The Study of the Development of Androgynous Gender Role Portrayals from Stereotypical of Disney Princesses in the Original Disney Princess Films Franchise
An undergraduate thesis presented to the
Department of Communication and Media Studies
Faculty of Arts and Letters
University of Santo Tomas
In partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree
Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts
Morales, Sarita Joy
Yu, Zidney Marielle
People today are aware of the several princess films being launched by Disney and Pixar productions. However, most of them do not know that these Disney Princess films represent what society regards women. Since there is a rising popularity of the Disney princess franchise in our society nowadays, the researchers decided to use these industries’ films to determine the development of androgynous gender role portrayals from stereotypical of the Disney Princesses in the original Disney Princess films franchise. The readers of this research study would gain an overview of how gender roles are portrayed in Disney Princess films.
In order to gather information needed for the study, the researchers viewed each Disney princess movie and noted the physical attributes and personality of each princess. A total of thirteen Disney Princess films were chosen. These movies were selected because they are part of the original Disney Princess franchise. Reviews and studies were also used to gather the necessary information. With this method, the pair were able to see the development of gender role portrayal of the Disney Princesses from stereotypical to the androgynous princesses.
The results gathered showed that there were several differences between the characteristics of the princess from the first Disney Princess film up to the latest. Moreover, findings on how Disney portrayed women and how it evolved were also included in this study.
Keywords: Androgynous, stereotypical, Disney Princesses, gender role portrayals
Foremost, we would like to thank God for granting us wisdom and strength to finish our study successfully. We would also like to thank for His guidance throughout our research and for giving us the capabilities that we need for this research paper. He made us feel motivated and gave us hope in accomplishing the study well.
The researchers would like to extend our appreciation to the following people for their invaluable help and support.
To our fellow fourth year students who shared their time and effort in helping and supporting us.
To our parents who gave us love and encouragement in pursuing this study, for their support both emotionally and financially throughout the research project.
To Ms. Anna Cielo Perez, M.A. for guiding and teaching us about research. We would not be able to begin this paper without you.
Last but definitely not the least, we would like to thank Mr. Bien, our thesis adviser, for being patient and understanding in answering our countless questions. For his support and guidance in giving us valuable insights and numerous advice throughout the course of our study. Indeed, without him, we could not have accomplished this complicated task.
Table of Contents
Background of the Study
In 1937, Walt Disney created the very first feature-length animated film from USA, a Disney princess film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, wherein a beautiful girl lived in the house of seven dwarves to hide from her stepmother, the evil Queen. This movie was their debut of emphasizing their movies on princesses.
The first three Disney Princess films have emerged in the film industry and have become successful. These films were made from the 1930s to 1950s. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) contained a story wherein a wicked stepmom, the Queen, who is jealous because she wanted to be “the fairest in the land” but instead her Magic Mirror shows Snow White’s face. The story contained the seven dwarves, who had comedic characteristics, a handsome prince who saved the day and an innocent princess, who was considered the fairest in the land. The storyline ends with the princess being saved by a man. After this film, it took years for Disney to create another princess movie in 1950 with Cinderella, wherein the main character, Cinderella, is being oppressed by her antagonists and is saved by the prince in the end. In 1959, Disney released another film, The Sleeping Beauty wherein the main character, Princess Aurora, was cursed by an evil fairy on her sixteenth birthday. The story follows the same pattern where the protagonist is kind yet helpless and, in the end, is saved by the prince with true love’s kiss. These movies have personified a traditional female stereotype during this period.
As the time passed, the storyline of Disney Princess films evolved, from the personality of the main characters to its plots and content. In 1989, The Little Mermaid was released. This focused on Ariel, a mermaid and the princess of the sea, who wanted to be human for a prince. She went out of her way and broke the rules of her father and of the kingdom, to be with the one she loves. After this, Beauty and the Beast was released in 1991 and Aladdin in 1992. The Disney animated films in this era had a different portrayal of women. The films portrayed women that were out of the norms of the society, yet in the end, they were still dependent on a man because the princesses were saved by a man or a prince. Disney changed the pattern when they made the princesses question the social norms and when they became more adventurous than the first three princesses.
A new transition occurred when the princesses became warriors in their own stories. Warrior princesses are those that unleashed their independence instead of relying on a man to save them. In 1995, Pocahontas was released, a story of a princess of her own tribe who chose to save her people, and not depending on a guy. John Smith was her counterpart and wanted something different from what Pocahontas’ people are saying. This was followed by another animated Disney princess movie in 1998, Mulan. Mulan disguised herself as a man to become a soldier of their country to be able to save her sick father. She managed to be as tough and as independent as a man that she had to sacrifice her feminine personalities. At the end of the story, she was the one who was able to save her country. In this era, the princesses chose to be who they are and had to fight for what they stand for, which made them even stronger than the previous princesses.
Tiana was one the ground-breaking characters in Disney history for she was the first African-American princess in Disney history. She also wasn’t looking for a relationship. Her character’s ambition is to have her own restaurant. She portrayed a woman who works hard for her future and dreams but instead becomes a frog in the story. This movie, The Princess and the Frog, was released in 2009. As the progress in portraying different women in different eras continued, the women portrayed changed into princesses that are more ambitious. Tangled then followed in 2010, wherein Rapunzel, the lost princess of their kingdom, was ambitious and wanted to see the outside world. In 2012, Merida from Brave emerged in the film industry and had a different storyline. She was a princess who didn’t want to be a princess and instead, wanted to be an archer. She was also the first non-Disney character to be called a Disney princess as Brave was a Pixar movie. Frozen was released in 2014. The film was a successful global hit. Disney made a difference in this movie since the protagonist, Anna, saved her sister, Elsa. It can be noted that this is a distinction compared to other Disney Princess films. It is clear that the princesses or the main characters have shown independence, a heart of a warrior, display different cultures, and go out of society’s norms.
One most recent animated Disney film, Moana, was created and released in 2016 and spoke the story of a young navigator who is destined to be the future female chief of their Polynesian tribe. However, Moana sailed out to prove herself as a master way finder to fulfill the unfinished quest of her ancestors together with Maui, a demigod who stole the heart of Te Fiti which caused the plague in the Pacific Islands. The two teamed up in an adventure to save their people and the islands. The story concluded with Moana as the heroine of her own story.
The Disney animated films were released in different years and portrayed varied characteristics of women. In this study, the researchers would determine the difference in the gender roles portrayed by the leading characters of the Disney Princess films. Since these movies have female characters as their main protagonists, it is given that they would portray the gender roles of women in different ways whether stereotypically or androgynously. As a matter of fact, there are studies that depict the stereotypes that portray women in different perspectives and these studies are what the researchers found in order to support this paper.
Statement of the Problem
This study intended to determine the depiction and development of the gender roles of Disney Princess of selected Disney animated films. The following are supporting problems that would assist the researchers in making a more profound study on the said topic.
?How do the animated Disney Princess films contribute to the development of female characters of Disney princesses?
?What are the feminine characteristics displayed by the Disney princesses?
?What are the masculine characteristics displayed by the Disney princesses?
?What are the development of the gender role portrayals of the Disney princesses in the animated Disney princess films? Do the Disney Princesses display gender roles stereotypically or androgynously?
Statement of Objectives
This research aimed to identify how Disney princess films portray the gender roles of Disney princess in their respective films. The researchers would study how these films contributed to the development of female characters of Disney princesses. They would analyze the evolution of the Disney princesses and observe the changes in the gender role portrayal over the years. This will also emphasize the evolution seen in the characteristics and personalities of the Disney Princesses. Moreover, the study intended to clarify the stereotypes in portraying the gender roles of the princesses or the protagonists in the movies of Disney. They would evaluate whether the Disney princesses display gender roles stereotypically or androgynously. Furthermore, the researchers would note the formulaic or feminine descriptions and masculine characteristics of the Disney princesses to understand how Disney depicts the gender roles of women. They aimed to find the formula on how the Disney princesses are becoming androgynous. The researchers would distinguish the development of the depiction of the gender roles of the Disney princesses in their respective movies. Through this study, the pair would contribute insights to help Disney filmmakers, writers, and their firm in improving their method and style in portraying Disney princesses. Additionally, this study would allow the audiences to be aware of the possible effects of watching Disney films as many of them are heavy viewers and are unaware of their potential consequences.
Significance of the Study
Majority of the audiences may not realize how things are affecting the way they live especially with heavy viewers who just receive what they are given. With this, the researchers believed that this study is important to help the readers and viewers increase their awareness on how Disney portrays the gender roles of their princesses. This is also significant to help the readers in understanding the role of Disney princesses in our daily lives, not only limiting it to the depiction of gender roles.
This study would create significant contributions to the following:
(1) Current and future students of the University of Santo Tomas. This research aimed to benefit the students primarily because this study on the field of films, especially on the topic of production, can educate the students who are interested in pursuing this field of work. The results of the study would also give the students a better understanding of how films and one’s view of gender roles could be interrelated.
(2) Current and future filmmakers. The findings of the study would contribute to their current knowledge and would give them an idea in terms of creating a character in their future films which can make a better impact to its viewers, especially where their audience could either be heavy or light viewers.
(3) Feminist study. Since feminism is the advocacy on women’s rights on the basis of equality of sexes, this study would aid in informing feminist about the way Disney depicts the gender roles of their characters. The information would help their studies since they would understand the possible consequences brought by these films as they are normally seen by young viewers.
(4) Current and Future Creative Writers. The study would not only assist in improving the princess formula but also help in crafting better and unpredictable plot for future stories.
(5) Ordinary reader. With this research, even ordinary people would have an idea of the development of the Disney princesses and how it might affect their life as Disney plays a part in a child’s upbringing.
In line with this study, the researchers would also benefit since they were given the opportunity to explore and conduct a study on a topic that is popular but is not usually studied. Moreover, this is a good chance to apply the lessons they have learned from their Communication theories subject.
Scope and Limitations
Given that there were several studies about the portrayals of the gender roles of Disney princess in Disney films, the researchers chose to do the same, however, with the addition of the newest Disney princess, Moana.
With the wide range of choices of Disney princess movies such as some live-action films such as The Princess Diaries (2001) and Enchanted (2007), the pair chose to limit the study to purely animated Disney princess movies due to the fact that they wanted to have a more focused research. Even though the live action films The Princess Diaries (2001) and Enchanted (2007) have princesses such as Princess Mia and Princess Giselle respectively, they are, however, not included in the princess franchise of Disney. Therefore, the live-action films such as these are not included in the study. The term Disney princess is not defined as the daughter of a monarch or wife of a prince but rather is defined as being part of the princess franchise of Disney. In terms of deciding which animated Disney princess movies to include, the pair decided to choose the original Disney princess films. Therefore, sequels and series after the original films would not be included in the study. Thus, a Disney series revolving around princesses such as Sofia the First and Elena of Avalor are also not included. The researchers chose to narrow down the topic to these animated Disney princess films in order to concentrate and to conduct a more focused analysis on the gender role portrayals of the Disney princesses of the chosen movies.
The researchers were also aware of the different variety forms of the Disney princesses’ brand, which are merchandises, costumes, songs, and others. In order to come up with a feasible research study, the pair decided to focus only on films given that this is what most people are familiar with and what is in line with the researchers’ course. In addition, the pair was also aware of the different representations of the characters in Disney films such as race, older men and women, and others. For that reason, the researchers decided to narrow down the study to gender role portrayals of women specifically the female protagonist of the animated Disney princess films. Furthermore, this study did not cover the effects of the gender role portrayals of Disney princess films. Although the researchers are aware of the possible effects of watching Disney movies, they chose not to include this in their study as it is difficult to define effects. It could be in terms of psychology, behavior, and others. This study is strictly an observation of the gender role portrayal of the Disney princesses. Therefore, exploring the factors that are affecting the creation and development of the Disney princesses is not included.
This study included the different articles and studies conducted by other researchers about the gender role portrayal of Disney princess films. The pair believed that by discussing these, it would give the readers better understanding of the depiction of the Disney princesses. In fact, these pieces of information will eventually enhance the basic knowledge needed in order to understand fully the research being studied as other Disney princess films were not covered in the study. The researchers only utilized Eagly’ Social Role theory, Cultivation theory, Social Constructionism theory, and the Gender Schema theory. Although the pair acknowledged that there are other several communication theories, they decided to use these approaches because these theories are connected to the study.
Review of Related Literature
England, Descartes, and Collier-Meek (2011), authors from Sex Roles, examined gender roles portrayed in Disney Princess films and the gendered nature of the rescues to test their three hypotheses. The researchers used a coded content analysis to classify each quality portrayed by the characters. Their objective is to understand the gendered content better in the Disney Princess movies and to discuss the possible benefit of the information acquired. The first hypothesis expected that the gender role portrayal of the prince and princess would differ. This was strongly supported when they found that the prince and princess’ gender roles vary greatly. The second hypothesis focused on the number of rescues the prince would do and the number of times the princess would be saved. This hypothesis was also proven when their findings showed that the prince evidently demonstrated more rescues and the princesses were saved more. Furthermore, the third hypothesis emphasized the changes of the films over time. Specifically, they predicted that there would be an increase in androgyny among the characters. They found this compatible with the results of their analysis. The authors recommended that future researchers would study how children interpret this information since their study focused only on the gender role portrayals in the Disney films.
Lang (2016), a Senior film and Media editor, has written in his article that the latest Disney is based on a strong female protagonist. His article emphasized the more assertive and more empowered women of the society. It has represented the modern women at the present. Lang has mentioned how Moana was different from the previous Disney princesses. He believes that the usual roles of princesses in Disney films are dating back to where they wait for their princes save them just like the very first Disney film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In Moana’s story, it would be different. According to Lang (2016), the film does not feature a love story because her journey is about finding herself instead of a husband. Just like the recent films of Disney, Moana is one of the films where its nature is focused on women who, according to Brent, are assertive, emancipated and the equal to any man. This film became one of the progressive films Disney has released. In his article, he has mentioned the stereotypes from the recent movies, Star Wars, and Black Panther. The film was contrasted with the other animated films such as Zootopia, Frozen, and Brave where women are the heroines of their stories, which showed a stronger character on the women’s point of view. The article emphasized the strength of a woman despite the stereotypes defined by them.
Griffin, Harding, and Learmonth (2016), professors from different Universities in US, have criticized the film, Moana, according to how women are being portrayed in the film. In the study, the authors differentiated the different films coming from different generations. They sorted out what kind of stereotypes are given to women depending on what era or transition these films belong to. The old films were mentioned in the articles and they also defined the portrayal of the different women in these Disney Princess films. The differences between the stories from the first film and the recent film were shown and presented by the study. Their study wanted its readers to have a further understanding of the differences of the movies from then and now. The first set of films that were mentioned were Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella where the content or the message of the films were all clear, that women are weak and should avoid work at all cost. The women in these films need to be protected and only a prince could save them. In the next set of films that were mentioned, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Tarzan, the women were all independent however they have found ultimate happiness in the arms of a man. The next set which was completely different from the independence aforementioned, as the Disney film had its Renaissance period, Pocahontas and Mulan came, in the story, they have become the heroines instead of a prince or a man. In the same way with The Princess and the Frog, Tiana’s dream is to have her own restaurant and not to be with a man. Frozen was another film where women were not saved by a man but instead they were saved by each other. Moana showed the independence of women and how they are empowered. She discovered herself, her talents, and her duties. According to the authors, she is the epitome of a modern working woman. The buildup of the movies as the story, and the characters being portrayed by women changes, the women represent complex, multifaceted, and intriguing character roles.
