Soon, they were clutching Eli’s clothes and skin, casting a gloomy shroud over his vision. However, if the family was terrified before, they were soon shocked by a bright light casting through the fog. Eli felt himself shoved flat against the musty earth. But when he looked up, expecting to see an armed search party, he was instead startled to see a boat, silver in the fog. Upon its prow was set a glowing lantern, raising the blanket of shadow. Through the shining mist, the mast of wood seemed to be of gold and the boat of dancing light. On the bow, a young man stood. His illuminated face was one that none of Eli’s family members had hope of seeing again. But Eli recognized his brother, James, and the family stood as one to hail the boat. They would have to survive many dangers before the trip was over such as slave catchers and bounty hunters, but someday the four slaves would step from the ship onto northern soil. They would be free!

Withstanding the Droughts of Life
by Michael Bowen, age 14

      At the roots of some of history’s greatest leaders, warriors, and writers are their humble country beginnings, the places where they learned the basics of success. Think for a moment. Uniquely quite a number of America’s great icons, heroes, and warriors were raised in rural areas of this great nation, such as Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and Virginia. Today the farm, ranch, and homestead are symbols of the golden years of the cowboy and farmer. Even in modern times, many rural traditions are still carried out, appreciated, and believed in. Instead of abandoning the values of their resilient and self-reliant ancestors of old, farmers today traditionally pass down their values to the next generation of young ranchers and farmers. These traditions are to be applied "in the field” and carry the firm values of their predecessors to keep the traditions alive. Although the values taught to young children who live on the farm are learned early, they also apply to others living in the city, despite these values not being learned until much later in urban environments. Youth, no matter what age or location, must learn of responsibility, business, and most importantly, seeking the transparent hand of God. The family farm is the best place to instill in children the valuable life skills they will call upon during the droughts of life. Here, they learn “to make hay while the sun shines”.


      Responsibility and discipline are crucial skills for those who are living and working on an actively functioning farm. While engaging in day-to-day operations, farm kids must be responsible and trustworthy enough to be able to accomplish a tremendous variety of tasks. Responsibility comes into play when one is operating heavy machinery, such as a tractor with a rotary mower used to clear away underbrush in a pasture. Understanding the importance of this task, children can participate in mending the spiky barbed wire fences. This job is part of the work that goes into a successful livestock operation because if the fences are down, the livestock, such as cattle, are prone to wander across roads or anywhere that meets their fancy. So keeping fences monitored and in prime condition is very much necessary.


      Maintaining equipment is also a greasy, but necessary, job to keep equipment functioning properly. Greasiness is half the fun! But nothing is more classic than a small family piling into the old farm truck with the deranged dog and checking on their herd of cows before sundown. Sometimes, the constant monitoring of the cows proves worthwhile when a cow becomes sick or has difficulty calving. Occasionally the entire family will have to assist in the delivery of the calf. Much work is required, but the end result is always satisfying.


      Decision making is also an import factor, which children learn as they are gradually granted more responsibility. When one is out alone in a distant pasture, sometimes decisions must be made quickly. If a situation arises, one must decide how to handle it and whether the situation is life-threatening. Unsurprisingly, many hazards are a part of living and growing up on a farm. Most are dangers to livestock, but some can be to life and limb! The coyote, although a scavenger, is a potential threat to young newborn calves, as are stray dogs. Wild boars are severely and explicitly hazardous and notorious for rooting up grazing pastures. Children learn, with guidance from their parents, about risk and threat management while learning to deal with such four-legged or cold-blooded problems. Charging bulls, stampeding cattle, and spooky horses are some other potential hazards. To overcome all of these challenges are mere matters of discipline, responsibility, leadership, trust, tactfulness, and making sound decisions with common sense.


      Having successfully overcome the challenges of farming and raised a crop of calves or other kind of livestock, one must also be knowledgeable in the field of business and economics. Commonly these topics surface at the farming family’s dinner table. Although farming is not quite rocket science, one must be aware of many different subjects before sending four-hundred-pound steers to market. Before selling livestock in a musty stockyard, one must try to sell at the most prime time to maximize profit because farmers depend on receiving top dollar for their livestock. This is key. When the sale takes place, farm kids learn that doing research can really pay off. One must be clearly aware of whether the prices of the cattle market are going up or down and what the larger economy is doing. The price per pound recovered at the market or stockyard determines the shape of a farmer’s finances and expenses for the next year. If livestock is not sold when the time is right and the prices are high, ultimately the farmer will struggle with funds to pay taxes, purchase hay for winter, and a number of other different financial and farm-related difficulties.


