The evolution of the Disney princess

28 Jun

Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I saw Pixar’s latest offering, Brave. Like every other movie created by Pixar, it is a well done, cute story. It underscores the importance of family, no matter how dysfunctional it may be. One of the lessons the movie teaches is that a family and a clan must stand together to defeat the enemy.


The movie also illustrates the evolution of the Disney princess. That lesson is far more subtle than the one about family.


In the early years of Disney movies, the princess needed a prince to come to her rescue. Snow White, Aurora, and Cinderella all needed Prince Charming to come to their aid.



In the middle years, the princess saved the prince. Pocahontas saved John Smith, Ariel saved Eric, Belle saved the Beast, and Mulan saved the empire of China.



Today, Merida, the heroine of Brave, saves herself. When the first born sons of the neighboring clans vie in an archery contest for her hand in marriage, Merida says that she will shoot for her own hand. Rather than depend on a man for future happiness, she will take her fate into her own hands. In the end, her mother is swayed to Merida’s way of thinking and even helps her express her belief that each of us should be free to choose our own destiny.

The Disney Princesses have gone from dependent to independent, from relying on a man to relying on themselves. An interesting cultural shift.

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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Culture, Movies


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