Lopreore (2016) used qualitative methods in analyzing the content of the modern Disney Princess films to test her three hypotheses. The student used the films Tangled (2010), Brave (2012), and Frozen (2013) to complete her thesis. She trained and guided three adult participant coders who are familiar with past and present Disney films to help her collect data. Her first hypothesis was supported when they found that the Modern princes and princesses greatly differ from their Classic and Renaissance counterparts. The second hypothesis was proven when they found out that the princes and princesses of the Modern era didn’t differ greatly in their gender role portrayal. The third hypothesis predicted that each Modern prince and princess would display androgynous gender role portrayals. The results revealed that the number of masculine characteristics was not significantly different when compared to the number of feminine features observed in each character. Although the author concluded that the recent Disney Princess films demonstrate androgynous gender role characteristics, she strongly recommended the modification of the coded checklist as future researchers continue to monitor gender role portrayals in future Disney films.
Yerby, Baron, and Lee (n.d.), students who collaborated online, used Disney animations to test their hypothesis. They stated that female characters are demonstrated as the weaker sex or they display female stereotypes. With the objective of completing their requirements, the researchers used content analysis methods to observe the differences of the characteristics of the male and female characters in each Disney animation. This study included Disney princess films and other prominent Disney animations like The Lion King and 101 Dalmatians. It was found that most of the female characters in the animation display what the authors predicted. Although the princesses begin to display stronger personalities and characteristics with the rising of feminism throughout the years, the male characters still continued to exhibit more dominant features and thus retaining their superiority over women.
Gazda (2015) conducted a close observation of Disney princesses because she noticed her daughter’s reaction towards these characters. She stated that her daughter’s idea of male and female gender roles could stem from the way Disney portrayed their prince and princesses. Disney’s gender role portrayals could easily influence viewers, especially young girls. In her study, Gazda found out that the Disney has focused less on the genuine qualities and moralities of Disney princesses and has concentrated on finding true love. She observed that there was a necessary presence of a male figure or a prince for the princess to achieve her goals. An example of this is Snow White wishing for the one for her in a song. Although Anna, the protagonist in Frozen (2013), initially sang about opening up their kingdom and putting her lonely life to a stop, she suddenly transitions to singing about meeting the one for her. Gazda also observed that there is a vast difference in the characteristics between the prince and princesses of the story. She ended her paper with a challenge to change the design of Disney princesses so that they can be better and more relatable to young viewers.
Maity (2014), a research scholar from the Department of English of University of Burdwan, has designed a study about gender identity and the gender roles of Disney movies and to see how identity is transformed through long term virtues and ideas. The author emphasizes the stereotypical portrayal of females in Disney films. The roles of the princesses in the different stories were, as noticed, always in the representation of women was always framed in gender bias. It is stated in the article that the term “women” has become synonymous with the victim in the patriarchal society. It was mentioned that women’s place should be at home while men should be the ones to provide. It has been a concern that the portrayal of women in Disney films can be seen by its audience which can draw an image depending on the audience’s perspective. The similarities in the stories Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Little Mermaid have been analyzed further depending on the roles played by the princesses in the films. It was common in the films that the women always had to sacrifice, had to serve under the antagonist, and many more. The examples given were of concern especially for young girls who could possibly be influenced by these films. Their advertising campaigns that target young girls aim to attract a wide audience with ultimate goal of encouraging children to personally identify with the characters. It may have a big impact on the behavior of young girls who watched these films. According to the author, an expert in fairytales named Jack Zipes said that fairytales do influence the manner in which children conceive the world; however, there are people who have their own perspective in taking the stories and content of the films being produced by Disney. Sperry and Grauerholz observed that the representation of feminine beauty ideal became the socially constructed notion of physical attractiveness. Their study shows the impact on children and how they look at women through the films of Disney.
Barber (2015), from Indiana State University, made a research regarding the different shifts that happened in the Disney films as America changes in situation. Disney films changed its ways to groundbreaking ways as observed with the contents and stories of their films. The Disney films mentioned in the study were mostly stories with content that have influence to their audience. The very first shift was when Cinderella, Snow White and Aurora were created. These were the first princesses made by Disney. These princesses have portrayed the stereotypical damsel-in-distress stories. After a few years, Ariel, Mulan and Rapunzel were made. These were the rebellious and ambitious princesses which portrayed the second shift of Disney films. Last but not the least, the third shift was about princesses who were independent and free-spirited. These princesses made a big difference in the was women were previously portrayed. Instead of being saved by a prince charming, the princesses were their own saviors and become the heroine of the story. The study chose Disney films because of “its impact to the entertainment industry” (p. 23) as the study aims to let the readers and the audience of the Disney films, especially the children or the viewers of Disney. It has been looked at as gender role and how the society perceives the acceptable representation in men and women.
Collins (2011), another researcher from Sex Roles, used a wide range of media to provide a qualitative content analysis of gender roles. Her objective of is to observe the gender roles on media in general. Her first hypothesis argued that women are underrepresented across a wide range of media. Her findings showed that male representations are greater in number compared to female. Although the number of women is evidently numerous, the number of male characters outnumber them greatly. The second hypothesis stated that if women are portrayed, they are often sexualized. Collins saw that women, especially Black women, were often sexualized in music videos. Women were also belittled in various ways whether in terms of facial expressions, body positions, and other factors. Finally, the author added that women are illustrated in their stereotypical roles. Collins ended her paper with a challenge to the readers to consider the effects of how media portray women. She also recommended future researchers to deepen their study as this topic is still in a stage of infancy.
Garabedian (2014), a Graduate Teaching Assistant in James Madison University, discussed the periods that an assistant professor from the Center of Cultural Studies at the University of Southern Denmark named Charlotte Krolokke has design to define the different transitions that the Disney films went through. Her periods were Pre-Transition where Snow White, Cinderella, and The Sleeping Beauty were categorized; Transition Period where The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan, Princess and the Frog and Tangled were categorized; and the Progression Period where Brave and Frozen were categorized. The transitions aim to show the readers that the differences among the Disney princesses were portrayed and differentiated. It shows a mere explanation of how the movies differ from each other, not just the story, but the stereotypes represented by the different women in the story and how they become the heroine of their story. Charlotte has defined that the pre-transition was the period where the first wave of feminism occurred. According to Garabedian (2014), “these gender roles are visibly affirmed through the actions of each princess and show a period of Disney’s compliance with what was expected of a predominantly male centered society” (p. 23). In the second period, Disney films portrayed the effects of the second wave of feminism. According to Krolokke (2014), the second wave had “documenting sexism in private as well as public life and delivering a criticism of gendered patterns of socialization” (p. 23). In the third period, Disney did not break the princess pattern. However, when Brave and Frozen were released, they both made a big difference in their story when it comes to their happily ever after. Disney changed their formula and made an ending where Prince Charming isn’t the one saving the day, instead, the princesses in the movies were their own heroes. According to Garabedian (2014), “one reason Disney is so successful at influencing gender roles is its ability to sell products that coincide with its movies.”
Stavis (2014), a Reading Intervention specialist, made an article about the stereotypes in Disney movies. She used the movie Frozen to support her statements about the stereotypes towards women. Her article contained the differences on how the different Disney Princesses from the movies Cinderella, Mulan, and Frozen were portrayed. Through these characters, the differences are how a woman was described before and today. In Cinderella, she emphasized not only the protagonist, but also the antagonist who was her Stepmother and her stepsisters. She enumerated that the stepsisters were described as ugly from the outside is equivalent to being ugly inside. Even the stereotype of being beautiful just to catch a guy’s attention was mentioned in the article. Moreover, Mulan was released with a different kind of story where the protagonist was the one who saved the guy. Mulan disguised herself as a man to save her father and rejected the traditions where the main goal of a woman to get a man. According to Stavis, it was one of the most feminist films that was released that time. When Frozen was shown, the content, the story, and even its songs delivered its message perfectly. It has broken the stereotype of princess should be saved by a prince formula. The story made a perfect build up that it actually had a great happily ever after where her sister was the one who saved her in the end. Stavis mentioned towards the end that “The important idea isn’t whether or not Frozen is actually a feminist movie or promoting stereotypes, it’s the idea that children can be noticing how the sexes are portrayed in films and then forming (and defending) their opinion”
Do Rozario (2004), another researcher, analyzed Disney princess in terms of “her position in her kingdom, her relationships to femme fatale, fathers, and bad boys, and her performance in a genre largely shaped by film musical and fairytale” (p.34). With the objective of examining the function of Disney princesses and with the methodology of content analysis, the author observed that the princesses live in a patriarchal society while noticing the root of kingdom’s power which is mostly from male characters. Moreover, there were many examples of the relationships of femme fatale in Disney Princesses film. The villains, the Evil Queen, Cinderella’s stepmother, Maleficent, and Ursula are the femme fatale of the movies Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid respectively. The roles of femme fatale illustrated that authentic power comes from bad women. Additionally, the relationship of fathers to Disney princesses is greatly observed in The Little Mermaid where Ariel, the main protagonist of the story, is seen as Daddy’s little girl. This also added how the female protagonist goes for bad boys as Eric is seen as someone that influences the main protagonist to disobey whether he knows it or not. Finally, the researcher has detected that although musicals’ initial targets are adults, Disney films have proven that musicals are now enjoyed by children and teens alike. With all the findings the writer has collected, she has successfully analyzed the function of Disney princesses and endorsed the importance of the role of princesses in a patriarchal world.
Stover (2013), a researcher from University of Southern California, used historical events to test her hypothesis that the Disney Princesses represent elements of anti-feminist backlash agenda that aimed to control and disempower feminism. With the purpose of examining both the evolution of Disney and the relationship between Disney’s representation of women in the 1990’s and the post-feminist ideology, Stover analyzed historical appearances of Disney and compared them to the events that were happening during the production of the films. The writer found her hypothesis strongly supported in these comparisons. The events that occurred during the time of the release of the film were reflected in the depiction of the Disney Princess. Though there are changes in the roles portrayed in modern Disney Princess films, these characters especially their happily-ever-after ending continued to be instruments of “selling empowerment as commodity to the empowered female consumer” (p.6). With these findings, the author challenged studios to provide children role models that are not adorned with jewelries and tiaras but rather possess strong personalities and more character that would stay longer in the market.
An online article was taken from Newsweek to widen further the study. Setoodeh (2011) discussed how the “princess brand is on its way on becoming the most successful marketing venture ever.” The writing of this article stemmed from the rising popularity of Disney merchandises and Disney themed events. She stated the beginning of the brand and how the popularity of the Disney princesses led to the making of this market. The writer mentioned examples of how these female protagonists influence women. Since women want to feel like a princess, they buy materials that make them feel that way. Although the author cited several ways of expanding the brand such as new princess movies, Disney princess-inspired clothes, and other gimmicks, she ended with a challenge stating that it’s still a person’s responsibility to have their own “happily ever after.”
The articles and studies the researchers have gathered about gender roles in films prove that the Disney princess films present gender roles stereotypically whether the audiences are aware of it or not. The impact and influence that were mentioned in these articles and studies affect the audience of Disney films. Mostly, children and girls were the ones mentioned who are usually influenced by the contents and representation of the characters in Disney princesses. Even if the audience is aware of it or not, they are the ones exposed to these films and are witnesses of the how the women are represented in the films. There were also other Disney movies mentioned that showed the differences in the story and representation of women in different periods or transitions as films were released in the entertainment industry. The differences among the movies from then and now are evident. The first few movies represent women in a stereotypical way. These women in the movies are usually weak and should always be saved by a man. As the time goes by, contents in these films differ in a way that the women are now the heroine of their own stories.
A. Theoretical Framework
The current study of the researchers did not cover the effects of watching gender role portrayals in Disney Princess films on viewers especially children. Rather, the study revolved around the topic of how Disney princess films portray or represent gender roles specifically women. It focused on the evolution of the characteristics portrayed by the Disney princesses in the films. In Eagly’s Social Role Theory, men and women act in different ways depending on how society expects them to. This theory demonstrates three patterns: (1) Household roles are taken by women more, (2) People have distinct occupational positions depending on their gender, and (3) Women have more inferior job positions than men. This principle indicated the historical division of labor between men and women (Eagly, 1987). Society expects that men often have responsibilities outside home while women are to work inside. This expectation would be passed down to future generations and would impact the social behavior of each gender. As a result, the stereotypes in society would govern the behavior of men and women.
Bearing this in mind, Disney princesses assume roles that are stereotypical. Early Disney princesses such as Snow White and Cinderella are seen to be cleaning the house, consequently, taking up the gender roles of women that are expected by society. Aurora, another Disney princess in the earlier Disney princess films, displayed weakness and was portrayed as a damsel in distress. This affirms society’s assumption of women having weaker characteristics than men. The princes of the stories often rescue the princesses. The earlier Disney princesses, therefore, illustrated the stereotypical gender role assumptions of society. Society recognizes women as homemakers, Disney therefore also portrayed these female protagonists as homemakers. However, it has come to many that Disney has evolved since then. In Disney’s newest princess movie Moana (2016), the female protagonist has been portrayed androgynously. Moana was recognized as the chief’s daughter, and even then, she would rule the villagers after her father.
Other communication theories were also utilized. Since it was mentioned earlier that the current study did not cover the effects of watching gender role portrayals in Disney Princess films on viewers especially children. The researchers, however, acknowledged that exposure to these films has an influence on children’s perception of each gender’s position. The constructivist approach and cultivation theory both verify the effect of viewing stereotypical gender roles on audiences. Constructivist approach argued that children emerge their ideologies from the things they observed and experienced (Martin et al. 2002), and “therefore, viewing stereotyped or egalitarian depictions of gender roles will influence children’s ideas about gender” (England et al, 2011, p. 557). Gerbner et al. (1980) discussed the role of television in the lives of viewers especially children. Cultivation theory explains that a long-term exposure to media violence may have effects at a conscious and unconscious level according to Griffin (2014). It has been proposed by Gerbner (1969) that heavy viewers might have skewed perceptions of the world due to false representations being on shown on different forms of media. Since Disney films cater mostly to younger audiences, their perceptions of the social world are rooted from the symbolic environment constructed by television. This symbolic environment is what gives order and meaning to human actions. The cultivation theory simply suggests that viewing Disney princess films for a prolonged amount of time will develop the way children perceive their norms and traditions. Therefore, if the audiences continuously view Disney princess films and the way gender roles are being portrayed, then there is a possibility that that is what they perceive to be normal in the society. Additionally, Klein (2000) along with other authors has pointed out that cultivation theory posits that higher levels of exposure to gendered messages are likely associated with stronger effects on children’s gender socialization. In the study, it was mentioned that these theories are somehow evident because parents perceive Disney as quality family entertainment which gives children an easier access to these films (Buckingham, 1997), sometimes the portrayal of gender in these films are accepted even by the parents where children are easier to influence to.
Social Constructionism Theory studies the development of different occurrences in society. Society is viewed depending on a person’s objective and subjective form of reality. This is also mainly concerned with examining the process by which people describe or explain the world in which they live in (Gergen, 2011). This theory explains how concepts, ideas, and other issues are formed. The existing notions of society are formed because people give them reality through social agreement. Men naturally construct and inhabit a world with others. This would be his dominant and definite reality (Berger and Luckmann, 1966). How men create their world depends on how they perceive it. This perception becomes society’s reality as long as it has been accepted by many. The approach emphasizes the idea that society is actively and creatively formed by man and idea that are formed portray their world.
B. Conceptual Framework
In line with this, as the Disney princesses’ characteristics evolve through the years, the gender stereotypes being portrayed by the princesses could be based on how the world looks at women in our society. Considering the approaches of the theory, Disney created princesses depending on how women are perceived in the generation they existed. For example, in the generation when Snow White was created, it can be noted that women in the 1930’s were more feminine than they are now. The women in that generation were mostly working in their home. These were the times when the males were considered as the breadwinners and the women have lighter workloads. However, as women in society changed in personality so does women in movies evolved. In particular, the Pixar film Brave portrayed Merida, the princess in the movie, to desire to be an archer rather than a princess. The personalities portrayed by Merida in the film are androgynous. Unlike Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Merida was not saved by a man. The story ended with Merida being the heroine of the story. The differences between the two movies were dominant in terms of the gender portrayals and the content of the stories also differed with a more distinct plot.
