The heroine of the 1989 film, loosely based on the Danish fairy tale “Den Lille Havfrue” by Hans Christian Andersen, and the daughter of King Triton, ruler of the sea, 16-year old mermaid Ariel falls in love with a dashing human prince named Eric, an extension of her facination with all things from the surface world. Her dream of life on land makes her vulnerable to Ursula’s offer as her only chance to be with Eric. Ursula pursueades her to trade her voice to the sea witch (who was supposed to be her aunt in the uncut version of the film), in order to become a human and be with him forever. However, Ursula cunningly tricks her. She is the 7th youngest daughter of Triton and the only Disney Princess to be a mother with her daughter Melody.
Hans Christian Andersen’s original character dissolves into foam on the sea after the prince marries someone else, but through an act of compassion is transformed into a spirit of the air. Co-director Ron Clements felt the story was too tragic and changed the original character from the tragic but hopeful heroine, to the brave and resourceful Ariel.