Ursula the Sea Witch is a repulsive, rotund sea witch with tentacles featured in the Disney motion picture “The Little Mermaid” (1989) and the CBS cartoon series THE LITTLE MERMAID (1992-94).
Ursula lives at the bottom of the sea where she tends her garden of lost souls (polyps), the remnants of individuals who had gambled their souls in exchanged for some favor.
One day, Ursula lures a little mermaid named Ariel who wants to be human into her lair with the help of her two pet eels, Flotsam and Jetsam. She then offers Ariel the chance to find true love with Prince Eric, a human she had rescued from a ship that sank during a storm. Ariel, who was obsessed with being human and seeing Prince Eric, takes a chance and signs away her soul as collateral. But with conditions.
The Witch tells Ariel that she will make Ariel human in exchange for her voice which she snatches and puts into a conch shell. The other stipulation to her deal was to get the prince to give Ariel a “kiss of true love” within 3 days. If she did, she can stay a human. If not, she will belong to the Sea Witch.
But Ursula doesn’t play fair and she uses Ariel’s own voice (stored in a magic conch shell worn around Ursula’s neck) and the disguise of a beautiful woman (“Vanessa”) to fool Prince Eric into thinking that she was the one who rescued him. Of course, Ursula’s ruse works and Prince Eric plans a wedding that coincidentally occurs on the sunset of the third day when Ariel’s time is up.
Tragedy struck Ursula, however, when her identify was exposed after the conch shell that held Ariel’s voice was recovered and the Prince realized that Ariel – now speaking with her true voice – was his true love. But, a deals a deal, and at the setting of the sun, Ursula grabs Ariel and drags her to the bottom of the sea.
Interceding with Ursula for his daughter’s life, Ariel’s father, Triton, the Kind of the Sea (and Ursula’s true target) bargains to take his daughter’s place. This leaves Triton trapped as a polyp in Ursula’s garden and Ursula now the supreme ruler of the ocean bottom.
But after Ursula accidentally kills her pet eels, she becomes enraged and her fury increases the size of her body to gigantic proportions. This enables Prince Eric to ram a large wooden shaft from a ship into Ursula’s heart and kill the sea witch.
As Ursula’s body sank to the bottom of the sea, Ariel and Prince Eric depart. They are later married aboard ship with both human and mer-people in attendance. And so, except for Ursula and her eels, everyone lived happily after.
NOTE: “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” is loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fable. In the sequel animated adventure “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea” (2000) we are introduced to Morgana, Ursula’s Evil sister (voiced by Pat Carroll) who seeks revenge for the death of her sibling.
This time around, Morgana wants to destroy Melody, the 12-year-old daughter of Ariel and Eric by promising to make the girl a mermaid, if she will steal the magic trident from King Triton (who, unknown to her, is her grandfather). But like her sister, Morgana is destroyed in an epic battle of good and evil.
Ursula the Sea Witch
c/o Lost Garden of Souls
Bottom of the Sea
Disney’s The Little Mermaid (IMDB)
The Little Mermaid (IMDB)
The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (IMDB)
Ursula the Sea Witch – The Witch takes the Little Mermaid’s voice (Video)
Ursula the Sea Witch – The Defeat of Ursula the Sea Witch (Video)