To emphasize the approach of the theory in the film, the personalities portrayed by the Disney princesses, the gender stereotypes evolved as how the society perceived women in certain generations. In differentiating the transitions that separated each film, it could be seen that the portrayal of personalities of the Disney princesses evolved depending on the generations the Disney movies were released.
C. Operational Framework
Gender schema theory suggests that the people create an understanding of the world around them by arranging what they learn into concepts such as gender (Klein et al., 2000). These schemata formed from their parents, people, environment, and media such as television and movies develop children’s concepts. According to this theory, the depiction of gender roles observed in one’s environment unfolds their concepts of gender. Therefore, if Disney illustrates a particular gender stereotypically, then that may emerge as a child’s conception of that specific sex, in addition to their observation of other mediums such as their family and friends. Furthermore, stereotypes have been defined as “standardized conceptions of people, primarily based on an individual’s belonging to a category” (Schweinitz, 2011, p.4). The theoretical framework exhibited that the possession of characteristic traits symbolizes the categories of race, nation, professional role, social class or gender (Schweinitz, 2011), which could also be a possibility because the roles given to different Disney characters vary depending on the transition where these movies exist.
The researchers came up with the topic “The Study of the Development of Androgynous Gender Role Portrayals from Stereotypical of Disney Princesses in the Original Disney Princess Films Franchise” due to the rising popularity of Disney movies not only catering to young viewers but also to the older audience especially with classical animated Disney films turning into live action ones. There have been several Disney films over the past years, and by analyzing the portrayal of the gender roles of these distinct Disney princesses, it would help the pair to conduct a more elaborate and deeper study of the gender roles.
The process that the researchers went through resulted to a mere observation that does not affect the creation of Disney Pixar Production, instead, the pair have analyzed and observed the certain scenes that support the theories and their study. The method of research is as follows:
To start off with the study, the pair utilized both online and printed sources such as journals, books, internet articles, and movie reviews that discuss the topic. These sources would contribute to the review of related literature as support to the research study. In order to study the development of androgynous gender role portrayals from stereotypical of Disney princesses, the pair chose to use written materials describing and analyzing each Disney princesses from each of their movies. They have also watched the Disney Princesses films together.
With that being said, this research is qualitative in nature. The following steps was the step by step approach of the group. First, the researchers watched the chosen films without criticizing them. Next, they viewed the first movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) while listing down their observations. The researchers paused the video while they tallied the behaviors and characteristics displayed by the princesses. They were also able to jot down parts of the movie that can be used to emphasize the stereotypical or androgynous descriptions of the princess. After observing the first movie, the researchers then watched the next movie, Cinderella (1950). Again, they carefully watched each scene while listing down their observations. They paused the movie as much as they wanted to in order to analyze each scene closely. This procedure continued until the researchers have viewed all of the chosen Disney Princesses movies. After watching the movies, they have analyzed the development of the gender role portrayal of Disney princesses and how the Disney princesses evolved from the stereotypical Snow White to the androgynous Moana. It took the pair days to watch and observe the movies. After accomplishing the whole checklist, the researchers obtained the needed information for the evaluation. They clearly identified characteristics of the princesses for the readers to fully understand the research without having to watch all of the Disney princess movies.
The researchers chose the entire line of the Disney princess films franchise in order to emphasize the evolution of the gender role portrayal of the Disney Princesses. After gathering the information needed and after tallying the checklist, the researchers presented the tallied results in a form of tables and graphs in the next chapter of the paper. With this, the group will come up with a more profound analysis as to how the gender role portrayal of Disney princess in the movies evolved and what factors led to the result of the study. The results tallied that were presented by a table are interpreted to see the patterns shown in each movie. For additional comprehension of the results, the pair discussed the development shown in the conclusion.
It can be noted that the researchers chose to conduct a close reading method in contrast with using interviews, focus group discussions, and surveys. It is because the study mainly focuses on the development of the androgynous gender role portrayal from stereotypical of Disney princesses. With that being said, asking information from respondents would be unnecessary and impractical. It is already sufficient to conduct a close reading method in order to closely study each princess, whether in terms of physical characteristics or in terms of behavior.
Communication theories were also utilized in order to analyze the results of the study further. Eagly’s social role theory is utilized to explain the distinctive roles of men and women based on society’s expectations. Furthermore, the theory of social constructionism and gender schema theory were combined to have an integrated approach.
Data Presentation, Analysis, Interpretation
Female stereotypes are common in the Disney Princess films franchise. Women are supposed to be weaker than men. They are quieter and are not allowed to speak out. Women are supposed to be submissive and do as they are told. They are to stay home and do the household chores. Furthermore, women love to sing and dance. They are supposed to be presentable. Finally, women are the damsels in distress and never the hero (Brewer, 2018).
1. Snow White
When Snow White was looking for a place to stay, she found the Dwarfs’ place. Before she attempted to knock on the door, thinking that the dwarfs were there, she fixed her hair to look a bit presentable. While the Dwarfs were out mining, Snow White cleaned the Dwarfs’ house, making their house spotless. In terms of chores, she could also cook, sew, bake, and do other household chores. This trait is usually stereotypical. While she was cooking their dinner, she asked the Dwarfs to wash their hands before eating. When the Dwarfs said that they did wash their hands even though they didn’t, she raised her voice like a mother and asked them to wash their hands again. Furthermore, before the Dwarfs went to work, Snow White kissed the foreheads of Dwarfs like anyone’s mother.
Cinderella has done several household chores that are considered stereotypical. She has fed the animals, even the mice. She made tea and prepared the breakfast of her family. She was asked to iron, mend, sew, and do her family’s laundry. She was also asked to clean everything in the house. Her family used bells to call her. Moreover, Cinderella was concerned about her ripped dress when Godmother appeared. She looked at herself when Godmother transformed her torn dress into a beautiful gown. She quickly ran to the fountain and looked at her reflection on the water. This reflects how women should be presentable. Additionally, Cinderella sang the song her stepsister was singing beautifully.
Aurora received female stereotypes from around her when the fairies granted Aurora with lips as red as rose and the gift of song. This indicates that the fairies have given her gifts that are valuable to women such as their looks and their capability to sing. Aurora has done household chores such as cleaning the windows and she was asked by the fairies to pick some berries. Aurora also sang beautifully. Her voice echoed around the forest which attracted Prince Philip to follow her voice.
Although Ariel doesn’t do any stereotypical household chores as she lives under the sea, she is considered to have the most beautiful voice in the kingdom. She was described as having a voice like a bell. She loves music because she is part of the concert that it is arranged in their kingdom. Moreover, Ariel sang to Eric when she rescued him. Eric called her as having the most beautiful voice. She also sang when she was in love. Furthermore, Grim described Ariel as a vision. She also mesmerized Eric when she entered the room while she was wearing a gown.
Although she displayed stereotypical characteristics such as putting her hair behind her ear and hiding behind a tree while playing with the Beast, putting her head on the Beast’s chest when they danced, and touching the Beast’s face when she was about to leave, it can be observed that Belle has slowly evolved. Belle loves to read books and it is not typical of women to be educated. Gaston even questions Belle’s interest in books when she should be focusing on being a housewife instead. However, there is still hints of stereotypical qualities as Belle acted as a nurse when she cleaned the Beast’s wounds. Even though Belle is beautiful, she didn’t allow herself to be subject to being beautiful alone, she is also smart, brave, and the heroine of the story — qualities that aren’t stereotypical of women.
Jasmine displayed little stereotypical qualities. Even though she is acknowledged as the beautiful princess of Agrabah, she doesn’t want to be forced to get married. Her father instilled stereotypes on her by asking her to choose a prince to marry. Even though it is part of their law, this could be an indication that her father doesn’t trust the kingdom at the hands of a woman.
Pocahontas has shown a handful of stereotypes. She put her hair behind her ear when John Smith saw her. She also put her head on his shoulders. She let John Smith touch her face. She was biting her lower lip when she entered where John Smith was captured. She has hugged, kissed, and loves John Smith. Her father also enclosed her with stereotypes as he indicated that he wanted Pocahontas to marry Kocoum so that someone would take care of her. This shows the female stereotypes wherein a woman is incapable of taking care of herself.
Mulan has also shown stereotypical qualities. Mulan was asked to feed the chickens which is a household chore. She has said “sorry” in a girly voice. She couldn’t spit like a man. She couldn’t carry the heavy weights and was eventually kicked out of the army. She takes a bath because she doesn’t want to smell like a man. She was impressed by Shang when he took off his clothes. She didn’t want to see another naked man again. She covered her body when she was just in bandages. She kissed Mushu as thanks.
Growing up close to her father who loves to cook, Tiana learned to cook at a very young age. She’s highly skilled in the kitchen. She is considered as a master mincer, even teaching Naveen how to mince. She tends to serve other people in the movie. It can be noted that cooking and serving others are stereotypes for women.
Rapunzel has displayed some stereotypical qualities. She has put hair back of ear before asking Flynn something. She kissed Hook Hand on the cheek as thank you. She let Flynn touch her hair. Rapunzel can also knit, cook, bake, make candles, and sew.
Merida has displayed androgynous qualities most of the time. The only stereotypical thing she did was to sew which is a huge part of the story. This can be an indication that the Disney Princess film franchise is slowly evolving from stereotypical qualities to androgynous ones.
Anna has displayed little stereotypical characteristics. She asked Kristoff how she looked when her hair turned white. This is an indication that a woman, that is Anna, is asking a man, which is Kristoff, how she looked.
The only stereotypical characteristic Elsa displayed is being reserved as she doesn’t like to interact with others. However, it can be noted that the reason for her demureness is her desire to protect others.
Moana is different from the previous princesses of Disney. Like Elsa, she doesn’t display any stereotypical characteristics only her capability of sewing.
Summary of Female Stereotypes
The stereotypical qualities of the Disney princesses have faded over the years. While the classical princesses like Snow White and Cinderella display strong stereotypical characteristics, modern princesses like Elsa and Moana abandoned these stereotypes all together. From this observation, one can say that the Disney princess film franchise has developed over the years.
II. Damsel in Distress
Although it has already been dictated that female stereotypes include women as damsels in distress, the researchers decided to separate this category to further explain its definition and the princesses that display this characteristic. A damsel in distress is a young woman in trouble with the implication that the woman needs to be rescued, as by a prince in a fairy tale.
1. Snow White
Snow White is considered to be the damsel in distress of the story. Throughout the film, she has run away from troubles whether from the huntsman or the Evil Queen. When Snow White fell into a deep sleep because of the poisoned apple, it was the Prince who saved her by kissing her.
Although Cinderella has demonstrated her capabilities, she still relied on others for her rescue. When she was trapped inside her room, she relied on her mouse friends to get the key so she can get out. In the end, she was rescued from her family by the prince when he married her.
Aurora is quite similar to Snow White’s situation. For most of the movie, Aurora is in a deep sleep with Prince Philip fighting Maleficent to save her. She is considered the damsel in distress because if Prince Philip didn’t defeat Maleficent and kissed Aurora, she would have entered in eternal slumber.
Ariel has saved Prince Eric on several occasions. When Prince Eric drowned during a storm, it was Ariel who saved him. However, when Ariel turns back into a mermaid, she couldn’t do anything to save herself. It was Prince Eric who drove the ship into Ursula’s heart thus saving Ariel.
Although Belle is considered to be the heroine of the story, she still displayed being the damsel in distress in the story. Belle showed helplessness when she couldn’t defend herself from the wolves. It was the Beast who actually saved her. It can also be noted that Chip was the one who freed Belle and her father when Gaston trapped them in their basement. However, Belle is still recognized to be the heroine of the story as she was the one who broke the Beast’s spell.
Even though Jasmine is recognized to have a strong personality, she was still a damsel in distress when Jafar trapped her inside a giant hourglass. It was Aladdin who saved her from getting buried alive.
Pocahontas is considered the heroine of the story. She was the one who stopped her tribe and the Americans from battle. She was also the one who saved John Smith. This indicates that Disney has begun to transform princesses from damsels in distress to heroines of their stories.
Mulan is the heroine of the story. She was the one who saved China and its entire population from the Huns. Mulan has sacrificed her safety multiple times. Even though she knew she could die if the army finds out that she is a woman, she still went on her way to save her father. She has also saved Shang from falling off the cliff. Mulan is a clear representation of how much the Disney Princess films have evolved.
Tiana is the heroine of the story. First, she saved Naveen from the shadow man by breaking the necklace that can destroy the lives of Naveen and of the governor of their town. Second, she saved them both from being a frog by kissing the prince in marriage. They became humans once they realized that Tiana became a princess when she became Naveen’s wife. The Princess and the Frog continues the princess as the heroine formula.
Although Disney almost retracted to their princesses as the damsels in distress formula when Flynn was the one who helped Rapunzel escaped her tower, it was still Rapunzel who bargained with Mother Gothel so she could save Flynn. When Flynn died, it was Rapunzel who brought him back to life. This contradicted Disney’s first few movies because it was not the prince who brought the princess back to life but it was the princess who saved the prince this time.
Merida is considered the heroine of the story. Although she was the one who caused her mother’s transformation, she still resolved her own mistakes by mending the tapestry she ripped with pride. Brave is different from the rest of the Disney princess film franchise because the main protagonist doesn’t have any love interest. It actually focused on the relationship of mother and daughter.
It can be seen that Disney has indeed evolved as Anna, the princess, was the one who saved her sister from the prince of the story. Although there were several occasions wherein Anna was a damsel in distress when she asked for help from Prince Hans and Kristoff to unfreeze her heart, she was still the one who sacrificed herself for her sister. Anna is considered the heroine of the story because she defended Elsa when Prince Hans was about to attack her with his sword. It was Anna who also reminded Elsa that love thaws, thus saving Arendelle from winter.
Elsa is considered deuteragonist of Frozen. She has demonstrated being in trouble but she has never sought help from others. When the duke of Weselton’s guards attacked Elsa, she didn’t ask for help but was capable of fighting with her powers. Therefore, Elsa is no damsel in distress. However, she isn’t the heroine of the story also as Anna was the one who saved her.
Moana is unexpectedly the heroine of the story. Even though she was chosen by the ocean when she was young, it was not her task to restore the heart of Te Fiti. Her only job was to find Maui so that he’s the one who will restore Te Fiti’s heart. Supposedly, Moana should be the damsel in distress, asking for a demigod’s help. However, when Maui gave up and left, Moana was the one who fought her way through the sea and realized that Te Ka is actually Te Fiti without her heart. Moana is considered the heroine of the story because she was the one who restore Te Fiti’s heart thus saving her people.
Summary of Damsel in Distress to Heroines of the Story
The evolution of princesses from being damsels in distress to heroines of the story is evident. The classical princesses demonstrated that they needed a prince to save them from their current state. During the Renaissance era, some princesses like Ariel and Jasmine are damsels in distress while some like Mulan and Pocahontas are heroines of the story. However, the modern princesses proved that the Disney princess film franchise has developed as all of their princesses are heroines.
III. Dependent to Independent
A dependent person is someone who relies on others for support while being independent is defined as not being controlled by others. People who are independent don’t rely on others. Being independent shows the desire for freedom. They are self-sufficient and are capable of taking care of themselves.
Snow White has shown that she is dependent throughout the story. It was already mentioned that Snow White is the damsel in distress in the story, so this means that she was in need of someone to rescue her. She was frightened by the dark forest and was helpless. It was the dwarfs who drove away the Evil Queen, and it was the Prince who kissed Snow White thus saving her life.
Cinderella is also the damsel in distress of the movie thus she has relied on others to save her. Cinderella relied on Godmother to help her go to the ball. When Cinderella was trapped by her stepmother, it was her mouse friends who saved her. Furthermore, she was saved from her family by the Prince when he married her. In short, Cinderella doesn’t show independence in the movie.
