Disney Princesses: Then and Now

For my history of animation class, we were given an assignment to explain the difference between the “older” princesses, such as; Snow White and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), to the “newer” princesses, such as; Rapunzel (Tangled) and Elsa (Frozen). Why does this matter? Well, animation was not only known for entertainment, but for portraying the era when the film was made. Many people may not realize how different the Disney princesses were back then compared to know. Besides the difference in appearances and the advancement of the illustration, Disney princesses have changed significantly in personality and characteristics.

Snow White and Sleeping Beauty were films that were released during a time, where women were viewed as damsel in distress. It was believed that they needed a man to “live”. Woman were also known to just be good at cooking and cleaning. For example, Snow White was not shown doing anything but wandering around, cooking, and cleaning. Also, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty had similar endings. Since Aurora, from Sleeping Beauty, was cursed with a spell at birth to touch the spindle, she went into a long sleep that could only be disturbed by true love’s kiss. In Snow White, she bit a poison apple that put her in a long sleep, again, that could only be disturbed by true love’s kiss. Young girls and women who watched these films, during the time of their release, were probably brainwashed with the idea that they need a “prince charming”. The idea of looking for their “true love’s kiss” was believed to be goal for young girls. Although it seems like a cute fairy tale, it’s still gives a negative message to girls of any age. Woman should be portrayed as strong, individuals, as well as being “equals”, not just an ignorant and innocent being.

Tangled and Frozen showed that strength and individuality in their princesses. The princesses from the newer films are way different from Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. For instance, Tangled included a princess who was talented, brave, courageous, and learned how to be independent. Yes, she had her step mother, but Mother Gothel was not always in the picture. For the most part, Rapunzel was by herself and stuck in a tower; but she made the most of it. Rapunzel taught herself how to paint, cook, knit, play chess, and learned about astrology, as well as reading a lot. She made use of her time, and not just waiting for her “prince charming” to come. Same goes for Frozen. Frozen focuses on two princesses, Anna and Elsa, who are sisters. The main thing that separates Frozen from Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, was the fact that the film emphasized sister love. That the love for your sister (or family) is greater than any guy, especially a guy like Hans. Although it showed Anna being blinded by her love for Hans and then realized that he was a scheming villain, it showed that love still prevails, even if it’s the love of your sister. Young girls and women who watched Frozen and Tangled should have received a better message, than Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Girls of all ages can get the sense of being independent, taking a chance, being courageous, as well as understanding that you do not need a man to live your life.

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