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Ursula (Disney)

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Nice work, boys. That was a close one. Too close! The little tramp. Ah, she's better than I thought. At this rate, he'll be kissing her by sunset for sure! Well, it's time Ursula took matters into her own tentacles! Triton's daughter will be mine, and then I'll make him writhe. I'll see him wriggle like a worm on a HOOK!
~ Ursula before transforming into a human
So much for true love!
~ Ursula's last words before Eric impales her with his ship's splintered bow - her most famous line.

Ursula the Sea Witch (simply known as Ursula) is the main antagonist of Disney's 28th full-length animated feature film, The Little Mermaid.

She is loosely based upon one of the characters in the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of the same name.

She was voiced by Pat Carroll in all of her appearances, who also voiced Ursula's sister, Morgana.

Description

Ursula has the upper body of a pale blueish purple obese female human, while her lower half is that of a black and purple octopus. This both connects and separates her from the average Seafolk.

History

She was once one of the most respected imperial figures in the sea, but by the time the Little Mermaid, Princess Ariel's story, takes place, she is an exiled subject of the King Triton's royal sea court. She was banned from his Kingdom 'Atlantica' after it was rumored that she was trying to overthrow him. When Triton found this to be true, Ursula was forced to live on the abandoned outskirts of the ocean, away from the rest of the Seafolk and the Mer-Civilization. As a way to survive, she took up the skills of dark magic and to secretly spy on Triton and his people via her magic cauldron all in efforts to one day take over his kingdom and become ruler of the ocean. Ursula made her home in the belly of a giant dead leviathan with her pet eels Flotsam & Jetsam.

There Ursula delights in making deals with "poor unfortunate souls", Seafolk and Mer-people who are miserable, lonely, depressed and overall unhappy. She lures them to her underwater chambers and promises to give them their hearts desires if they succeed in the deal she makes with them. But Ursula also secretly sabotages their efforts to do so, thus giving her more power by all the souls she collects as she morphs them into disfigured sea creatures called polyps, which are forever imprisoned into the ground in her underwater 'garden' (which is at the entrance of her chambers). The polyps are usually seen crying in agony, hoping others could avoid their fate and even wrapping themselves around the limbs or wrists of new visitors who are interested in making a deal with Ursula (as they did with Ariel, although Ariel managed to get free). Occasionally, they are fed dead fish by Ursula.

Over the years, Ursula has become one of the most popular and iconic of all the Disney villains, and is one of the franchise's official members. The character has been compared to Madame Medusa from the 1977 film The Rescuers, in terms of style, dramatics and choice of minions. Her character is also based upon "Divine", an American performer, actor, singer and Drag Queen who was associated with legendary independent filmmaker John Waters.

Disney's The Little Mermaid (1989)

Ursula is the cunning Sea Witch who makes deals with Seafolk and Mer-People. If they succeed, they get their heart's desire. If they fail, she adds them to her "Garden", which is a collection of pitiful looking humanoid sea creatures who have grown into the floor. Via her song "Poor Unfortunate Souls", she offers Ariel the chance to be human for 3 days. If she can get the prince to give her "the kiss of true love" the condition would be permanent, but if not, she would be Ursula's property. Ariel thought that Ursula was there to help her, but all Ursula cared about was returning to Atlantica and revenge. Ariel accepts the deal, and Ursula, true to her word, turns her human right then and there, at the cost of her beautiful singing voice.

Vanessa

Vanessa, Ursula's human alter ego

Later in the movie, Ariel is "too close" to accomplishing her goal, so Ursula decides to "take matters into her own tentacles". And by using her powers, she sabotaged Ariel and disguised herself as a beautiful dark-haired woman named "Vanessa", and uses her magic to put Prince Eric in a deep zombie like trance, forcing him to marry her. Ariel and her friends crash the wedding, and though they managed to stop it and release Ariel's voice from Ursula's enchanted necklace, Ariel is too late. Ursula reverts back to her natural form and kidnaps the mermaid. Her father King Triton, who had been warned earlier by Ariel's friend Sebastian, tries to stop Ursula, but Ursula hides behind the contract, demonstrating that it is "legal", "binding", and completely unbreakable, even for someone as superior and powerful as Triton.