Similar to Snow White and Cinderella, Aurora didn’t show any independent qualities. She also relied on Prince Philip and the fairies to save her from eternal slumber.
The formula still continues with Ariel as she has shown to rely on others rather than to rely on herself. She asked help from Ursula when she wanted to be with Prince Eric. Her animal friends have helped her on several occasions. In the end, it was Prince Eric who saved her and the Sea Kingdom.
Belle has shown that she is quite independent. She went after her father when their horse came back without her father. She also went inside the castle to find out where her father is. She is also willing to replace her father as the Beast’s prisoner. All throughout the movie, her father was the one who relied on Belle to take care of him. This can be interpreted as a development in the portrayal of Disney princesses.
Jasmine has demonstrated being independent. She insulted and drove out the prince she disliked. She has dictated that she doesn’t need a man although her father wanted someone to take care of her. She continues to argue that the law is wrong and that she can’t have her life live for her. When Aladdin and Jafar were arguing about who gets to marry Jasmine, she reprimands them, saying that she’s not a prize to be won. She can get married not for the reason of relying on others but for love.
Pocahontas is highly independent. Even though her father insisted her to marry Kocoum because he doesn’t want Pocahontas to be alone, she has proved that she can take care of herself. Pocahontas didn’t rely on others when she stopped her tribe and the Americans from battle. This indicated that the Disney princess film franchise is slowly adapting more independent princesses.
MulanMulan didn’t rely on others to save China. Even though she has asked others to help her when her true gender was revealed, it was her wits and determination that saved the country. Mulan is highly independent just like Pocahontas. She was able to work her way through the army and was able to defeat their strong enemy.
The princesses continue to show independence. Tiana is highly independent right from the start of the film. She has worked double jobs and has worked for herself all her life. She wanted to achieve her dream and she relied on herself to do this.
Rapunzel is able to defend herself with a frying pan as weapon, therefore she is independent. It can be noted that she rescued Flynn from the guards and saved themselves from drowning with her hair. Although she relied on Flynn to guide her to the floating lights, she was able to do things on her own.
Merida is highly independent. It is seen that she is knowledgeable of survival skills. She’s good at directions and recognizes poison berries and worm-filled water. She is capable of catching a fish from the creek. She can also cook fish and even taught her mother to catch one. With this in mind, Merida is considered as highly independent as she can surely take care of herself even outdoors. Furthermore, Merida doesn’t want to get married because she knows that she can take care of herself.
Anna is somewhat independent although just like Rapunzel, has asked others for help. Anna asked Kristoff to take her to mountains. However, it can be noted that Anna initiated confronting Elsa in order to stop the winter. She just trusted Hans to take care of the kingdom while she is gone but she has shouldered the harder task on her own.
Elsa has isolated herself ever since she was young. Her sacrifice to protect her sister can be seen as independence. Especially when her parents died, she has already accustomed herself into being alone. She even created a castle with her own powers. She was fine being by herself.
Although Moana’s initial task was to retrieve Maui for him to return the heart of Te Fiti, it was actually Moana who saved her people. Moana is highly independent. She didn’t want to keep on relying on the ocean or Maui to sail hence she asked Maui to teach her. After learning how to sail, Moana was able to do things on her own. Although Moana has asked Maui several times for help, she was the one who did things on her own most of the time.
Summary of being Independent
The evolution of princesses from being dependent to independent is evident. The classical princesses demonstrated that they relied on others to help or rescue them. During the Renaissance era, the princesses have developed to independent women. Ariel is the only one to have shown dependence while Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan have shown characteristics of independence. Furthermore, the modern princesses proved that the Disney princess film franchise has developed as all of their princesses are highly independent.
IV. Androgynous Qualities
Androgynous qualities are characteristics that are not limited to one gender. It is having qualities that are both male and female. Since the focus of the study are the female protagonists of the Disney princess film franchise, the researchers would be looking at the qualities that are not female stereotypes.
Snow White doesn’t display any androgynous qualities. It was observed that she possessed several female stereotypes such as cleaning, cooking, and being helpless.
Cinderella has demonstrated a single androgynous quality and that is to speak up. When Cinderella received their invitation to the ball, she insisted that she is also invited since the invitation indicated that all maidens are invited to come.
Similar to Snow White, Aurora didn’t display any androgynous qualities.
Ariel possessed some androgynous characteristics. She likes going to adventures which is contrary to female stereotypes to just stay home. She is also disobedient especially to her father, a man. Ariel is also brave. She didn’t let go of the boat even when there was a storm. She also rescued Prince Eric from drowning. It can be noted that Disney is starting to show androgynous qualities for their princesses.
It can be observed that Belle broke away from the dull Disney princesses’ characters. Belle is given more depth. She likes to read even though Gaston insisted that women shouldn’t read. The villagers thought Belle was peculiar because she doesn’t act like a typical female. Even though Belle is stereotypically beautiful, she is not limited to this description. She is also smart, brave, and upfront. Therefore, Belle possessed several androgynous qualities.
Similar to Belle, Jasmine has more depth as a character. She has a strong personality and is capable of taking care of herself. Jasmine told Aladdin that she’s a fast learner. She proved this by jumping across the houses with a stick exactly the way Aladdin did it. It can be seen that doing something athletic such as crossing with a stick is not typical of females. Therefore, Jasmine has androgynous qualities. Furthermore, she is able to command the guards to unhand Aladdin. She demonstrated authority which women don’t usually possess.
Although Pocahontas displayed some stereotypical characteristics, she has exhibited several androgynous qualities. Pocahontas is recognized as a leader. Her father acknowledged that Pocahontas demonstrated courage and understanding when she stopped the battle. She was recognized by both sides as she passed by even though she is a woman. She is also adventurous, going from places to places while typical women should be staying at home.
Mulan is different from the Disney princesses because she was a man in disguise. Mulan woke up with messy hair. She was always late. She tends to make excuses. She put notes on her arm to cheat. She didn’t want her hair perfect, she wanted one hair out of place. She doesn’t walk ladylike. She’s not happy when she was shown wearing makeup. She was described as too skinny, her body not good for bearing children, and a disgrace, that she looked like a bride but will never bring her family honor. She also spoke without permission twice. She can wield a sword. She cut her long hair to pretend to be a guy. The only time she demonstrated female stereotypes was when she was not used to being a guy yet.
Even though Tiana has worked as a waitress, it was her motivation that made her job not stereotypical. She worked hard in order to achieve her dreams. She’s not like other women who dreams and does nothing about it. She works day and night to attain her goals. She has been seen waking up with messy hair and declining fun for her dreams. It can be truly seen that Disney is slowly transforming their princesses into less stereotypical and more and more androgynous.
Rapunzel uses a frying pan as a weapon. Even though her weapon is a stereotypical cooking ware, she has used her frying pan to defend herself countless of times. It can be noted that it is not typical of women to defend themselves.
Merida has demonstrated androgynous qualities most of the time. She hated being a princess and she doesn’t want to marry. She has a weapon, a bow, even though she’s a princess. She also knows how to use a sword. Merida also eats apples like a boy. She complained about the tight dress she can’t breathe in. She wanted one hair out of place. She’s not amused by her suitors and makes fun of them instead. She ripped her dress in the process of preparing to shoot. All in all, she is an androgynous princess.
Anna was able to punch Hans even though she is a woman. This is not typical of women as women aren’t allowed to fight back. Instead of staying home, Anna went after Elsa so she could stop winter. In the end, she was the one who saved Elsa and the whole kingdom from winter.
Elsa doesn’t display any stereotypical characteristics in the film. She is recognized as queen, meaning that her people trust a woman to rule over them. She is also capable of protecting herself with her powers. Thus, she is not seen as powerless which is typical of a woman. Overall, this indicates that Disney’s princesses have evolved.
Moana’s physical appearance isn’t like the princesses previously made by Disney. Yet she is somehow similar to Pocahontas. Unlike the princesses before with fair skin and straight hair, Moana’s hair is curly and wavy, and her skin isn’t as fair as the others. She doesn’t like to be called princess. Furthermore, her waist isn’t as skinny as the previous princesses. She is recognized as a leader and could also do what men do.
V. Quick to fall in love
Love is included in the film most of the time to create a more interesting storyline. However, love is often portrayed to develop quickly. Falling in love quickly means claiming you love someone and agreeing to marry them even after you just met. Although it is understood that love is different from others, it can still be observed that Disney has their own way of portraying women falling in love.
Snow White falls in love easily with a Prince whom she just met. She sees love from a man as the only answer to happiness as she wished that she would meet the prince by going to his castle. In the end, the Prince is recognized as Snow White’s love because she was awakened by his kiss which in the spell could only be broken by love’s first kiss.
Cinderella didn’t know that she was dancing with the Prince. She just took his hand and they danced. She forgot to check the time as she was busy dancing with the Prince. They almost kissed even if they just met that night. Cinderella described the Prince as someone who is handsome. She didn’t care about her chores when she found that the guy she danced with was the prince and was looking for the girl who owned the glass slipper. It can be seen that Cinderella was indeed quick to fall in love. The film’s resolution ended when Cinderella and Prince Charming got married.
Aurora agreed to dance with Prince Philip because Prince Philip claimed that they already met. She said that the day she met Prince Philip was the happiest day of her life. When Prince Philip kissed her, she came back to life because it was true love’s kiss. She was actually happier to be with Prince Philip than with her parents who she never met until that night. Clouds started to form as they danced, symbolizing that she’s in cloud nine when she’s with him. Thus, Aurora is also quick to fall in love.
When Ariel first saw Prince Eric, it was love at first sight. She even flirts with a statue version of him. When Ariel’s father found out about her collection especially her adventures on the surface, Ariel claimed that she loves Prince Eric. Furthermore, she chose leave her family to be with Eric. Her transformation would only be complete with true love’s kiss which is recognized to come from Prince Eric. In the end, she marries Prince Eric in three days’ time.
Unlike her previous counterparts, Belle didn’t fall in love easily. She didn’t like the Beast at first but has grown to like him. She saw through the Beast’s physical appearance. She was also alarmed that she might be falling in love. She acknowledged that she’s happy with the Beast but still wished to see her father. Moreover, Belle said “I love you” to the Beast only when he died thus breaking the spell. She analyzed the Beast’s transformed facial features before finally acknowledging that it is him. It was observed that she slowly kissed the Beast. They kissed again in the end.
Even though Belle was not quick to fall in love, Jasmine fell in love easily. It was observed that she almost kissed Aladdin even if they just met. She held hands with Aladdin and put her head on his shoulders during their carpet ride. She said that she had the most wonderful time with Aladdin. She was happy that she’ll marry Aladdin. At the end of the film, she held onto Aladdin and kissed him.
Pocahontas was quick to fall in love with John Smith. Although at first, she was just curious about his presence, it didn’t take long before they started to fall for each other. She was even willing to die if John Smith died. However, it can be noted that even though Pocahontas was quick to fall in love with John Smith, she knows her responsibilities in her tribe so she chose her people over him.
Love was not the focus of the story. Although there were several hints between Mulan and Shang, Disney didn’t focus so much in this storyline. However, at the end of the film, Mulan asked Shang to stay for dinner. This indicated that Mulan wanted to know about Shang before starting something.
Tiana didn’t like Naveen at first but eventually fell in love with him. She is willing to marry him even if they just met two days ago. She ran off when she saw fake Naveen about to marry Lottie. She said that her dream is incomplete without Naveen. She told Naveen that she loves him. She was still happy even if they’re frogs as long as they’re staying together. She married Naveen twice. It can be seen that Tiana didn’t fall in love easily but she did marry right away when she realized she loves Naveen.
Rapunzel didn’t fully trust Flynn at first. But eventually, she falls in love with him. Flynn and Rapunzel held hands and almost kissed during the lantern festival. She cried when she thought Flynn left her for the crown. She is willing to sacrifice her freedom to save him. It can be noted that she was the one who kissed Flynn. However, she eventually married him only after several years of him asking her.
Merida didn’t have any love interest. Although she has a handful of suitors, she didn’t like any of them. Brave focused on the love between mother and daughter rather than the romantic kind.
Anna was very quick to fall in love. When she met Hans for the first time, she called him gorgeous. They bonded for one night and when Hans asked Anna to marry her, she immediately agreed even though they only knew each other that day. However, it was mentioned that Anna doesn’t know anything about love. She thought she loved Hans but, in the end, her love for her sister saved her.
Elsa doesn’t have any love interest in the film. Hans mentioned that no one was getting anywhere with her. This means that Elsa doesn’t welcome suitors.
Similar to Merida and Elsa, Moana doesn’t have any love interest. Her love for her people was the thing that motivated her to restore Te Fiti’s heart.
Summary of Quick to Fall in Love
After watching all the movies, the researchers found out that princesses “falling in love quickly” slowly diminished. The classical princesses were quick to fall in love while the princesses of the renaissance era were slower to fall in love. However, the modern princesses don’t seek love the way renaissance era princesses prioritize it. They seek the love that they need from the people around them. An example is the love that a sister needs in Frozen or the love of her people from Pocahontas.
VI. Heroine of the Story
The main female character obtains the characteristics of being the heroine of the story if the character shows actions of solving the conflict of the film. It is also considered that the female protagonist is a heroine of the story if she has special achievement or any portrayal of a good role model being shown in the film.
Snow White did not portray any characteristic that will qualify her as a heroine of the story. She was saved by the Prince when he kissed her thus saving Snow White from the effect of the poisoned apple given to her by the wicked queen.
In the film, Cinderella was not the heroine of the story. Since she was abused all the time by her step-sisters and step-mom, she had nothing to do but follow their orders. She is more likely the Damsel in Distress in the story. She was only saved from her situation when the Prince had to look for her in every corner of the kingdom. The Prince was the hero of this story.
Aurora was the one being saved by Prince Phillip from her deep sleep which was a curse bestowed upon her by Maleficent. Hence, Prince Phillip was the hero of the story.
Although Ariel shows bravery throughout the story as she tries to prove to her father, King Triton, that she can be on her own, she still became a Damsel in Distress of the story. By the time that Ursula had a chance to have King Triton’s power, it was Prince Eric who defeated and killed Ursula in the end.
Disney changed its character design on the female protagonist when Belle became the Heroine of the story after saving the Prince from being the Beast and saving the palace from the curse as well.
Jasmine showed attributes of being independent in the film of Aladdin, yet she was not the heroine of the story. Aladdin saved Agrabah from Jafar.
Pocahontas was definitely the heroine of the film. With her free-spirited and very independent personality, Pocahontas had her own decisions without any hesitations. She knew that she can unite her tribe with the settlers even though it was dangerous. Pocahontas was able to save John Smith from being killed by her father, the Chief, and she was able to save her tribe from the war, thus, she is the Heroine of the story.
Without a doubt, with Mulan’s story, she was certainly the heroine of the story. She didn’t need a man to save her from this story, instead she became a man on her own, as she has pretended to be a man in order to save her sick father from joining the army. In line with this, Mulan was able to prove that women can also fight in wars. With her bravery, she became the savior of China, thus, she is the heroine of the story.
Tiana is one of the most independent and hardworking princesses in Disney. She proved that she didn’t need any man or anyone to achieve her dreams. She showed bravery and saved Naveen from the Shadow man by breaking the necklace that can destroy Naveen’s and of the townspeople’s life. She also saved the story when she married Naveen, become a princess, kissed him, and transformed to humans once again.
Rapunzel was also an independent and brave princess. Yet with these skills, she can’t be considered as Heroine of the story because most of time, she was saved by Flynn Ryder. Although she was able to save and heal Flynn after being killed by Mother Gothel. Towards the end of the story, Rapunzel became more of Damsel in Distress as she was already tied up by Mother Gothel. With all the conflicts and before Flynn died, he was able to cut Rapunzel’s hair which also saved her from being enslaved by Mother Gothel, which actually resolved the whole story. With this, Rapunzel was able to go back to her real family.
