M is for Mermaids and Mermen #atozchallenge

Posted April 15, 2013 in A-Z Challenge / 9 Comments

[Painting by John William Waterhouse,
public domain image]

Today I’m continuing with the Blogging from A-Z Challenge hosted by Arlee Bird and his team of awesome bloggers. My theme is: Elements and features of speculative fiction and entertainment. So throughout April I will be blogging about characters, objects and themes that appear in sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian series. Today’s post is all about Mermaids and Mermen.

Mermaids are legendary creatures with the torso of a human and the tail of a fish. They appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. They are sometimes depicted as perilous creatures associated with floods, storms, shipwrecks and drownings. However, they can also be benevolent creatures in some tales. They are associated with the Sirens from Greek mythology and have been a popular subject of art and literature in recent centuries, since Hans Christian Anderson wrote the fairy tale ‘The Little Mermaid’ in 1836.


  • In the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, mermaids are portrayed as beautiful but deadly women who are lured to the surface by man-made lights or sailors’ singing. They rise up from the waves and entrance men with their beauty, then drag them under the water and drown them. The mermaids of Whitecap Bay appeared as very beautiful women above the water, but once under water their skin became covered in scales, fangs grew in their mouths and their eyes changed to unnatural colours. In order to complete the ritual at the Fountain of Youth, Blackbeard and his crew have to capture a mermaid at Whitecap Bay and place one of her tears in a chalice, otherwise the fountain will not work. Some pirates tie mermaids within reach of water, yet leaving their bodies to slowly dry out, in an attempt to harvest their tears. One of the mermiads, Syrena, proves to be very different from her vicious kind and falls in love with a human, as in The Little Mermaid fairytale. 
  • In the Harry Potter series, merpeople live in the Black Lake at Hogwarts. Harry encounters them during the Triwizard Tournament. They have greyish skin and long, wild, dark green tentacles. Their eyes are yellow, as are their broken teeth, and they wear thick ropes of pebbles around their necks as necklaces. Their powerful, silver fish tails allow them to swim expertly, while the upper parts of their bodies resemble those of humans. Their language is Mermish, and only a few wizards know how to speak it. It can only be heard properly underwater, as above the waves it sounds like high-pitched screeching. They have a great love of music.
  • In the TV show Charmed, mermaids are immortal creatures with enhanced speed and agility, and the ability to sense other magical beings. One of the episodes, A Witch’s Tail,  is a retelling of The Little Mermaid. A mermaid makes a deal with the Sea Hag who promises  to grant her legs for a month to find love. If she didn’t find it within a month, the hag would drain her immortality by placing an auger shell on her heart. Phoebe later becomes a mermaid temporarily.

Recommended Reads:

Who is your favourite merperson? Would you like to be a mermaid/merman?


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9 responses to “M is for Mermaids and Mermen #atozchallenge

  1. Gah! I love mermaids! (Did you see the Animal Planet special where they talked about how mermaids COULD ACTUALLY EXIST? I about peed my pants!)

    Also, I haven't heard of a lot of those books, I'll have to add them to my Goodreads! Thanks!

    (Dropping in from the AZ Challenge. Keep up the good work!)

  2. My Samuel McCord's beloved Meilori is a mermaid of sorts, being made of stardust and the sea. She is my favorite mermaid. Second would be Disney's Little Mermaid. I'm a softie at heart. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the recommendations for the mermaid books. I'm glad you mentioned The Little Mermaid- that's one of my favorite Disney movies.

  4. I don't have a favorite mermaid in contemporary lit but they will always remind of my son. When he was 3-4 years old, he would always light up when Ariel from the Little Mermaid would first appear on the screen. He was in love! I like to remind him of that, but of course, he won't admit to crushing on a fictional character now.

  5. @Lynne- no I didn't see that episode but wow, if that were true I would be amazed and overjoyed!

    @Roland-Meilori is a perfect name for a mermaid, how do you come up with these wonderful names? I love that she's made of 'stardust and sea'. Beautiful!

    @Janeal-no I've not really gotten into the whole craze either. Still a few years behind everyone else with my reading!

    @Cynthia-me too, I can watch it again and again. It's such a lovely, uplifting tale with great music.

    @Patricia-yeah I'd like to read more too. I was surprised at how many are out there now.

    @Dawn-aww, I like Ariel is a totally acceptable crush. I fancied the pants of Prince Eric (and still kinda do).

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