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At the end of the movie Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides,

Phillip is badly wounded and seems to be telling Syrena not to heal him but only to forgive him. She then drags him into the water and we never see him again.

Am I meant to assume he's dead now? Or was there some symbolic meaning to this gesture that I didn't catch?

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2 Answers

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I have no real answer for this, because I don't recall the movie clearing that up. But to me it looked like this.
Phillip thinks himself unworthy and only asks for her forgiveness, not for life, because he is that kind of humble. Unlike Blackbeard who wanted to sacrifice his daughter for his own life.

Syrena however tells him again to just ask. In my opinion, it's no really clear if she means for him to ask for forgiveness or if she refers to her earlier statement, that he only need to ask to be saved. He then asks for forgiveness bevor she takes him with her.
I thought this meant that she wanted to do more than simply forgive him. That she wanted to save him and be with him.
In some stories mermaids can grant the ability to breathe and thus live under water too.
So I thought she took him into the sea to be with him happily ever after. Because she did not seem sad when she took him down.
In this he would be a counterpart to Blackbeard, finding happiness in the end because he was selfless. Again unlike Blackbeard, who died beeing selfish.

Also, why would she take him with her, if she wanted to let him die? She could have just left him there. Unless for some reason she wanted him to have a watery grave. But I don't see why she would want that.

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Is that what she was saying? I thought that line meant "If you want forgiveness, you need only ask". And, er, I kind of thought maybe she, ah, wanted a baby as a souvenir, given the stories we heard earlier? But your answer seems a lot more like a moral Disney would support so... –  Yamikuronue Nov 27 '12 at 15:42
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@Yamikuronue I just rewatched the scene and you're right. She is not saying anything about saving him, but simply says 'ask'. That could mean for forgivness, like he does. But I still think she means more than that. In the end, it has most likely been kept vague so to leave it open for the viewer to decide what really happens to him. I will edit my answer accordingly. –  Sebastian_H Nov 27 '12 at 22:22
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Hm. Apparently, from things that I have read and watched, a mermaids kiss can grant air to breath underwater for a short period of time. If you look clearly at the scene when she pulls him into the water you see them swimming down, though she is actually taking him through a ring of light and thus she is not heading down further into the ocean because it would be darker. Therefore she was heading to land supposingly. Just like when she suddenly disappeared before and resurfaced to aid Captain Jack with the Chalices. She did not wish to kill him, I would not think so anyway. :) I hope I cleared some things up for you.

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