With the title of the movie, Brave, it was obvious that having a courageous heart is the dominant part of her personality, not to mention being a skilled archer. She is the heroine of the story after messing up and turning her mother into a bear. Her journey to fix her relationship with her mom was challenging but she was able to turn the queen back to her human form before it was too late. True enough, she was able to, when mend the bond torn by pride. She saved her mom and their relationship as a family.
When Anna’s sister, Elsa, accidentally turned summer into winter and vanished because of fear, Anna did not give up looking for Elsa. She trusted that their relationship as sisters would help her talk to her sister and convince her to bring back summer. Even though it was dangerous, Anna’s optimistic and brave personality gave her the motivation to confront her sister. She actually saved Elsa from the fear she has been feeling ever since they were kids. She taught Elsa to love her powers more than just fear it.
Filled with fear, Elsa became a Damsel in Distress when she kept letting fear overpower her feelings. Yet she was saved by her sister, Anna, from the fear that she has been concealing all her life. Hence, Elsa was not a hero of the story.
Having a similar personality with Pocahontas, Moana is brave, independent, and adventurous. With these personalities, she was able to have the motivation to sail across the sea, find Maui and deliver him to Te Fiti for them to restore the heart. Moana saved and became the hero of the story when she able to save Maui from Tamatoa, bring Maui to Te Fiti, restore Te Fiti’s heart, and save all the islands from darkness. Hence, Moana is considered the heroine of the story.
Summary of Heroine of the Story
The change in character design of the main female character in the Disney Princesses films was very dominant as Disney released the film Beauty and the Beast. Although the character of Jasmine in Aladdin and Rapunzel in Tangled was still a Damsel in distress, Disney was still consistent in changing the stereotype in female characters through the years of making films with Disney Princesses in it. The first batch of Disney films, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Little Mermaid, was consistent in showing that the usual hero of the story are the princes of the story. Yet in Tangled, it was different, the hero was not a prince, but an ordinary thief of their kingdom. The development in the personalities of the Disney Princesses was seen in the stories of the film that followed Beauty and Beast. Therefore, Disney did change their main female protagonist of their stories.
To conclude, the gender role portrayal of Disney princesses has evidently developed from stereotypical to more androgynous characters. At the beginning of the princesses’ era, the classical princesses were seen as dependent damsels in distress waiting for their prince to save them while the renaissance princesses still demonstrated stereotypes with some androgynous qualities. Only the last two princesses of the Renaissance era, Pocahontas and Mulan, became independent heroines of their story. However, even though the modern princesses were more androgynous than previous princesses, they still possess little female stereotypical qualities. There is really a change in the Disney’s princess formula. The observation and analysis are as follows: First, classical princesses demonstrate dependence, weakness, and are quick to fall in love. Then, early renaissance princesses would possess these same characteristics. Afterwards, latter renaissance princess would show little of these qualities. Finally, modern princesses would abandon them completely. In the end, stereotypical damsels in distress Disney princesses have become androgynous heroines of their stories.
Conclusions, Implications, Recommendations
In this chapter, the researchers will be narrating a summary of the previous chapters of the paper. This would help the readers recall what has been discussed and would aid in determining if the problems of the study were answered by the researchers.
The researchers introduced the Disney princesses and their synopsis at the beginning of the paper. The original Disney princess films franchise list began with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) where a beautiful girl lived in the house of seven dwarves to hide from her stepmother, the evil Queen. It was followed by Cinderella (1950) where Cinderella is oppressed by her stepmother and stepsisters but is saved by the prince in the end. The Sleeping Beauty (1959) focused on the main character Princess Aurora being saved by a handsome prince when her cursed was fulfilled on her sixteenth birthday. The first three Disney Princesses movies are in the Classical era of the Disney princesses. The Renaissance era began with Little Mermaid (1989) where the main protagonist is Ariel, a mermaid who wanted to become human because she fell in love with a prince. The researchers then mentioned how women’s portrayal were starting to evolve in Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Aladdin (1992). However, it can be noted that the researchers haven’t analyzed each film yet. Moreover, Pocahontas (1995) focused on the main protagonist saving her village and Mulan (1998) who also saved her people. The Princess and the Frog (2009) then introduced the Modern Era. The Modern Era Disney princesses became more ambitious. Tiana was the first African-American Disney princess who wanted to have her own restaurant. Tangled (2010) is about the lost princess who dreamt of seeing the lights. Brave (2012) focused on Merida and how she didn’t want to be a princess. Frozen (2013) was the Disney movie that changed the typical boy-saves-girl story when Anna saves her sister, Elsa. The Disney princesses list ended with Moana (2016), Disney’s most recent princess film.
Statement of the Problem
There were four problems the researchers wanted to answer. The first problem is how do the animated Disney Princess films contribute to the development of female characters of Disney princesses. The second problem of the research is what are the feminine characteristics displayed by the Disney princesses. Moreover, the third statement of the problem asked what masculine characteristics are displayed by the Disney princesses. What are the development of the gender role portrayals of the Disney princesses in the animated Disney princess films is the last statement of the problem. This question was followed by a follow-up question if the Disney princesses display gender roles stereotypically or androgynously.
Statement of Objectives
The research aimed to identify how Disney princess films portray the gender roles of Disney princesses in their respective films. Their purpose is to study how these films contributed to the development of female characters of Disney princesses. Moreover, the researchers desired to note the feminine or formulaic qualities and masculine characteristics of these princesses. Through this study, the pair would be able to contribute insights to help Disney filmmakers, writers, and the Disney industry in improving their method and style in portraying Disney princesses.
Significance of the Study
Other than the possible effects of the gender role portrayal of Disney princesses on the viewers, the readers would be given a wider scope of understanding of these princesses. This study would be important to current and future students of the University of Santo Tomas especially Communication Arts majors who are interested in the field of films. Current and future filmmakers would also benefit from this study as the findings would contribute to their current knowledge and would help them create better characters in their future films. Feminist study can also benefit from this study. It would inform feminists about the way Disney depicts gender roles of their princesses. This study may also be important to current and future writers as this would aid in improving the princess formula and help in crafting better and more unpredictable plot for future stories. Finally, ordinary readers can benefit since they would have an idea of the development of the Disney princesses and how it might affect their life as Disney plays a part in a child’s upbringing.
Scope and Limitations
The scope and limitations of the study narrowed down the study because there are already several researches about the portrayal of the gender roles of Disney princesses. The researchers decided to do the same, however, with the addition of the newest Disney princess, Moana. The researchers also discussed about limiting the study to films. The study focused on purely animated Disney princess movies. The term Disney princess was also defined in this part of the paper. A Disney princess is not defined as the daughter of a monarch or wife of a prince but rather is described as being part of the princess franchise of Disney. In terms of deciding which animated Disney Princesses movies to include, the pair decided to choose the original Disney princess films. Therefore, sequels and series after original films would not be included in the study.
The pair also narrowed down the study to the gender role portrayals even though there are different representations of characters in Disney princess films because not all movies have elderly characters, children, and the likes. Additionally, this study would not cover the effects of the gender role portrayals of Disney princess films. Although the researchers are aware of the possible effects of watching Disney movies, they chose not to include this in their study. This is strictly an observation of the gender role portrayal of the Disney princesses. Therefore, exploring the factors that are affecting the creation and development of the Disney princesses is also not included.
Review of Related Literature
In this chapter, the researchers listed down the studies and articles that are relevant to their research. The study of England, Descartes and Collier-Meek (2011) has examined the gender role portrayals through three hypotheses. These hypotheses helped the pair identify the gender roles portrayed by the princesses in the films. The first hypothesis predicted that the gender role of the prince and princess would differ. The second hypothesis focused on the number of times the princess was saved. Lastly, the third hypothesis highlighted the variations that occurred in the films over time. As it was seen, there was an increase in the androgynous characteristics in the results of their analysis. Collins (2011) also observed gender roles in media with three hypotheses. With the first hypothesis, the author’s observation has expected that women are underrepresented across a range of media and settings. Meanwhile, women are often sexualized. Lastly, women are illustrated in their stereotypical roles as the author challenged the readers to consider the effects of how media portray women. With the hypotheses of Collins (2011), she enumerated the roles in media of women which also affected the portrayal of women in Disney princesses. This helped the researchers understand the era where the films were released. However, in relation to the study made by Maity (2014), a scholar from the Department of English of University of Burdwan, she focused her study on gender identity and gender roles of Disney movies and saw how identity is transformed through long term virtues and ideas. The stereotypical portrayals of the female in Disney films were emphasized in her study. It was noticed that the representation of women was gender biased and that the term “women” has become synonymous with the victim in the patriarchal society. An example was that women should stay at home similar to the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. Compared with these studies, another researcher of Sex Roles used a wider range of media to provide a qualitative content analysis on gender roles of media. Since the study focused on the female characters of Disney, it helped the researchers in their observations while analyzing characteristics of the protagonist especially their roles in being a victim or the Damsel in Distress. Nonetheless, Do Rozario (2004), a researcher from the Centre of Drama and Theatre Studies at Monach University, analyzed Disney princess in terms of the princess’ “position in her kingdom, in her relationships to femme fatale, fathers, and bad boys, and the performance in a genre shaped by film musical and fairytale” (p. 34). With the observation made by the author, the princesses lived in a patriarchal society. It was explained that the villains of the story are the femme fatale of the film as they illustrated that the authentic power come from bad women. As the author has successfully analyzed the function and importance of the roles of the Disney princesses, the researchers were able to understand the character design of the princesses or the female main character in the chosen films of this study. As the researchers considered the princesses’ positions in the kingdom, the pair had an opportunity to observe how the patriarchal society affected the gender roles of the princesses.
Focusing more on the content of the Disney films, researchers Lopreore and Gazda both emphasized their studies on analyzing the films depending on how they were formulated by Disney. Lopreore (2016) used qualitative methods to analyze the content of modern Disney Princess films. Like the researchers aforementioned, she tested her objectives with three hypotheses. Her first hypothesis was supported by a qualitative data on the difference of the gender role portrayals of princes and princesses. In her second hypothesis, it was, however, supported by finding of more egalitarian gender role portrayals. The result of the third hypothesis exhibited the androgynous gender role portrayals of each Disney princesses as it revealed the number of masculine characteristics did not significantly differ from the feminine features portrayed by princesses. In another article, it was argued that “Disney has focused less and less on the genuine qualities and faithful morality mentioned of their princesses instead on the prince princess dichotomy of finding true love” (p. 30). This argument by a researcher, Gazda (2015), focused on the media influences on girlhood through a close observation. With her observation on her daughter’s concept of femininity, there was a necessary presence of masculine figure or the “prince of the story in order to achieve the princess’ goals. Gazda (2015) recommended that “Disney could focus less on changing the original stories, and instead, alter them so that the princess is a stronger, more relatable role model of young girls” (p. 44). To sum up the similarities of the authors in terms of content, their observations explained their analysis on the content as the change and evolution of the portrayal of women occur. The changes may be minimal or distinct, each period or set of the release of films showed a difference in their content. With the content analysis done by these authors, it helped the pair in considering to observe the androgynous gender role portrayals of the Disney princesses of the films.
Disney films were released in different eras wherein the changes in the portrayal of women occurred as mentioned in the previous paragraphs. Since there were evolution and variations in the content and portrayal, some researchers created studies that shows the transition of the Disney princesses. Garabedian (2014) was detailed in explaining each transition she assigned in each era. She defined these eras as the Pre-Transition as the first wave of feminism period. The second period portrayed after effects of the second wave of feminism as mentioned by Krlokke (2014), the second wave had “documenting sexism in private as well as public life and delivering a criticism of gendered patterns of socialization” (p. 23); The Progression which is the third period did not break the princess pattern. In this period, the films Brave and Frozen made a shift where the opportunity of breaking the stereotype of the princess-needs-prince pattern has occurred. However, a researcher from Indiana State University, Barber (2015), made a study on the different shifts that happened in the Disney films, similar with Garabedian (2014). Barber named the shifts according to the characteristics portrayed by the Princesses. The first shifts are princesses that were portrayed as the stereotypical damsels in distress. The second shift was about the princesses were rebellious and ambitious. Lastly, the third shift was about the princesses who were independent and free-spirited. The separation of the films according to the transition that occurred and the changes in portrayal of women made a great impact to its audience especially to its heavy viewers. With the use of shifts and transitions, it helped the pair to observe the shift in the portrayal of the princesses, as it also goes along with the change of women in the society in different periods. The pair was able to see the shifts and transitions that Disney made and it became useful to observe the characteristics of the Disney princesses.
The researchers gathered data that claimed that the study on the gender roles portrayed in films were stereotypical whether that the audience are aware of it or not. In the articles gathered for this study mostly mentioned children and girls who can possibly be influenced by the changes made in the Disney films. There were studies and articles that showed the variations from the content of the films as it differs on the era that it was released or on the shifts that was created by some researchers. There were also studies and articles on the variation of women portrayal, again, depending on the era that it was released. At first, they were released when women were portrayed as weak and should always be saved by a man. In comparison, the recent movies nowadays, give a different story on how women can also be heroines of their own stories.
The researchers of the study explored possible theories that will support their paper. These theories are the Eagly’s Social Role theory, Cultivation theory, the Social Constructionism theory and the Gender Schema theory.
In the first theory, the researchers explained the three patterns:
(1) Household roles are taken by women more,
(2) People have distinct occupational positions depending on their gender, and
(3) Women have more inferior job positions than men.
These principles recognized the historical division of labor between men and women (Eagly, 1987). With that being said, the theory showed the affirmation of the society’s assumption of women having weaker characteristics than men since men are used as princes and the hero of the story. However, in Moana (2016), they changed their formula and gave women the power to be the heroine of their own stories.
Another theory was the Cultivation theory, wherein the researchers acknowledged the exposure of these films which may result to an impact of influencing its viewers on its content especially that it varies through the years. The Constructivist approach and Cultivation theory verified the effects of viewing stereotypical gender roles on audiences. Children are mostly mentioned when it comes to being influenced by the content showed by Disney in their films. One of the studies said that “viewing stereotyped or egalitarian depictions of gender roles will influence children’s ideas about gender” (England et al, 2011, p. 557). In the same theory, Griffin (2014) explains that Cultivation theory is a long-term exposure to media violence may have effects at conscious and unconscious levels. This theory emphasized the influences that may occur on its viewers.
In the theory of Social Constructionism referred to the sociological theory which discussed the development of different sociological phenomena in social contexts. From the previous chapter, it was mentioned that the theory discussed how the concepts, notions, and other issues made by the society have been accepted and became part of the knowledge of the people because man is biologically predestined to construct and to inhabit a world with others. From the graph that illustrates the process of this theory. It emphasized the societal agreement was rooted from man’s idea as the process of being accepted by the society which becomes a societal agreement.
Lastly, in the Gender Schema theory, it was mentioned that people created an understanding of the world by arranging them into concepts (Klein et al., 2000). It depends on the people surrounded by their environment. Furthermore, stereotypes have been defined as “standardized conceptions of people, primarily based on an individual’s belonging to a category” (Schweinitz, 2011, p.4). The table on illustrating this theory shows how the schemata is connected to the concepts of gender, gender roles and transition as it is also connected to the graph from the social constructionism theory.
The theories and their principles explained each part of this study to be able to support all the arguments made by the researchers. Tables and analysis are illustrated for further explanations.
In this chapter, the researchers discussed how they came up with their topic “The Study of the Development of Androgynous Gender Role Portrayals from Stereotypical of Disney Princesses in the Original Disney Princess Films Franchise.” It is due to the rising popularity of Disney movies not only catering to young viewers but also to the older audience especially with classical animated Disney films turning into live action ones.