The heartbroken king agrees to take his daughter's place, and Ursula finally accomplishes her goal of being the unquestioned ruler of the seas. However, she is angered when Ariel causes her to aim the trident at Flotsam and Jetsam and vaporize them by pulling on her hair. After mourning the loss of Flotsam and Jetsam, mourning them momentarily, she then becomes enraged and grows into a giant monster that reaches the surface and causes a big storm in the ocean, which brings lighting, rain, fierce waves and strong tides. She then traps Ariel in the bottom of a whirlpool she has made and shoots bolts of electricity at the mermaid in attempts to kill her. Luckily Ariel manages to dodge her aim twice.

Thankfully, just as she is about to at last electrocute Ariel to death, Ursula is impaled on the bow of a sunken ship piloted by Eric, which causes her to disintegrate into a gelatinous mass. All the merpeople she kept under her spell, including the king, were transformed into their rightful forms and released from Ursula's lair. Her spells were broken forever, and her wrath and dishonesty were put to an end for good.

She was voiced by Pat Carroll and was originally voiced by Jennifer Saunders.

The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea (2000)

Ursula's sister, Morgana (also voiced by Pat Carroll), is the primary antagonist of the movie. In it, it is revealed that Ursula was far more powerful than her sister, and as such was the family favorite. Morgana has been trying to come out of Ursula's shadow her entire life. When Morgana surreptitiously obtains the trident, she cries to the skies that she is now the favored daughter. However, Ariel's daughter Melody manages to steal the trident back and tosses it back to her grandfather, Triton, who promptly turns Morgana into ice. As she sinks to the bottom of the ocean, a picture of Ursula (at which Morgana regularly threw darts) sinks down with her.

The TV Series

Ursula appeared in the TV series based on the movie as well. She appeared in 4 episodes as the primary antagonist ("Against the Tide", "Tail of Two Crabs", "Heroes" and "Ariel's Treasures"), still opposed to Ariel and her allies.

The Little Mermaid (Broadway musical)

Alg mermaid1

Ursula in the musical.

In the musical, Ursula remains largely the same. Her evil nature is still present, she is still a cruel sadist who delights in the suffering of her "clients", and she is a very powerful witch. However, there are some key differences as well, the largest being that she is now thin and attractive. She is also Triton's sister, making her Ariel's aunt (an unused plotline for the movie). Her conch is no longer a necklace, but is rather kept on a stand. She still gives Ariel her human legs, still tries to sabotage her, and still seduces Eric to try and ruin her chances. However, the Vanessa subplot was removed, and instead of crashing the wedding, Ariel dances for Eric as her entry in his singing contest. Before he decides to be with her and drop is search for "the voice", Ursula crashes the contest and attacks everyone. She obtains Triton's trident and conquers the ocean, but is destroyed when Ariel smashes her conch shell, the source of her power.

In the stage show, she was originally portrayed by veteran Broadway actress, Sheri Renee Scott.

Kingdom Hearts series

Kingdom Hearts

UrsulaKHII

Ursula appears in Kingdom Hearts II

Ursula was one of the Disney villains that was recruited by Maleficent.

Ursula watches Sora defeat the Guard Armor in Traverse Town from her post in Hollow Bastion. She suggests that Maleficent should turn him into a Heartless, and it'll "settle things quick enough". After the defeat of the Opposite Armor, the Hellfire Club is beginning to dwindle. Ursula is still her ally, and appears alongside Oogie Boogie and Jafar, reminding Maleficent of the Princesses of Heart.

She returns to her homeworld of Atlantica where she uses Ariel and Sora to find the world's keyhole, as well as the trident. Once she obtains it, she battles the heroes in her cave, and when she is defeated there, she grows giant like in the movie. However, she is defeated again, and destroyed for good.

As in the movies and the TV series, she is voiced by Pat Carroll.

Kingdom Hearts II

Ursula appears again in Kingdom Hearts II, revived by unknown means. Her role in the game is largely similar to her role in the movie, however, due to the fact that Atlantica is a musical based world in Kingdom Hearts II, she is defeated during the song Ursula's Revenge. Like in the movie, she grows into a giant and attacks Ariel and Eric. Sora knocks the trident out of her hands only for Eric to throw it right through her, killing her.

Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance

Ursula reappeared again in Kingdom Heart: Dream Drop Distance. While Sora and Riku were going through the Keyblade Test, they had to travel to sea. While they were traveling a terrible storm started to occur. Then suddenly, a whirlpool appeared, and a revived Ursula emerged from the seas. Ursula replied that someone knew where Sora and Riku were. With their combined effort, Sora and Riku were able to defeat Ursula. However, when Ursula was defeated, Sora and Riku got sucked into the whirlpool, resulted in them ending up at the keyhole to Traverse Town.

Reflections of Ursula

Arsulu

Arsulu (Ursula in disguise) as seen in Disney's The Little Mermaid: Reflection of Ursula.

Although Vanessa herself doesn't appear in the short story Disney's The Little Mermaid: Reflection of Ursula, she is subtly referenced with Ursula's disguise of Arsulu, a blond mermaid with a red tail and magenta shells which she adopted to infiltrate Atlantica. Just like Vanessa, mirror reflections reveal "Arsulu's" true identity as Ursula, which Ariel later exploited.

Reception

As the first major villain of the "Disney Renaissance", Ursula made a considerable impact. An official poll of the top 30 villains in Disney history put her at #5, and the Nostalgia Critic ranked her #6. Ursula was likely the inspiration for Gnorga from A Troll in Central Park.

Gallery

Videos

Trivia

  • The name of Ursula's human disguise, "Vanessa", is derived from the Latin word "Vanitas", meaning "Vanity", "Worthlessness", "Emptiness" and "Nothingness".
  • In an original draft for The Little Mermaid, Vanessa's role in the plot was quite different than in the final version. Originally, Eric proposed to Vanessa willingly after he discovered that she had the voice he was looking for, although he later had second thoughts at the actual wedding, when Vanessa intimidated him into saying "I do". Also, Vanessa was originally supposed to wear a scarf in order to ensure that her identity as Ursula was safe (as it hid her nautilus) when meeting people up close (such as Ariel).
  • She is one of many villains who is an all-encompassing force.
  • The attack on her was actually much different in the original version, as Scuttle and the various aquatic fauna did not start attacking her and the ship until just before the priest could pronounce them Husband and Wife. While fighting off the animals, Vanessa also nearly hinted that she was never who she claimed she was so she faked fear at a suspicious Eric. Scuttle, in this version, also decided to exploit the fact that Vanessa's true form can be revealed from her reflection by airlifting the mirror from the bridesroom over to her and positioning it near her, but she caught on and destroyed it before he could get into position. However, her reflection was already exposed from water seeping onto the deck from the animals, thus giving away who she really was to Eric. Perhaps the biggest difference is that Vanessa still kept Ariel's voice, though for some reason, she was unable to use it anymore.
  • At one point while Vanessa was being harassed by Scuttle, she yells angrily "Oh, why you little!" and strangles Scuttle in a very similar manner to Homer and Bart in The Simpsons (Coincidentally, both The Little Mermaid and the first Simpsons episode were released in 1989).
  • Her name is never revealed in the film before the wedding; Often in storybooks, she is known as "The Maiden".
  • Vanessa is one of four characters to possess violet eyes, the other three being Aurora, Megara and Doctor Facilier. On a related note, Vanessa was also the first villain to possess purple eyes, eventually being succeeded by Facilier.
  • In the official comic adaptation, Vanessa was shown multiple times singing in Ariel's voice without the necklace hanging around her neck, implying that so long as the necklace is safe, she will be able to speak with Ariel's voice.
  • Ursula is the first major Disney villain to have his/her own song all to his/herself. While the villain songs before her were either sung by the henchman (The Siamese Cat Song, The World's Greatest Criminal Mind and The Elegant Captain Hook), The "funny/incompetent" villains (The Magnificent Marvelous Mad Madam Mim, Hi Diddle Dee Dee, Who's Been Painting My Roses Red and Trust in Me), or the heroes who were against the villains (Cruella De Vil and The Phony King of England), while the "serious/non-comedic" villains (The Evil Queen, The Coachman, Chernabog, Lady Tremaine, Maleficent, Madame Medusa, The Horned King, Bill Sykes, etc.) never sang at all.
  • In Once Upon A Time, Ursula is a goddess of the sea who gives mermaids the ability to walk for 12 hours from high tide till high tide once a year. She never makes contact with Ariel, as the one who made a deal with Ariel was The Evil Queen masquerading as Ursula. She does, however, make contact with the Evil Queen who had deeply offended her by the masquerade, and threatened to show the Queen how real she can actually be if she ever pretended to be her again.


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