The Evolution of a Princess: What Prince?

by Amy on June 30, 2012 · 2 comments

The Prince Rescues the Princess

I was around my five-year-old niece’s age when I met my first Disney princesses onscreen in the grand princess trilogy of Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.  I watched with bated breath as the handsome prince saved his princess each time, twice with a kiss powerful enough to rouse her from death or a long snooze, and once with a perfectly fitted shoe.  (What girl doesn’t desire a great pair of glass slippers?)  Because Disney told me so, I grew up convinced my destiny was to be rescued by a prince.  Never one to really need rescuing, though, I made it challenging for would-be princes to fulfill this destiny.

The Princess Rescues the Prince

Fifteen years later Disney rolled out a new-style princess, in the form of a little mermaid named Ariel and a Beauty who sagely bypasses the hot jerk and falls for a Beast with a good soul buried beneath his roar.  These princesses kicked princess ass, Ariel saving Prince Eric from near drowning and Belle rescuing the Beast from an eternity of ugly — once again with the power of a smooch.  (We might want to study this phenomenon — perhaps kisses can cure diseases, halt wars, prevent famine.)  In the end, though, the message was still the same: Happy ending = prince.  (Did you see bookworm Belle go off to college and get a Master’s Degree in English Literature?  Me, either.)

The Princess Does Her Own Thing

Last week said five-year-old niece sat next to me at the new Disney Pixar movie Brave.  Toward the end of the movie (SPOILER ALERT!), this former dark prince/now scary bear gets crushed by a falling tower of stone.  My niece cried, “But that’s the prince!”  Apparently Disney didn’t care, because the dark prince floats off into the sky, playing only a minor role in this fairy tale.  Princes, in fact, don’t factor much into the story of Princess Merida, a fiery red-headed free spirit who’d rather fly through the forest on her horse shooting arrows with her bow than pick a prince from the three sub-par choices presented to her (one too cocky, one too stupid, and the other too nerdy).  In the end, she doesn’t have to settle, and she doesn’t choose a prince at all, instead choosing adventure and whatever destiny awaits — prince or no.

Funny how my niece still wanted a prince to be the happy ending to Merida’s story, though.  I admit, with my proper Disney grooming, I was waiting for one of the sub-par prince options to suddenly reveal he had a great personality and was Merida’s perfect match.  Instead, the fairy tale ends with Merida flying off into the woods on her horse in search of her destiny.  The message, as Merida narrates for us over the final scene: “Our fate lives within us…you only have to be brave enough to see.”  Prince?  What prince?  Merida was brave enough to do her own thing, and who knows if a prince would ever be part of it?

I think I like this latest Disney princess the best.  A prince doesn’t have to be part of the story.  If he happens to come along for the ride into happily ever after, how nice, but he’d better be able to keep up.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Marge Everhart June 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm

How time changes our actions and reactions. Cheers to the free spirits!

Karen McNatt November 17, 2012 at 9:02 pm

My husband has great song on his new record, “All the Good Ones Aren’t Gone”…… Great song you should check it out. He will send you a record if you like it.
Karen Mcnatt

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