To start off with the study, the pair utilized both online and printed sources such as journals, books, Internet articles, and movie reviews that discussed the topic. They have also watched the Disney Princesses films together. This research is therefore qualitative in nature. The following steps will be the step by step approach of the group. First, the researchers would watch the chosen films without criticizing them. Next, they would be viewing the first movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) while listing down all their observations. The researchers may pause the video while tallying the behaviors and characteristics displayed by the princesses. After observing the first movie, the researchers will then watch the next movie, Cinderella (1950). This procedure would continue until the researchers would have viewed all of the chosen Disney Princesses movies. After watching the movies, they will be analyzing the development of the gender role portrayal of Disney princesses and how the Disney princesses evolved from the stereotypical Snow White to the androgynous Moana.
The researchers mentioned that their research took several days to watch and observe the princesses of each movie. After gathering the information needed, the researchers presented the tallied results in a form of tables. They described in detail what happened and how the princesses acted in a particular situation. With this, the group came up with a more profound analysis as to how the gender role portrayal of Disney princess in the movies evolved. It can be noted that the researchers chose to conduct a close reading method in contrast with using interviews, focus group discussions, and surveys. It is because the study mainly focuses on the development of the androgynous gender role portrayal from stereotypical of Disney princesses.
Data Presentation, Analysis, Interpretation
The researchers listed down their observations and analysis of the original Disney princess films franchise in this chapter. A table of observations was presented. Each princess was described in detail. After the list of observations, the analysis and interpretation began with the definition of each category, then the classification of the characteristics of each princess, and finally a summary of each category. Female Stereotypes is the first category. The researchers concluded that while the classical princesses like Snow White and Cinderella display strong stereotypical characteristics, modern princesses like Elsa and Moana abandoned these stereotypes all together.
This category was followed by Damsel in Distress. The researchers listed down how each princess was a damsel in distress in their story. They concluded that the evolution of princesses from being damsels in distress to heroines of the story is evident. The modern princesses proved that the Disney princess film franchise has developed as all of their princesses are heroines.
Moreover, the third category is being independent. The evolution of princesses from being dependent to independent is evident. The classical princesses demonstrated that they relied on others to help or rescue them. During the Renaissance era, the princesses have developed to independent women. Ariel is the only one to have shown dependence while Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan have shown characteristics of independence. Furthermore, the modern princesses proved that the Disney princess film franchise has developed as all of their princesses are highly independent.
The next category which is androgynous qualities, is opposite to the female stereotypes. It was concluded that the classical princesses strongly displayed female stereotypes while princesses during the renaissance era portrayed a mix of both. The modern princesses evidently displayed androgynous characteristics. However, Disney didn’t totally abandon stereotypical female qualities.
Quick to fall in love was also as category of the analysis. Love is included in the film most of the time to create a more interesting storyline. However, love is often portrayed to develop quickly. Although it is understood that love is different from others, it can still be observed that Disney has their own way of portraying women falling in love. After watching all the movies, the researchers found out that princesses “falling in love quickly” slowly diminished.
Heroine of the story is the last category of the observations. The female protagonists of Disney are considered the heroine of the story if they’re the ones who solve the conflict of the film. The change in character design of the main female character in the Disney Princesses films was very dominant when Disney released the film Beauty and the Beast. Although the character of Jasmine in Aladdin and Rapunzel in Tangled was still a Damsel in distress, Disney was still consistent in changing the stereotype in female characters through the years of making films with Disney Princesses in it. Therefore, Disney did change their main female protagonist of their stories and transformed them to heroines of the story.
The chapter ended with a conclusion that the gender role portrayal of Disney princesses did, in fact, developed over the years. The usual formulaic Disney princess and storyline were replaced by more diverse characters and unpredictable plot. The researchers observed that the Disney princesses changed. They became more active, more independent, and more androgynous. In the end, the researchers can conclude that there is indeed a development in the gender role portrayal of Disney princesses.
To conclude, the result showed that there is in fact a development in the gender role portrayal of the Disney princesses. In the first chapter, the pair stated four problems that needed to be answered. The first problem is how do the animated Disney Princess films contribute to the development of female characters of Disney princesses. The researchers observed that the female characters of Disney princesses are parallel to the Disney Princess films. The princesses were evolving while the storyline of the films was changing. The second problem of the research is what are the feminine characteristics displayed by the Disney princesses. This question was answered through a close reading of the 13 original Disney princess films franchise. The third statement of the problem asked what masculine characteristics are displayed by the Disney princesses. The researchers observed that some Disney princesses portrayed masculine characteristics. The androgynous characteristics displayed by the princesses first began with Pocahontas and Mulan, last princesses of the Renaissance era. However, it can be noted that the modern era princesses like Merida and Moana were able to display androgynous qualities while having minimal feminine characteristics. What are the development of the gender role portrayals of the Disney princesses in the animated Disney princess films is the last statement of the problem. This question was followed by a follow-up question if the Disney princesses display gender roles stereotypically or androgynously. The researchers observed that there is a development in the gender role portrayal of Disney princesses. Compared to the previous classical princesses, the modern princesses were more active and even taking on the role of heroine of the story.
In a nutshell, the research on The Study of the Development of Androgynous Gender Role Portrayals from Stereotypical of Disney Princesses in the Original Disney Princess Films Franchise presented distinct characteristics and qualities of the Disney Princess in their films and the evolution of the gender roles of the princesses.
This study is limited to the original Disney princesses film franchise. With this, the pair recommend that the interested researchers could consider studying Disney series and sequels for a distinct research. Future researchers could also study the effects of the gender role portrayal on the viewers of these films. It is evident that currently there are many animated Disney princess films turning into live-action ones. An interesting study that could be conducted can focus on the difference between the animated film and its live-action version.
The researchers were unable to acquire Philippine-based articles as the majority of their utilized articles are from the West. Given this problem, the future researchers may consider looking for updated local journals and articles to make their studies. In the future, the group believed that there will be new Disney princesses that could be added to the study. Furthermore, since this study only focused on the gender role portrayal of the female protagonists of the story, the pair recommend that future researchers could consider other forms of representations such as race and age.
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Snow White (1937)
Feminine/ Stereotypical qualities
When Snow White was looking for a place to stay, she found the Dwarfs’ place. Before she attempted to knock on the door, thinking that the dwarfs were there, she fixed her hair to look a bit presentable.
Snow White always show her surprised expression in a feminine way with her hands reaching towards the sky.
The Prince courted Snow White while she was singing in the woods.
Descriptions from those around her The Mirror told the Wicked Queen when she was looking for the fairest one in the land that she has “hair as black as eboni, a lovely maid, more fair than thee, lips red as rose, and skin as white as snow.”
When the Dwarfs saw her sleeping on their beds, they described her with her beautiful physical features.
Looked down by the queen The queen dressed Snow White in rugged clothes.
Quick to fall in love
Snow White falls in love easily with a Prince. She sees love from a man as the only answer to happiness as she wished that she would meet the prince by going to his castle. She also describes prince like he’s dreamy yet she just met him. The princess was saved by love’s first kiss.
Naive When Snow White was visited by the Queen in a different form, she just believed the wicked queen of power of the apple given to Snow White.
Prayerful After a long day, before Snow White sleeps, she prayed especially for the Dwarfs that allowed her to rest on their beds and for giving her a place to stay.
Animal Lover Snow White often talks to animals she encounters. Being friends with these animals, she usually asks them for help to clean.
Has Motherly-like Traits While the Dwarfs were out mining, Snow White cleaned the Dwarfs’ house, making their house spotless. In terms of chores, Snow White could also cook, sew, bake, and other household chores. This trait is usually motherly-like.
While she was cooking their dinner, she asked the dwarfs to wash their hands before eating. When the Dwarfs said that they did wash their hands even though they didn’t, she raised her voice like a mother and asked them to wash their hands again.
Before the Dwarfs went to work, Snow White kissed the foreheads of Dwarfs like anyone’s mother.
Damsel in Distress When Snow White was running away from the Huntsman as she knew that the queen wanted to kill her, she was running and shouting out of fright because of the things she saw in the woods. Moreover, when the Queen went to her house and tricked her into biting the poisoned apple, Snow White showed helplessness. It was the Prince who saved her.
Feminine/ Stereotypical Qualities Cinderella was concerned about her ripped dress when Godmother appeared. She looked at herself when the Godmother transformed her torn dress into a beautiful gown. She quickly ran to the fountain and looked at her reflection on the water.
Descriptions from those around her The narrator introduced Cinderella as someone who possesses charm and beauty. She was described as gentle and kind despite everything that has happened to her. Jaq the mouse also described Cinderella as a nice person when he was convincing Gus to get out of the mousetrap. Guards also stared at her when she passed by.
Dreamer Cinderella told the animals that she had the most wonderful dream. She even sang a song about it. She sang that a dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep.
Animal lover Cinderella sang to mice and birds while she was doing her morning routine of getting dressed. The birds helped her take a bath. Moreover, she gives clothes to birds and mice, and calls them by name. The birds and mice also helped Cinderella with her dress because they know it’s important to her. The only animal she doesn’t really like is Lucifer.
Motherly/ Household chores Cinderella fed the animals, even the mice. She made tea and prepared the breakfast of her family. She was asked to iron, mend, sew, and do her family’s laundry. She was also asked to clean everything in the house. Her family used a bell to call Cinderella.
Singer Cinderella sang the song her stepsister was singing beautifully.
Damsel in Distress Cinderella relied on her mouse friends when she was trapped by her stepmother. She also helplessly cried when she locked in her room. But she thought of calling Bruno to help the animals get rid of Lucifer.
Clever Cinderella fought for her right to go to the ball because she understood that all the maidens in the land are invited to come.
Physically/Verbally Abused Cinderella was physically abused by her stepsisters when they tore her dress. Her stepmother actually encouraged her daughters to harm Cinderella. Cinderella was also blamed for things she did not do. For example, it was not her doing that there was a mouse in the cup of Anastasia when breakfast was served to them and yet they did not give her time to explain herself. They just assumed that it was Cinderella who did it.
Reasons why she cried Cinderella cried when her dress was torn to pieces and when she couldn’t go to the ball. She also cried when she was trapped in her room.
Quick to fall in love Cinderella didn’t know that she was dancing with the Prince. She just took his hand and they danced. She forgot to check the time as she was busy dancing with the Prince. They almost kissed even if they just met that night. Cinderella described the Prince as someone who is handsome. She didn’t care about her chores when she found that the guy she danced with was the prince and was looking for the girl who owned the glass slipper.
Optimistic/Enthusiastic Despite the abuse shown by her step sisters and stepmother, she remained happy and optimistic in reaching her dreams. She also remained gentle and kind to them.
Feminine qualities Aurora has been gifted with lips as red as rose and the gift of song.
Born into royalty Aurora’s parents are the king and queen. She was betrothed to Prince Philip, the son of their neighboring king, when she was just a baby. Her betrothal is a sign of uniting the two kingdoms.
Dreamer Aurora dreamt of a tall, handsome, romantic prince. She was really sad because it was only a dream. Her dream about the prince occurred more than once.
Animal Lover Squirrels helped Aurora picked some berries in the forest. She talked to the forest animals about her dream. She also danced with an owl, and two rabbits.
Motherly/ Household chores Aurora cleaned windows and was asked by the fairies to pick some berries.
Singer Aurora sang beautifully. Her voice echoed around the forest which attracted Prince Philip to follow her voice.
Damsel in Distress All throughout the movie, Aurora was just asleep. She was cursed by Maleficent on her birthday that she will die on her sixteenth birthday. The fairies then decided to take care of Aurora so they can hide her from Maleficent. However, Aurora was still hypnotized by Maleficent to touch a spinning wheel therefore, entering into an eternal slumber. Prince Philip was the one who defeated Maleficent and kissed her, thus saving her.
Quick to fall in love Aurora agreed to dance with Prince Philip because Prince Philip claimed that they already met. She said that the day she met Prince Philip was the happiest day of her life. When Prince Philip kissed her, she came back to life because it was true love’s kiss. She was actually happier to be with Prince Philip than with her parents who she never met until that night. Clouds started to form as they danced, symbolizing that she’s in cloud nine when she’s with him.
Reasons she cried Aurora cried when she found out that she couldn’t be with Prince Philip because she is betrothed. She didn’t do anything, she just obeyed and followed the fairies to the castle, knowing that she’ll never see Prince Philip again.
Born into Royalty Ariel is a princess, daughter of Sea King Triton.
Singer Ariel has the most beautiful voice in the kingdom, according to Sebastian. She was described as having a voice like a bell. She loves music because she is part of the concert that it is arranged in their kingdom. She also sang to Eric when she rescued him. Eric called her as having the most beautiful voice. She also sang when she was in love.
Curious Ariel is enthusiastic about human things like a fork and a pipe. She asked Scuttle the names of the human things she found. She was also curious about her tail turning into feet. She looked under the carriage when Eric was showing her around the kingdom.
Adventurous Ariel loves going to sunken ships and discovering new things about humans there, even though it is dangerous. She is also a fast swimmer.
Irresponsible/ Disobedient Supposedly, Ariel was the lead singer of the concert in their kingdom’s event, yet she was not there. She forgot her responsibility in the kingdom because she was too busy looking for human things in shipwrecks. She does not obey the rules of their kingdom especially the ones about avoiding humans. She deliberately went to the surface even if her Dad told her not to. She didn’t listen to Sebastian’s Under the Sea song, even sneaking off while he was singing. She tends to argue with her father, and claimed that being 16 years old, she could be independent and be on her own.
Animal lover Ariel has a best friend fish, Flounder. She also helped a fish. She comforted Flounder when he was scared. She saved Flounder from a shark.
Quick to fall in love When Ariel saw the boat, she climbed on it, out of her curiosity, and saw Prince Eric, with her facial expression showing that she’s fallen for him. She called Prince Eric handsome. Throughout the story, she was thinking of Prince Eric, wondering if she should meet or see him again. When the boat was in danger she saved Prince Eric only. She picked out the flower’s petals while chanting “he loves me, he loves me not.” Ariel also flirted with Eric’s statue and talked to it. She couldn’t stop thinking about him that it led into an argument with her father shouting the words: “Daddy, I love him.” She chose to leave her family for him. She makes herself beautiful for Eric by combing her hair with a fork, thinking it has the same function as a comb. Ariel likes looking at Eric. She has to make Eric fall in love with her as her dream would be fulfilled when Eric kisses her. In the end, she marries him. She kissed Eric thrice.
Risk Taker After an argument with her father, Ursula’s followers, the eels, offered a proposal to Ariel, yet even though Ariel knew that it was the sea witch, she still took the offer. She also signed a contract saying that she is in possession of Ursula.
Ariel takes risk even though the shipwreck is dangerous, she still went there to find new things for her collection.
Damsel in Distress Ariel cried when she was told she wasn’t allowed to go to the surface. She also cried when her collection was destroyed. Moreover, when she saw Prince Eric choose someone else over her. After showing helplessness as she transformed back to being a mermaid, she couldn’t save herself, instead, Prince Eric saved her and their kingdom from Ursula by driving the ship onto Ursula’s heart.
Dreamer Ariel wanted to be free. She is unsatisfied with her sea life. She’s miserable under the sea. She longs to be with Eric, a human.
Brave Ariel kept holding onto the boat even if there was a storm. She saved Flounder from the shark, saved Eric from drowning, and wasn’t afraid of jumping over the ledge. She also attacked Ursula when Ursula took the trident and the crown. She also pulled her hair.
Funny Ariel finally made Eric laugh after many weeks.
Beautiful Grim described Ariel as a vision. She also mesmerized Eric when she entered the room while she was wearing a gown.
Loved by her father Even though King Triton had an argument with Ariel, and even though she disobeyed her father’s orders, he still sacrificed himself and took the place of Ariel as Ursula’s possession.
Feminine/ stereotypical qualities Belle put her hair behind her ear. She also hid behind a tree while playing with the Beast. She put her head on the Beast’s chest when they danced. She touched the Beast’s face when she was about to leave.