      Part of planning is preparing for the frigid winter’s food supply, which consists of the farmer managing his pastures and planting them with rye grass, calculating how many pounds per acre to spread, how many bags of seed he will need, how much time he should spend on each acre, and if he will spread fertilizer. These are many factors that are dictated by the funds, which are dictated by the prosperity of the sale. Kids play a significant role in making these calculations and assisting with the farming operations. From taking livestock to market to planting seed, the children get to help every step of the way. Much depends on the farmer’s business and economical tactfulness. He works hard. He is dedicated. He prospers.


     When living on a farm, one can observe the hand of God in everything from life to death, in famine and drought to prosperity and lush pastures. Rural children experience the harsh realities of life when checking on livestock only to find that one has perished from old age, sickness, birthing its young, or being attacked by a predator. Yet few children will ever observe a mother cow delivering a calf and view the brand-new baby hobbling feebly to its ivory-white hooves. Lowing softly, the mother comforts and nuzzles her new responsibility as the calf begins to nurse. The moment lasts a lifetime. Throughout one’s life, they experience this humbling wonder and are reminded that the Sovereign Creator is always omnipresent and dwelling among us, though we cannot detect Him.


      When the first blades of the emerald spring grass begin to protrude from the thawing soil, a fragrance of revival is transmitted on the wind. Yet the whispering seasons will have gently come and gone like a shooting star skimming through a midnight sky. One can find His fingerprints and artistry everywhere—the fragility of the spider’s web, the sophisticated simplicity of a dandelion, or the incredible, revolutionary design of a beaver’s dam. The artistry of the Supreme Artist is always readily observed; one must merely know where to search. And even when a drought or a severe freeze comes, who is it that delivers the turn of the season? Clearly, it is the hand of God. Farm children are privileged to witness this first person as they grow closer to the Lord while they spiritually take His hand and walk with Him.


      Without a doubt the farm is the best place to raise children. Of most significance is the fact that it is within the arms of a loving and caring family that children will learn of responsibility and discipline, business and finances, and most importantly, the majestic hand of God in action. Unfortunately, an uncertain and unbalanced world awaits the next young generation. What better place to become exposed to the values of great heroes than the farm? The hand of the Supreme Artist is being spitefully eradicated from almost every aspect of a child’s life. Removing Him from schools and pretty much everywhere in modern culture, people have relegated God to the back seat. This is beginning to have despondent effects on the morality of society. But He is always with His people, in prosperity and in drought. While hard to overcome, these faults of society present marvelous opportunities for today’s youth to step up to the plate and exhibit the qualities that are required to keep America going strong and help her survive the storm. Time is of the essence. Although many problems, tests, and trials exist, the farm is a rather controlled and forgiving environment, overflowing with learning situations involving safety, common sense, budgeting, discipline, and many other virtues. As for the children, everything starts at home, with a loving family instilling the life skills necessary to withstand the droughts of life and the discipline and faith to follow God’s path into the unknown and unforeseen future.


Irish Home
by Anna Whaley, age 14

      Why visit Ireland? From its long history to its fascinating customs, Ireland’s culture will permeate one’s mind constantly. Hailing from the line of the Irish, one could be convinced to move back to where their courageous ancestors came from. Although Ireland is a relatively small country, it is very religious and has excellent colleges and universities. Commonly, when living in a small town, the community proves to be tightly knit. The fascinating culture alone would convince one to visit one of these towns. Since there are lovely scenic views at every turn, this too might make some relocate to the charming country. Ireland is stunning. Ireland has scrumptious food, which is the best reason of them all to move. Ireland is a wonderful alternative if one is longing for an enchanting vacation or somewhere to move out-of-country because it is so inviting and convenient.        


      Culture is built on history. The culture, which is like a strategic woven tapestry, is the most unique part of marvelous Ireland. Since main parts of Ireland’s spell-binding history and culture are arts, acting, dancing, singing, and literature, they are still popular today. Surprising for some to discover, there are many actors in the history of Ireland. Religion is another vital part of the Irish because the majority of the increasingly diverse population is Roman Catholic. Notoriously, one of their popular celebrations is St. Patrick’s Day. Concerning the blazing spring-green shamrock, which St. Patrick used as a representation of the Trinity, this holiday is a popular symbol of the Irish.


      Because of the vast variety of flavorful food, one could evaluate moving to Ireland. Food is deeply rooted in the Irish culture. A staple in their delicious meals is the potato. As an abundance of appetizing vegetables like cabbage, turnips, and carrots is available, the Irish eat them often. Agriculture has always been a significant part of their lifestyle because it was always an economic demand. Amazingly, the Irish eat four appetizing meals a day: breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner. The tasty food is unique. Some distinctively popular Irish foods, which are mouth-watering, are bangers and mash, mushy peas, fish and chips, and Irish stew. “It’s the sweet grass-reared lamb that makes my stew so tasty and admired,” states Mary Gleeson of Gleeson’s Town House and Restaurant. Tasting the delectable yet unique food, one might consider moving to Ireland.  


