The Natatorium

An emporium of oddities from around the world, complete with somewhat informative plaques that almost never match the item they are meant to be describing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Fathers Raise Princesses...

Last night, as I was brushing my teeth, something struck me out of the blue. In all the most famous Disney fairy tale cartoons, the heroine is motherless and has a special relationship with her father. It's true, go back and look. In all the classic Disney cartoons from the Disney heyday (which happened to have been when I was at the prime princess-cartoon-watching age), the heroine, who is usually a princess, is motherless. In the Little Mermaid, Ariel has no mother, and though she has many older sisters, they are never shown interacting with her in a motherly way, or bestowing any feminine advice. In the Beauty and the Beast, Belle is also motherless and is so devoted to her father that she risks her life for him at least 3 times. Jasmine in Aladdin and Pocahontas follow the same pattern, and while Mulan has a mother *and* grandmother living with her, she obviously has a closer relationship to her father than either one of them. Why is this? Is there something about a mother figure that is detrimental or problematic to the standard formulaic Disney plot? Does the absense of a mother make psychological sense to the effect of creating the personality type often found in the Disney heroines? Furthermore, why is the absent mother never even mentioned? It is presumed that she is dead; in fact, I always assumed that the mother had died in childbirth, since the heroine never seems to remember her at all. I am glad that the films always show a close, loving, and healthy relationship between the father and daughter, but it seems impossible that so many single parent families are just a coincidence. Does Disney do it for a reason? But then again, most of the old Disney movies are adapted from folk and fairy tales, so perhaps I should be asking why so many folk tales leave out the mom. Does a motherless girl just make a good story, or was the mother there all along and simply never mentioned? Perhaps the absence of a mother emphasizes that the heroine is self-reliant, but then again, if this is true, why does the handsome prince always have to rescue her? This is quite a conundrum. Perhaps you can help.


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