Descriptions from those around her The villagers described Belle as peculiar, strange, dazed, distracted, and a funny girl. She is also a puzzle, odd, and doesn’t quite fit in although they find her beautiful. Lafou referred Belle as the inventor’s daughter while Gaston called her the most beautiful girl in town. The triplets called Belle crazy when she was rejecting Gaston. Furthermore, Lumiere thought Belle as the girl who came to break the spell when she first came to the castle.
Dreamer Belle is not satisfied with her provincial life. She wants more than her current situation. She dreams of going to adventures in the great somewhere but she wants someone to share it with.
Likes Belle likes to read books even if Gaston insists that a girl shouldn’t read. She also likes talking about what she just read. She really likes reading as she’s very interested in a library. Moreover, she read to the Beast and taught him how to read.
Dislikes Although Belle acknowledges that Gaston is handsome, she sees him as rude and conceited. She doesn’t want to marry him and become the wife of a boorish guy like him.
Animal lover Belle is concerned for their horse Philip. She knows how to ride a horse. She talks to the sheep about her book. She also played with the dog in the castle.
Singer Belle is capable of singing. She sang about wanting more than her current provincial life.
Relationship with father Belle supports her father in his inventions. She calls her father a genius. She also loves her father and she went to search for him when their horse came back without him. She saves her dad by taking his place as the Beast’s prisoner. She took care of him when he was sick.
Curious Belle told the Beast to go into the light when she couldn’t fully see him. When the Beast followed her orders, she was curious about his features. Belle also asked about the west wing which the Beast forbid her to go. She went to the west wing anyway. She was very interested in the painting and was about to touch the enchanted rose before the Beast stopped her.
Brave Even though Gaston was very aggressive in asking Belle for her hand for marriage, she refused and rejected him in front of the whole town.
Belle didn’t scream when she saw the Beast. She won’t leave until her father is free. She even took his father’s place as prisoner just to set him free. She also defended the horse with a stick when wolves were attacking them. Furthermore, she tried to escape the basement when she was trapped but Chip eventually saves them. Belle ran after the villagers to save the Beast. She also reached her hand towards the Beast to help him. In the end, she was the one who broke the spell thus saving everyone in the castle.
Reasons she cried Belle cried when she didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to her father. She also cried when the Beast died.
Stubborn Belle doesn’t want to go to dinner with the Beast. She’d rather starve than eat with him.
Beautiful Many times, in the movie, Belle is described as pretty and beautiful. Her name is Belle which means beauty. The Beast described as so beautiful.
Damsel in Distress Unlike other princesses, Belle can take care of herself yet there were certain parts of the movie where she showed weakness. It was the time when she had to be saved by the Beast when she tried to escape and nearly eaten by the wolves in the forest.
There was also a time when she and her dad had to be saved when Gaston locked them both up. Yet it was not a prince that saved her, it was their friend Chip.
Disobedient Belle went to the west wing even if she was told not to. She also sneaked out to eat dinner after the Beast told her that if she didn’t want to eat with him, she couldn’t eat at all.
Motherly-like Trait/ Caring Belle washed Beast’s wounds after being attacked by the wolves. She also raised her tone of voice when Beast was whining and licking his wounds. She knew how to take care someone else like a mother.
Polite Belle said thank you when the Beast saved her and she also said please when the Beast was stubborn. She was shocked at the Beast’s way of eating but eventually drank the soup like him.
Smart Belle reads book and she figured out that she’s in an enchanted castle on her own.
Kind Belle helped the Beast when he fainted from the wolf attack. She took care of him when he was already inside the castle.
Not quick to fall in love Belle didn’t like the Beast at first but has grown to like him. She saw through the Beast’s physical appearance. She was also alarmed that she might be falling in love. She acknowledged that she’s happy with the Beast but still wished to see her father. Moreover, Belle said “I love you” to the Beast when he died thus breaking the spell. She analyzed the Beast’s transformed facial features before finally acknowledging that it is him. She slowly kissed the Beast. They kissed again in the end.
Playful The Beast and Belle were playing in the snow.
Upfront Belle asked the Beast to dance. She was the one who asked the Beast to dance and not the other way around.
Heroine of the Story Belle was the savior of the whole story, she saved the Beast from the curse as well as the people in the Castle.
Born into royalty Jasmine is the princess of Agrabah.
From the law of their kingdom, the princess had to marry a prince. A law that she really despised.
Yet Jasmine knows her authority as a princess when she revealed herself to the guards that caught Aladdin and used that to save Aladdin.
Descriptions from those around her Aladdin described her as “smart, fun, beautiful” and he liked her eyes, hair, and smile.
Dreamer Jasmine doesn’t want to be confined with marrying a prince. She wants to get out of her palace. She doesn’t want to be a princess anymore. She just wanted to be free and not feel trapped.
Independent Jasmine insulted and drove out the prince she disliked. She has dictated that she doesn’t need a man although her father wanted someone to take care of her. She continues to argue that the law is wrong and that she can’t have her life live for her. When Aladdin and Jafar were arguing about who gets to marry Jasmine, she reprimands them, saying that she’s not a prize to be won. She doesn’t want to be forced to get married but wants to fall in love.
Disobedient Jasmine sneaked off out of the palace with the help of Raja, her tiger.
Animal lover Jasmine’s animal companion is a tiger named Raja. Raja has helped Jasmine multiple times. She also likes Abu, Aladdin’s monkey. She petted a horse when she and Aladdin were flying on the magic carpet.
Singer Jasmine is capable of singing. She sang about seeing a whole new world with Aladdin.
Beautiful Jasmine amazed Aladdin when he first saw her. Aladdin also said that Jasmine stood out. Jafar called her “a beautiful desert bloom.” Genie told Aladdin he’ll never find a girl like her in a million years.
Fast Learner Jasmine told Aladdin that she’s a fast learner. She proved this by jumping across the houses with a stick exactly the way Aladdin did it.
Leader Jasmine commanded the guards to unhand Aladdin. She wanted to be queen so she would have the power to get rid of Jafar.
Brave Although at first Jasmine closed her eyes when she rode the magic carpet, she eventually enjoyed the ride. She told Jafar that they will not bow down to him. She splashed water on Jafar’s face when Jafar was harassing her. She tried to attack Jafar and tried to get Jafar’s scepter.
Reasons she cried Jasmine cried when she found out that Aladdin is dead, blaming herself.
Go with the Flow Jasmine was in trouble for getting a fruit from a cart. Then Aladdin came to save her by pretending that Jasmine was crazy. Instead of getting angry with Aladdin, she also pretended to save them both from the apple vendor.
Strong Personality As mentioned in the previous description on her, her personality shows strength. Jasmine tried to be herself and kept on fighting for what she wants, even though it could lead to an argument with her father.
Polite Jasmine told the firebreather “Excuse me” when she accidentally hit him.
Smart Jasmine pretended to be crazy to fool the vendor. She used Abu to make Aladdin confess. She found out that Ali is really Aladdin. She also tricked and distracted Jafar by kissing him.
Kind Hearted Jasmine gave an apple to a hungry child.
Damsel in Distress By the time that Jafar enslaved the sultan and Jasmine, Jasmine was not able to do anything but follow Jafar. She was also trapped in a big hourglass wherein Aladdin had to save her and her dad.
Quick to fall in love Jasmine almost kissed Aladdin even if they just met. She trusts Aladdin easily both when they were going to jump from building to building, and when they were about to ride a magic carpet. She held hands with Aladdin and put her head on his shoulders during their carpet ride. She said that she had the most wonderful time with Aladdin. She was happy that she’ll marry Aladdin. At the end of the film, she held onto Aladdin and kissed him.
Feminine/ Stereotypical Qualities Pocahontas put her hair behind her ear when John Smith saw her. She also put her head on his shoulders. She let smith touch her face. She was biting her lower lip when she entered where smith was captured. She has hugged, kissed, and loves John Smith.
Descriptions from those around her Her father said that she looked like her mother when she wore her mom’s necklace and that she has her mother’s spirit. She is the daughter of the chief.
Independent Her father wanted her to marry Kocoum but she doesn’t want to. He said that Pocahontas is not alone because Kocoum is there.
Decisive Pocahontas, being an independent person, she had decisions of her own wherein she never hesitations on. One example was when she decided to have a secret rendezvous with John Smith.
Curious Pocahontas sneaked around and followed John Smith. She also asked about his helmet.
Animal lover Her animal companions are a racoon and a hummingbird. Animals also helped fix her necklace.
Singer Pocahontas can sing and she sang about the wonders of nature.
Household chores Pocahontas collects corns.
Adventurous Pocahontas was usually out, not in her tribe, always seek for adventure. Her curiosity took her to many places. This was shown when Pocahontas was out in the river, rafting. This personality led her to meeting John Smith.
Leader Her father acknowledged that Pocahontas demonstrated courage and understanding when she stopped the battle. She was recognized by both sides as she passed by. She chose to stay because she’s needed in her home. She said goodbye to John Smith, choosing her people over love.
Brave Pocahontas is not afraid of heights. She jumped and dove from a tall cliff. Pocahontas also showed bravery when she checked what were the strange clouds meant and followed it. She also tried to stop John Smith and Kocoum from fighting. She told her dad that she will die if John Smith will. She became the peacemaker of two sides.
Quick to fall in love Pocahontas was quick to fall in love with John Smith.
Relationship with grandmother Pocahontas is close with Grandma Willow. She has asked guidance from her.
Heroine of the Story Pocahontas realized that their tribe and the people of John Smith can agree and fixed their misunderstanding by talking and not starting a war. She saved the people from killing each other and instead made them realize that everything can be done through good communication. She also saved John Smith from being killed by her father.
Feminine/ Stereotypical Qualities Mulan said “sorry” in a girly voice. She couldn’t spit like a man. She couldn’t carry the heavy weights and was eventually kicked out of the army. She takes a bath because she doesn’t want to smell like a man. She impressed with Shang when he took off his clothes. She didn’t want to see another naked man again. She covered her body when she was just in bandages. She kissed Mushu as thanks.
Androgynous qualities Mulan woke up with messy hair. She was always late. She tends to make excuses. She put notes on her arm to cheat. She didn’t want her hair perfect, she wanted one hair out of place. She doesn’t walk ladylike. She’s not happy when she was shown wearing makeup. She was described as too skinny, her body not good for bearing children, and a disgrace, that she looked like a bride but will never bring her family honor. She also spoke without permission twice. She can wield a sword. She cut her long hair to pretend to be a guy.
Descriptions from those around her Her papa said that the late bloomer is the most beautiful of them all. The council called Mulan an absolute lunatic. The emperor said that Mulan ran away from home, stole your father’s armor, deceived your commanding officer, dishonored the Chinese army, destroyed my palace, and saved us all. The emperor said that a girl like Mulan don’t come every dynasty.
Clumsy Mulan broke a glass/cup while offering a cup of tea to her father. She also had a hard time with the matchmaker because of her clumsiness. She was called a “disgrace” after the session with the matchmaker.
Religious Mulan asked help from her ancestors. She prayed before the matchmaker test and asked help from ancestors before running away.
Smart Mulan used their dog to do the chores for her. She also used the golden circular weights to help her climb. She defeated the whole army instead of just the leader with a cannon. Mulan was also a fast-thinker, she used arrow to climb up as they were falling from cliff. She climbed the pillars of the palace instead of entering through strength. She used her womanhood instead of strength to save China.
Animal lover Mulan’s horse is Khan. She knows how to ride him. She also has a dog named Little Brother. A dragon Mushu and a lucky cricket helped Mulan throughout the film.
Singer Mulan can sing and sang about her true self.
Household chores Mulan was tasked to feed the chickens.
Dreamer Mulan wanted to uphold her family’s honor.
Leader The guys following Mulan’s orders. She also commanded Chen Po to save the emperor. The emperor bowed down to her. The whole China bowed down to Mulan.
Brave Mulan confronted her father about going to war. She took her father’s place even though she could die. She also slapped Mushu when he said he can see right through her armor. She saved her horse from burning carriage and saved Shang from falling down the cliff. She chose to save others over herself. She chose to fight the Hun head, and eventually defeating him with a fan.
Relationship with father Mulan gave her dad tea. She doesn’t want him to go to war because he is sick. She cried because father will leave.
Relationship with grandmother Mulan’s grandma gave her lucky cricket. She also told her to climb roof to see what’s going on.
Hard worker Mulan didn’t give up but continued to reach for the arrow stuck on the pillar. Eventually, she exceeded the whole army’s capabilities.
Strong Mulan was able to save Shang even if she was cut by a sword.
Heart Strong/ Determined Mulan was established as the weakest man in the army, yet she didn’t give and tried even harder to prove herself that she deserves to be part of the army. Mulan knew that being a woman, most people will not believe her, yet, for the safety of China, she still tried to save it from the Huns.
Heroine of the Story Mulan saved China. Mulan saved everyone in the story.
Hard worker Tiana worked double jobs as a waitress. She looks at cooking magazines and doesn’t want to dance because has to work. She has no time and concern for men. She neglects her friends because of work. She’s earning money to get her dream restaurant. She always claims that she doesn’t have time for dancing and love. She dictates that you gotta make things happen. Moreover, she is not superstitious, you must work hard. Tiana woke up early even as a frog. She paddled the leaf boat while Naveen played music.
She tends to do things for herself and getting across the thorn bushes on her own. She didn’t want to waste time, she wanted to talk to Mama Odie as soon as they can. She fixed the restaurant with Naveen and finally achieved her dream.
Realistic Tiana said that fairy tales don’t come true. She told Ray that Evangeline’s just a hot ball of fire and to open his eyes now before he gets hurt.
New Physical appearance for a Princess For Disney, Tiana is a new character as a princess. Unlike all Disney creations before Princess and the Frog, this one is different. Tiana is an American-African, has dark skin, and curly hair. Another observation is that, most of the time in the movie, Tiana is in a form of a frog.
Optimistic Tiana was optimistic about her restaurant even if people are discouraging her. She also sees potential in the old place.
Animal lover Tiana gave food to a dog. She became a frog and became friends with a crocodile and a light bug.
Singer Tiana can sing and sang about her dreams.
Discriminated The real estate sellers called Tiana as a woman of her background.
Household chores/ Motherly Tiana scolded Louis about going to Mama Odie’s in the wrong direction and always drags Naveen to places. She can cook very well, even teaching Naveen how to mince.
Dreamer Tiana wanted to own a restaurant for her daddy. She wants a place in the sun.
Independent Tiana argued with the real estate people. She threw things at the talking frog when she was scared. She has a strong arm. She also fought Naveen when she turned into a frog and insulted him as a “spoiled rich boy.” She defended herself against Naveen when he was coming too close. Moreover, Tiana helped guide Louis while Naveen and Louis were singing. She further saves naveen when he was captured. She ran off with the Shadowman’s necklace. She scared and threatened the shadow man. In the end, she saved herself from Shadowman.
Loves her family so much Tiana is very close to her parents, being an only child. She loves them so much that she never gave up on her father’s dream for her.
Pretty Charlotte called Tiana as pretty as a magnolia when she wore a gown.
Clever Tiana bargained with Naveen and saved him by outsmarting the hunters.
Confused Tiana became sad that Naveen left. She became unsure about what to do now. She said that she has always been sure but now she’s not.
Not too quick to fall in love At first, Tiana didn’t like Naveen but eventually fell in love with him. She is willing to marry him even if they just met two days ago. She ran off when she saw fake Naveen about to marry Lottie. Her dream is incomplete without Naveen. She told Naveen she loves him. She was still happy even if they’re frogs as long as they’re staying together. She married Naveen twice.
Presence of mind Tiana didn’t get persuaded by the Shadowman’s tricks. She knew that her daddy had everything he needed. She destroyed the necklace thus defeating the Shadowman.
Heroine of the story Tiana is the hero of the story. First, she saved Naveen from the shadowman by breaking the necklace that can destroy the lives of Naveen and of the governor of their town. Second, she saved them both from being a frog by kissing the prince in marriage. They became humans once they realized that Tiana became a princess when she became Naveen’s wife.