      Ireland is filled to the brim with gorgeous natural wonders. Giants Causeway consists of colossal charcoal-colored pillar-shaped rocks that are alluring yet unique. The cliffs of Moher, which plunge to the sapphire ocean below, are massive and breathtaking. Entrancing, the view leaves one who has visited the cliffs in awe. They are unforgettable. Because the spell-binding castles and ruins that cover Ireland are mysteriously captivating, many are intrigued by their past. Desperately preferring seclusion over a giant bustling city, one will not be disappointed by the rolling emerald hills of the brilliant countryside although some may argue that tasteful Irish cities are just as agreeable a getaway. Amid the unimaginable abundance of beauty, one might move to Ireland because of the various natural wonders.


      Ireland is a wonderful alternative if one is longing for an enchanting vacation or somewhere to move out-of-country because it is so inviting and convenient. Since the culture is so distinctive, it also brings families together through different arts. The food is very yummy. Stretching over the island, the inspiring beauty shows God’s work, which is glorious. Gently rolling hills offer a sense of calm and refreshment. In conclusion, Ireland is best for one hunting for a different atmosphere. Ireland is an exquisite vacation. Ireland is adored by many. Ireland could be home.    



Two Fishy Tales
by Alyssa Friedman, age 18 

      Once upon a time, in the far away land of Odense, Denmark, there lived a boy whose imagination was as wonderful as the most magnificent of palaces. But he was not a handsome prince. No, this boy was lanky and gangly, an ugly duckling of sorts. Yet what he lacked in physique he made up for in wild imagination. Although this boy soon grew to be a man faced with countless trials and tribulations, his incredible gift of wonder was a cherished treasure he refused to bury. He wrote pieces of his mind on paper to be shared joyously with the world. This is the story of the man who created “once upon a time,” Hans Christian Andersen.


       Renowned worldwide for his tantalizing fairytales, this brilliant storyteller is particularly praised for one of his most morbid, melancholy stories, “The Little Mermaid.” Although many grew up on the friendly 1989 Disney-animated musical adaptation by the same title, the short story is far more unsettling and downright depressing. However grand the differences, the plots still share a rather rudimentary recapitulation. Curiously fixated on a world she cannot have and enchanted by a handsome prince, the Little Mermaid seeks freedom from her fin. Through the aid of a sea witch, the heroine’s wish for legs is granted in return for her hypnotizing voice. But all magic comes with a price. In a heated race against the clock, the princess must share true love with the prince or suffer a formidable, unfortunate fate. Diving headfirst into the stormy differences and striking similarities between the characters, conflicts, and climaxes of these two fishy tales, one must be sure to hold on to his or her tail.


      Capitalizing on the stereotypical theme of good versus evil, which Disney is notorious for, the characters from the movie are wildly different and much friendlier than those of the story. Beginning with the protagonist in the movie, one would examine Ariel, a strong, independent free spirit who desires to follow her heart, marry the prince, and spend her life as a human. Alternately, the Little Mermaid, a thoughtful, quiet girl consumed by her dreams to live in another world, desires to gain an immortal soul by marrying a prince, thus rendering her human forever. Although handsome on the outside, the Prince from the story only admires the Little Mermaid because she loves him “more than anybody” and reminds him of the woman he believes to have saved his life after a shipwreck. In contrast, deuteragonist Prince Eric is kind, aware that Ariel is in love with him, and mirrors those feelings to the point that he selflessly endangers his own life when hers is threatened. In typical Disney style, the Sea Witch in the movie is portrayed not as the mysterious, magical barterer from the short story, but as the antagonist Ursula, a ravenous villain out for revenge and power, reeking of desperation and wicked spunk. Ironically, the character least discussed in “The Little Mermaid,” the princess’s father, the Sea King, plays an incredibly prominent role in the movie. Equipped with a powerful trident and bulging biceps, King Triton is a strong merman and caring father with strict rules to protect his daughters against the dangers of the world above. Clearly, from major to minor, the characters differ immensely as one must really scratch his or her head to discover the hidden resemblances.


