Ariel is a mermaid that stars in Disney's 1989 production, The Little Mermaid. She is a stubborn teenager (is this phrase redundant?) and frequently gets into trouble with her father, King Triton, who seeks to avoid contact with the human world rather religiously.

Ariel lives in Atlantica, which is an undersea city constructed from coral and an unknown metallic substance that manages to survive constant exposure to salt water. In Atlantica, pretty much all sea life, from sponges to dolphins to sharks to jellyfish, are sentient and can speak English. This lends rather well to amusing sitautions. Note that Atlantica should not be confused with Atlantis, which was supposedly a human city.

Her favorite pasttime is going up to the surface to watch and study humans, and to collect their paraphernalia, much to her father's annoyance. The human world fascinates her to no end; it's a classic case of "the grass is greener on the other side". This is especially depicted in the TV series, which accounts her adventures before the movie.

All of this obsession eventually culminates in her falling in love with a human, Prince Eric. We don't know the name of the Kingdom Eric is a prince of, and we never see his parents, but all that is inconsequential. Ariel strikes up a dangerous deal with Ursula the Sea Witch to become human, and eventually gets to be with her prince. Awww.

Ariel's voice, in all the productions she's been in, is provided by Jodi Benson. You may have also heard her voice in Barbie commercials and in some other Disney movies.

Ariel is the name of the air spirit (sylph) bound to Prospero in William Shakespeare's The Tempest. Cletus the Foetus notes that Prospero refers to Ariel in the masculine. I'd contend that Shakespeare's Ariel, as an inhuman being of ambiguous form, transcends gender. It's not unusual to find women cast in Ariel's role in modern stage productions of Shakespeare's play.

In Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser novels, Ariel is recast as the "body servant" of the wererat Lady Hisvet. There's a titillating scene (in Swords of Lankhmar, I think) where Ariel pleasures The Gray Mouser as Hisvet whispers naughty nothings in his ear, claiming a "demoiselle of Lankhmar" (i.e. Hisvet) is too refined and delicate to directly engage in such loveplay. In this story, Ariel retains much of her manner (if not her dignity) from The Tempest.

'Ariel' is also the name of the BBC's in-house staff magazine (although, oddly, it's also available to the general public); it's published every Tuesday morning and, as you might expect, it's mostly very, very dull, reading like the kind of free pamphlet the local government or transport system might hand out (Londoners who commute will probably have read the page of 'The Metro' which is written by London Underground - it's the same thing, really).

The exception is the letters page, which is usually filled with bitchy letters from employees fed up with the BBC (most famously Terry Wogan, who seems to send in rants directed at the lack of change / superfluity of change / whatever takes his fancy).

Here is a real letter from May the 15th, 2002, as an example of the insane fury unleashed over this page:

Fobbed Off
About ten years ago I purchased a recoil ski pass holder for my ski pass. It has served me well and is now used as my dongle/fob carrier. Why then, in these days of cutting the crap, have I had to replace by BBC yo-yo/skipass/id on a string? The last one survived approximately five hours before it broke, prompting me to put fingers to keyboard. Can we not spend a few pennies more and get decent ones?
Kevin White
Senior physical network manager

Ariel was a horse on which Sylvia Plath was learning to ride. The experience of riding it was the basis of her poem "Ariel", written in about October 1962, and this poem gave its name to the posthumous (1965) collection Ariel, on which her fame and importance chiefly rests.

The horse is referred to only allusively in the 31-line poem, as the arc of a neck she cannot catch, and a mention of Godiva, but is very present in the fierce motion and the imagery of sexual potential: both feminine and masculine (lioness, foam, arrow). She is fleeing from and to death ("suicidal, at one with the drive"), and the poem is pervaded by darkness and blood; and also by a sense of timeless or abolished space, opening with the words "Stasis in darkness / Then the substanceless blue".

The poems Plath was working on from about June 1962 to her death in February the following year are the ones her reputation rests on, including "Daddy", "Lady Lazarus", and all her preoccupation with death, Germans, Jews, mutilation, sexuality, rage, and so on. Ted Hughes collected them into a slim volume he called Ariel and they were published by Faber and Faber in 1965.

The poems in the collection are:

  1. Morning Song
  2. The Couriers
  3. Sheep in Fog
  4. The Applicant
  5. Lady Lazarus
  6. Tulips
  7. Cut
  8. Elm
  9. The Night Dances
  10. Poppies in October
  11. Berck-Plage
  12. Ariel
  13. Death & Co.
  14. Nick and the Candlestick
  15. Gulliver
  16. Getting There
  17. Medusa
  18. The Moon and the Yew Tree
  19. A Birthday Present
  20. Letter in November
  21. The Rival
  22. Daddy
  23. You're
  24. Fever 103º
  25. The Bee Meeting
  26. The Arrival of the Bee Box
  27. Stings
  28. Wintering
  29. The Hanging Man
  30. Little Fugue
  31. Years
  32. The Munich Mannequins
  33. Totem
  34. Paralytic
  35. Balloons
  36. Poppies in July
  37. Kindness
  38. Contusion
  39. Edge
  40. Words

N.B. Hardlinks in the above are for cross-reference only. None of the poem texts should exist on E2, as that would be copyright violation.

