- Category: Volume 86 (Fall 2014 - Spring 2015)
- Published: 11 February 2015
Glass slippers, fairy godmothers, magic carpets, finding true love, and of course, happy endings are what fairy tales are all about, but is this the only element of Disney movies? Many see Disney films as “just a fairy tale” and “impossible” but what if there is a deeper meaning to Disney princess stories? What if Disney princesses inspire those watching them?
To begin, Cinderella, as everyone knows, is about a young girl who loses her father at a young age and ends up being forced to live with her stepfamily. Her stepmother and stepsisters are very unloving, bossy, and cold hearted. Cinderella is treated very unfairly, being forced to do her stepfamily’s laundry, cooking, cleaning, and all of their other chores. One of the many lessons from Disney’s Cinderella is to choose to remain kind and thoughtful. Instead of returning evil with evil, Cinderella chooses to be kind and thoughtful, even with the way she was being treated. Cinderella teaches viewers to remain acting kind and appropriately even if one is surrounded by evil and unfair behavior.
Another lesson that can be taught by Disney’s Cinderella is to never give up and to hold onto your hope and dreams. Cinderella was forced to grow up in poverty while her stepfamily lived in riches. This story teaches viewers to enjoy the simple things in life. Cinderella never gave up hope and always had an optimistic attitude; Cinderella got her happy ending by holding onto hope. This teaches viewers that if you set your mind to something and never give up, one can achieve their goals and have their own happy ending.
Aladdin tells the story of a young princess, Jasmine, who is being forced to get married by the age of sixteen. Jasmine only has a few days left to find a suitor to marry. She feels this is unfair and decides to run away. Jasmine is a wonderful role model for viewers. Jasmine knows she deserves to be treated equally. She does not let anyone push her around and she wants to decide her own fate and future. She wants to be herself and wants to decide for herself. Jasmine teaches viewers to stand up for themselves, to believe in oneself, and that everyone deserves to be treated equally.
Beauty and the Beast is another classic Disney movie that teaches viewers a few life lessons. Belle is forced to live with the hideous beast in his castle in order for her father to be free. The first life lesson to be taught by Belle is to put others before yourself. Belle gives up her entire life in order for her father to be freed from the Beast. Belle does not want to see her father suffer and would rather herself be trapped if it means her father is free. Belle teaches viewers to not be selfish and to put other before yourself.
Another life lesson from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is to look beyond what you can see. Belle teaches viewers that it’s on the inside that really counts. On the outside, Beast is hideous, intimidating, mean, and scary, but once Belle gives him a chance and takes the time to get to know the true Beast, she sees his inner beauty. Belle sees that Beast is really kind and gentle. Belle shows the audience that if one looks past the outside, one can find someone’s inner beauty. It is not what’s on the outside. but what’s on the inside that truly matters.
In 1989, The Walt Disney Studios released The Little Mermaid and thus, introduced one of the most beloved princesses to the world. The 16-year-old princess Ariel is the youngest daughter of King Triton, ruler of the seven seas. She disobeys her father, goes to a foreign land with nothing to help her get by, and eventually abandons her entire family for her “true love.” While it may seem like she would be an unlikely role model, she embodies many noble characteristics that everyone should posses. Ariel has no fear and leaves the only world she knows for a world full of adventure. She has courage and follows what she believes is best, no matter the consequences.
A lesson learned from Ariel is to be open to new ideas. Ariel’s seagull friend, Scuttle, believes he knows how every human object is used. For example, what he refers to as a “dinglehopper” is really just a common household fork. Scuttle says the object is to fashion one’s hair, something we all know is not true. Upon Ariel’s arrival at Prince Eric’s palace, she is taught that the object is actually used to eat food. If Ariel was closed minded, she probably would have refused to eat the food with the object and instead, use it as a brush.
Last but not least, Disney’s Tangled takes us into the life of Rapunzel, who has been trapped in a tower for 18 years under Mother Gothel. Mother Gothel tells Rapunzel all types of crazy stories about what life is like outside of the tower. She convinces Rapunzel that she must remain in the tower for the rest of her life in order to stay safe. Mother Gothel leaves Rapunzel in the tower alone. Now was the chance for Rapunzel to sneak away from the tower to see the floating lanterns that she’s always dreamed of seeing. Rapunzel was terrified to leave the tower thanks to Mother Gothel’s stories, but she overcame her fears and followed her dreams. Rapunzel left the tower and it was the best thing she could have done. Not only did she finally get to see the floating lanterns, but she found her real parents and found true love along the way. Rapunzel teaches viewers to follow your heart and to overcome your fears.
These are just a few of the life lessons found in Disney princess movies. Although fairy tales seem only to be about finding true love and having happy endings, there is much more to it. The Disney princess stories have several life lessons throughout them that can teach an audience much more than just how to have a happy ending. Follow your heart, hold onto home, don’t give up and believe in yourself are all life lessons taught to us by the Disney princesses. In the words of Cinderella, “A dream is a wish that you make with your heart,” so dream on.