      The similarities between the main conflicts of the movie and the short story remain that the young mermaids strongly desire to live among humans. However, their motivations for doing so vary significantly in both stories. In the hackneyed Disney version, Ariel’s desire to live on land is greatly intensified by her chance encounter and consequent obsession with the handsome Prince Eric. Smelling the scent of her sorrows, Ursula feeds on the princess’s misery, manipulating her into accepting a deal which exchanges her gorgeous voice for three days of legs on land. If Ariel fails to kiss the prince and overcome the sinister squid’s obstacles by sunset on the third day, she will lose her legs and her soul will become slave to Ursula’s garden of gnarly, tortured creatures forever.


      Similarly, the Little Mermaid also trades her voice, but the Sea Witch brutally cuts off her tongue to remove it, forces her to leave her family and tail behind forever, and declares that she must “win the love of the Prince so completely that…he forgets his father and mother…If he marries someone else, [the mermaid’s] heart will break on the very next morning, and [she] will become foam on the sea.” Furthermore, once her fin transforms into “shapely legs,” she will experience excruciating pain each time her feet touch the ground. Arguably, the Little Mermaid’s sacrifices and conflict, fairly exacerbated by the harrowing description and detail of Hans Christian Andersen, are much heavier than that of Ariel’s. Will the mermaids survive and conquer their predicaments? Tragically, only one princess experiences her “happily ever after.”


      As disturbing as the plot of “The Little Mermaid” may be, the movie adaptation is simply an exhausting attempt at lengthening a very short story, creating a rather tedious, rambling production which viewers could liken to trudging through a vat of thick mud. Comically, the climaxes and resolutions of both stories differ so greatly that one begins to wonder if the movie is really based on the short story. Leading up to the climax of the movie, Ariel kisses Eric, but the sun has already set. All hope seems lost until King Triton wins “Father Merman of the Year” as he trades his soul and powerful trident for Ariel’s safety. Ursula transforms herself into a monstrous, all-powerful squid intent on wreaking havoc. But, after a heroic battle, the climax of the movie ends with Prince Eric saving the day and having an enormous meal of calamari a la Ursula. The story concludes with a freed King Triton granting his daughter her wish to be human. All conflicts are resolved. Eric and Ariel live happily ever after.


      Now, if one is smiling in hopes of another happy conclusion for the short story as well, they should be prepared to be sorely disappointed. The Little Mermaid fails her task as the Prince marries another woman. Faced with death by sea foam, the mermaid is ready to accept her fate when her sisters appear with a magical dagger. If the Little Mermaid drives the dagger through the Prince’s beating heart, she will live with an immortal soul. Blinded by a love that refuses to be returned, the princess does not slay the Prince and dies, as the story transitions seamlessly from climax to dénouement. Here, the mermaid finds that her selfless act has saved her from becoming “foam on the sea” as she becomes an invisible spirit of the air, to which after around three hundred  years of good deeds she may be “given an immortal soul and a share in mankind’s eternal bliss.” One version has people cringing from clichés and the other howling in regret as Hans Christian Andersen brutally trades his story for one’s dreams of happy endings.


      Unsurprisingly, the original “Little Mermaid” is a heartfelt metaphor for Hans Christian Andersen’s own experience with unrequited love, but how does this warrant it a tale suitable for children’s growth? The suggested idea from the story that one must sacrifice so much for even the possibility of achieving one’s dreams, only to have them unceremoniously ripped away and subsequently die a miserable death, is a horrendous belief for a young explorer of the world to carry. Furthermore, the last paragraph of the story states that God may shorten or lengthen the air spirits’ sentence if the children that they invisibly visit are “[pleasing] his parents and [deserve] their love.” In all seriousness, this seems to be a hastily added passage of unnecessary fluff. To even imply that children should behave appropriately from a place of fear, not love, is a powerful lesson in motivation that unequivocally should never be taught, unless one wishes to create a controlled, destructive society like that of 1984.


      It is funny how Andersen’s allegory meant for a lover is one of the most widely known and encouraged fairy tales on the planet. Even the Disney version is equally horrendous as it yet again adopts that absolutist view, suggesting that those with evil intentions are simply unredeemable souls and that “happily ever after” is a princess marrying a prince. Perhaps it is perpetuating beliefs such as these, specifically targeting younger generations, that creates more problems than solutions. Most significantly, neither “The Little Mermaid” nor the Disney version are superior to the other, for the pros and cons of each fail to outweigh the nagging flaw that appears to connect all fairy tales: are these magical stories creating dreams or wrongly influencing children into adopting those dreams, beliefs, and morals of the author’s creation? After thorough dissection of these two fishy tales, it is quite a shame that neither lives up to its name or fame.

Find us on Twitter
Find us on Facebook
Copyright © 2016 The Insitute for Excellence In Writing (IEW). All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
8799 N 387 Rd, Locust Grove, OK 74352

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list