Ariel (also Arael, Ariael) : Angel whose name means "lion of God." Ariel appears in biblical, apocryphal, Gnostic, Coptic and occult literature in a variety of guises, both angel and demon.

The apocryphal book of Ezra calls Ariel an angel. In the Old Testament, the book of Isiah refers to Ariel as an altar, man and city. This was echoed by the Renaissance occultist Henry Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, who referred to Ariel as a demon, angel or city. In Hebrew lore, Ariel is a name for Jerusalem, and in kabbalistic lore it is the name of a virtue. Ariel is ranked among the seven princes by Thomas Heywood in The Hierarchy of the Blessed Angels. In the Coptic Pistis Sophia, Ariel rules the lower world, and in Gnosticism he is associated with the creator god Ialdabaoth. In ceremonial magical texts, Ariel is described as a lion-headed angel.

Shakespeare named a fairy Ariel in The Tempest. Ariel also figures in Gaelic prayers of protection for the home and earth.
source for additional reading/information:

Davidson, Gustav. A Dictionary of Angels. New York: The Free Press, 1967.

Ariel is a short novel by Grace Tiffany, published in 2005 The novel is a retelling of William Shakespear's play The Tempest. Grace Tiffany is an academic Shakespeare scholar that has also written two popular books about Shakespeare and his works. The novel is nominally for the young adult market, but the subject matter and sophistication are quite adult.
The book is called Ariel because it centers on this spirit, who was only a supporting character in the original play. The book describes how she meets the other characters in the play and manipulates them into a conflict that is not quite the one described in the play. All of this is formed because, as the first sentence of the book states:

The first thing you should know about Ariel is that she's a liar.
Ariel is not a malicious liar, so much as that she does not know the difference between stories and reality. She is formed from the dying thoughts of an early church apostle, blown off course and eventually staggering onto a Caribbean beach. All of the dreams in his head turn into this new entity, Ariel. Over the next few hundred years, she lives a life of fancy until she meets the next occupants of the island: Sycorax, the English slave of viking raiders who is pregnant with a child. Ariel, a creature of fancy, doesn't understand the nature of pregnancy, or the suffering that goes along with it, and is unable to help Sycorax in her difficult labor. Later on, Ariel manipulates Caliban into killing his mother, an act he suddenly regrets. When Prospero and Miranda arrive, Ariel uses her powers of illusion to set Prospero against Caliban. When the rest of Prospero's family arrives, Ariel creates more struggle and conflict with them. In the book, it turns out that neither Prospero nor his brother were ever dukes: they were just successful farmers. Eventually, the illusions are seen through, and people leave the island, with some of the relationships different than in the play. The plot of the book is only sketched out here, for a full explanation, the book and the original play should be read.

There are several things that make this book interesting. The first is the obvious retelling of the story away from some of the colonialism of the original. Caliban is not a savage, nor does he assault Miranda. Instead, he is merely cast in that role by Ariel, for the sake of causing problems. Instead, Caliban is Miranda's best and only friend, and ends up romantically involved with her, despite Ariel's attempt to make Miranda love the weak, ineffectual Ferdinand. Apart from just colonialism, the book messes with the entire dramatic convention of things reaching a neat and tidy ending. That dramas follow predictable patterns is only believed by Ariel, who does not understand how human events really happen. This for me, is the real thrust of the novel: whether having dreams, even fulfilled dreams, is ever as good as having realities. There is several ways to parse this. One that occurred to me after realizing that this was a young adult book is that Ariel is the prototypical teenage girl who lives for drama, conflict and rivalry, even when she doesn't really know what it means. In that way, the message may be more immediately obvious to its intended audience than it was to me. Another possible interpretation is that Grace Tiffany is taking the reference to Ariel in a meaning more original than Shakespeare took it: as a reference to the gnostic angel of illusion and deception, Ariel. Given the first sentence of the book, it seems like a likely enough interpretation.

Of course, none of these interpretations should be taken as the point of the book. As is the case with the play of Shakespeare himself, people often forget that these things are just wonderful stories.

A"ri*el (&?;), n., or A"ri*el ga*zelle" (&?;). [Ar. aryil, ayyil, stag.] (Zoöl.)


A variety of the gazelle (Antilope, or Gazella, dorcas), found in Arabia and adjacent countries.


A squirrel-like Australian marsupial, a species of Petaurus.


A beautiful Brazilian toucan Ramphastos ariel).


© Webster 1913

A"ri*el (?), n. [Heb. ariël, perh. confused with E. aërial.]

In the Cabala, a water spirit; in later folklore, a light and graceful spirit of the air.

⇒ In zoölogy, ariel is used adjectively of certain birds noted for their graceful flight; as, the ariel toucan; the ariel petrel.


© Webster 1913

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