Born into royalty Rapunzel is the lost princess of Corona.
Feminine/ stereotypical qualities Rapunzel put hair back of ear before asking Flynn. She kissed Hook Hand on the cheek as thank you. She let Flynn touch her hair.
Has powers Rapunzel has healing powers with her hair, because of the effect of the Magic Golden flower. She can use her hair to pull her mother up, tie Flynn to chair, swing across, and rescue Flynn.
Likes to do various activities Rapunzel can paint, knit, play guitar, cook, bake, papier Mache, make candles, sew, read, and play chess. She also danced, drew with chalks, and read books when she was in town.
Animal lover Rapunzel’s animal companion is Pascal the chameleon. They communicate with each other. They like to play Hide and Seek. She also controlled Maximus the horse. She claimed that she likes ducklings.
Talented Rapunzel is talented especially in painting. Since Mother Gothel did not want her to leave the house ever, Rapunzel was able to develop this talent. She loves painting that she was able to paint on the walls of her tower and share this talent by painting on the floor of the town.
Singer Rapunzel can sing and she sings about her various activities. She also sang about her dream.
Curious Rapunzel wanted to see the lanterns. She was curious about Flynn, checking his physical attributes. She asked about Eugene’s name change.
Scared Rapunzel is scared of the outside world and is relieved when she saw her mother in the darkness.
Dreamer Rapunzel dreamed of getting out of her tower so she can see the lights. However, after achieving her dream, her new dream is to be with Flynn Rider.
Independent Rapunzel used frying pan as weapon. She hit Flynn causing him to faint. She is rather Impressed that she was able to protect herself. She was the one who saved Flynn from the guards. She also tried to escape from cave using frying pan and tried to go underwater to escape. She removed the rocks to escape. Moreover, she pushed Mother Gothel away when she found out she was the lost princess.
Clumsy Rapunzel hit herself on the head with the frying pan.
Relationship with mother Rapunzel loves her Mother Gothel. She packed food for her mom when Mother Gothel was about to travel. She was shocked when she heard her mom’s voice. She said no to her mom when her mother was asking her to come with her. Mother Gothel actually kidnapped Rapunzel when she was a baby.
Smart Rapunzel knew they weren’t stars. She sang for the hair to glow so they can see. She used her birthday as reason to convince Max. She figured out she was the lost princess on her own.
Faithful Rapunzel claims that she doesn’t break promises.
Damsel in Distress When Rapunzel realized that she was the lost princess, Mother Gothel locked her up and made sure that Flynn will not be there to save her, yet Mother Gothel was wrong because Flynn was able to escape from the guards of the castle.
Brave Rapunzel was trying to stop the ruffians and eventually stopped the ruffians from attacking Flynn. She made the ruffians sing about their dreams. She impressed Flynn with what she did at the Snuggly Duckling. She is not afraid to jump.
Not too quick to fall in love Rapunzel didn’t fully trust Flynn at first. But eventually, she falls in love with him. Flynn was looking at her during the lantern festival. They held hands and almost kissed. She cried when she thought Flynn left her for the crown. She is willing to sacrifice her freedom to save him. She was the one who kissed Flynn. She married him after years and years of him asking her.
Leader Flynn dictated that Rapunzel eventually ruled with grace and wisdom.
Born into royalty Merida is the daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor, who ruled the Kingdom of Dun Broch.
Androgynous qualities Merida hated being a princess and she doesn’t want to marry. She said that she’s not ready for marriage yet. She has a weapon, a bow, even though she’s a princess. She also knows how to use a sword. Merida also eats apples like a boy. She complained about the tight dress she can’t breathe in. She wanted one hair out of place. She’s not amused by her suitors and makes fun of them instead. She ripped her dress in the process of preparing to shoot.
Archery skills Merida likes to shoot arrows. Her father gave her a bow when she was young. She practiced shooting immediately. She has grown to be a sharpshooter. She was able to shoot perfectly thrice. She was able to shoot an arrow so strong that it went through another arrow. She cried when her mother burned her bow.
Animal lover Merida’s animal companion is Angus the horse. She knows how to ride a horse. She even practices in front of him.
Playful Merida played Hide and Seek with her mother when she was young.
Curious Merida followed a trail of wisps when she was young.
Does not like suitors Merida did a lot of things to break the rules and have her own hand as princess. She didn’t like to entertain any suitors
Warrior type Merida had her own training ground to practice her archery skills. She was also able to handle herself when she was in the kingdom of Mord’u and had a little battle with him.
Scared Merida was scared of a bear when she was young. She used to be afraid of lightning and thunder. She screamed when she saw a bear which she didn’t know is her mother.
Survival Skills Merida can carve wood, climb the Crone’s Tooth, a tall mountain, and drink from the Fire Falls waterfall. She’s good at directions and recognizes poison berries and worm-filled water. She is capable of catching a fish from the creek. She can also cook fish and even taught her mother to catch one. Merida can climb and tried to escape the cave that was holding Mord’u.
Adventurous Merida showed this quality especially when her mom became a bear. She knew what was out there in the forest for them to survive.
Brave The film is called Brave. Merida is not afraid to shoot arrows to Mord’u the bear. She always claims to be fine even after falling. She told the leaders to “shut it” when they were noisy. She’s not afraid of bear. She can fight and escape from men even if they were holding her. She defended herself from Mord’u with a spear. The movie ends with Merida saying, “Our fate lives in us, you only have to be brave enough.”
Dreamer Merida wanted to be free.
Relationship with mother Merida’s mother taught her how to be a princess. Her mother wanted her to marry. Merida unintentionally turned her mother into a bear. She told her mother to catch fish on her own. She’s happy that her mother knows how to catch a fish after teaching her. Merida relied on her mother to do something to stop all the arguments. She is similar to her mother as she was able to stop the arguments. She cried when her mother didn’t turn back. In the end, they both changed.
Relationship with brother Merida has three younger brothers who are triplets. She gives them food. She bargained with them to help her get the key so she can get out of the room.
Disobedient Merida kept using her bow and arrow. She doesn’t like her princess sessions.
Clever Merida thought of a loophole for the rule that the eldest child of the leader of each clan. She won her own hand in marriage. She knew that the woman she was talking to was a witch. She bargained the witch with her necklace. She also figured out the spell. She is good at distracting and reuniting the clans in the process.
Pride Merida ripped the tapestry.
Independent Merida won her own hand in marriage. She tried to escape when trapped by using a chair to open the door. She broke her window but couldn’t fit.
Can sew Merida didn’t waste time, she sewed the ripped tapestry while riding her horse.
Presence of mind Merida quickly puts the mended tapestry on her mother.
Heroine of the story Merida saved her mother and their relationship as a family.
Born into Royalty Anna is the princess of Arendelle.
Playful When they were young, Anna tells Elsa that the sky’s awake so she’s awake and they have to play. She’s amazed at Elsa’s powers. She likes to play with snow. Her song “Do you wanna build a snowman?” depicted her playful characteristics. Her childhood was lonely without Elsa. She put a carrot on Olaf as his nose when she met him.
Independent When Elsa decided to keep distance from Anna to protect her from her powers, Anna became independent and she was capable of having fun on her own.
Her independence was also shown when she tried to stop the winter by confronting Elsa even though it was dangerous.
She also wanted to help Kristoff get rid of the wolves. She actually saves him by burning a bag and throwing it to the wolves. She wanted to help Kristoff. She also told Sven to jump over the edge. She further rescued Kristoff by throwing a grappling hook as he was falling off the cliff.
Anna also fought back as she threw a snowball at Marshmallow. She also used Kristoff’s knife to cut them free.
She ran towards the snow storm and towards Kristoff to save herself from freezing. In the end, she punched Hans on the face after leaving her to die.
Normal Anna showed that she is just an ordinary person. When she woke up on Coronation day, she woke up with messy hair.
Enthusiastic and optimistic With the singing of “For the First time in forever”, Anna is seen happy and enthusiastic even with having closed windows and doors of the palace all these years. She also hopes that Elsa will bring back summer.
Dreamer In her song “For the First Time in Forever”, Anna said that she longed for love, especially with Elsa distancing herself, so she wanted someone or The One to love her. She also wanted music, light, and dancing. She’s very excited for change and hopes that she won’t be alone anymore.
Feminine / stereotypical qualities When she saw Hans, she got impressed and she tried to impress him back. She pushes her hair back. She also asked Kristoff how her hair looked as it turned white. Kristoff helped Anna get out of the snow. Towards the end of the film, Anna kisses Kristoff on the cheek.
Quick to fall in love When Anna met Hans for the first time, she called him gorgeous. They had a bonding time for one night. When Hans asked her to marry her, she immediately said yes even though they only knew each other that day. In the same day, she trusted Hans without even thinking about it when she asked him to take over the Kingdom while she was gone.
Curious and inquisitive She keeps on asking why Elsa shut her off which made Elsa lose her temper thus revealing her powers. She asked the shop owner about Elsa. She also asked Kristoff about the mountain. Basically, Anna is always asking questions.
Friendly to any creature Like any other princesses, she was friendly to any creatures like Olaf, Sven and the trolls.
Loving sister Even though Elsa shut her off, she tries to confront her and understand her situation. She bravely went to Elsa to confront her even though she could be dangerous because of her powers.
Anna also saved Elsa’s life when Hans tried to kill her.
Beautiful Elsa said that Anna looks beautiful in her gown. Kristoff was amazed when he saw Anna wearing a grass gown.
Smart and fast-thinker It was the time when they were being chased by the big snowman, Anna hit it with a “catapult snow” to keep its distance from them. When Kristoff was unconscious, she cut the rope to save them.
Descriptions from those around her The trolls described Anna as having bright eyes, a working nose, and strong teeth.
Upfront Anna told Hans to kiss her when her heart was frozen.
Damsel in Distress When Anna was betrayed by Hans, and she knew that Hans was just using her, she couldn’t talk or move properly because of the ice placed in Anna’s heart by Elsa.
Heroine of the Story Anna did not just save Elsa but also saved the kingdom from winter, when she made Elsa realize that love can conquer their problems. She trusted Elsa that she could do it. She did not give up on her.
Selfless Anna was concerned about Kristoff when they fell off the cliff. She was also concerned about Olaf when he was melting. She chose to save Elsa than to kiss Kristoff which would save her. She sacrificed her life for Elsa. She stood between Hans and Elsa to defend her sister.
Not a typical Princess story Anna ended up with Kristoff. It was not typical because usually the princess ends up with the prince. Just like the story of Rapunzel, Anna ended up with a regular man, citizen of their kingdom.
Born into Royalty Elsa was the princess of Arendelle and was coronated as the Queen of their Kingdom in the film.
Dangerously powerful Elsa is born with powers. She can create castle and was able to bring Olaf to life. She also froze the entire kingdom. She created the snow monster Marshmallow. She also unintentionally freezes Anna’s heart. She uses her powers to protect herself. Her powers depend on her emotions so Elsa sometimes unconsciously generates ice.
Filled with Fear The moment she accidentally hit Anna on the head with her powers, she grew up in fear and shut off everyone including Anna. She had to conceal her fear in order to hide her powers and keep everyone safe, including Anna. In the whole story, Elsa tried to keep herself together yet her feeling of fear still dominates her.
Elsa is afraid that her powers are getting stronger and uses gloves to control them.
Because of the fear to hurt anyone, Elsa ran away from everyone the moment it was revealed that she has powers.
Elsa did not trust her own capabilities which made the whole situation worse. Because of this, it led to hurting her sister and freezing her heart.
She rejected Anna’s help.
Playful Elsa played with Anna when they were young. She also likes to build a snowman which is Olaf. She laughed with Anna at the Coronation Party. She made an ice skating rink with her powers. She even gave Anna ice skates.
Overprotective Because of the accident that happened, she shut Anna off and she keeps on rejecting her just to keep the distance from Anna and to keep her safe. At the part of the movie, when Anna tried to confront her, Elsa mentioned that “I’m just trying to protect you” yet she didn’t see that it was already affecting their relationship.
Reasonable Like a queen, Elsa is very reasonable. She rejected the permission of Hans and Anna for their marriage because Elsa knew it would not work because Anna and Hans just met.
Confident After singing “Let it go”, in which Elsa really did let go of her old life, she became very confident and proud with the powers. For a moment, she was able to control it, not because of fear but because she learned to embrace her powers.
Courageous The moment that Elsa was attacked by the soldiers in her castle, she tried to fight them and protect herself through her powers.
Prefer to be isolated Elsa doesn’t want anyone to touch her. She kept pushing everyone away. She doesn’t even want to talk to Hans. She ran away when she was discovered. She acknowledges that she is the queen of isolation. Even though she is alone, she is happy that she’s finally free.
Loves her sister very much Being very overprotective, Elsa showed how much she loves her sister that she was devastated when Hans told her that Anna died already. Yet love is actually the one that has conquered all of their problems and stopped the winter in their kingdom.
Born into royalty Moana is the daughter of the Chief and is next in line as Chief of the tribe.
Brave Moana was not afraid of adventure stories filled with monsters when she was young. She actually liked the story of Te Fiti. She was the only kid that wasn’t scared of the stories. She dived into the realm of monsters, being the only human to do so.
Animal lover When Moana was young, she helped a little baby turtle cross the beach and get to the ocean without being eaten by the birds. Her animal companion is Pua the pig. She was awkward with Pua when she said that the pork is good. She also chose to befriend a chicken instead of giving it to people for them to eat it. Throughout the movie, Hei Hei the chicken accompanies Moana. She has also saved Hei Hei several times.
Androgynous qualities Moana’s physical appearance isn’t like the princesses previously made by Disney. Yet she is somehow similar to Pocahontas. Unlike the princesses before with fair skin and straight hair, Moana’s hair is curly and wavy, and her skin isn’t as fair as the others. She doesn’t like to be called princess.
Different/Unique When her grandmother was telling a story about Maui, Moana was the only one who wasn’t scared among the other children. She was actually amazed.
Curious Moana followed the seashells when she was young. She also asked Maui about his tattoos.
Capabilities Moana has a number of capabilities. She can climb trees, mountains, and sails. She can sew when the sail was broken. Finally, she can sail after Maui taught her.
Leader Since Moana is the daughter of the chief, she is recognized as the future tribe chief even if she is a girl. Her father doesn’t require her to marry unlike Pocahontas. When Moana grew older, she showed leadership in her tribe when she helped the villagers. She comforted a man getting his tattoos. She tried to solve the scarcity of coconuts and fish. It was also shown that she was really into knowing her whole tribe. She also had dancing lessons with children. She was talking to them her tribe like she was already their chief which made her parents very proud. She argued with her dad to go to the ocean, find Maui, and restore Te Fiti’s heart not because she wanted to disobey him but because she wanted to help her people. Maui trusted moana to lead the sailing. In the end, she put a seashell to symbolize her contribution to her village as their leader. She taught her tribe to sail and is now a master wayfinder.
Ocean lover Moana was already chosen by the ocean to save the people from darkness when she was young. She loved going to the sea when she was young. As she grew up, all she ever did was to try to go to the ocean and discover what was in it. She collected seashells and followed the sea. She likes to sneak off to go sailing. She also drew a boat when she was young. She also made a leaf boat at a young age. She doesn’t want to stay in the island because she longs to travel to the sea. Her song “How Far I’ll Go” demonstrates her longing to be in the ocean.
Singer Throughout the movie, she had moments where she always sings.
Close to her grandmother Like Mulan, Moana is really close to her grandmother where she always bonds with her grandmother. Her grandma saw Moana being chosen by the ocean. She also helped Moana. Moana cried when her grandma died. Her grandma’s ghost reminded her of who she is.
Adventurous Being an adventurous person, Moana always wants to be in the ocean. She tries to escape from her dad to be in the ocean.
Her adventurous characteristics were demonstrated in the scene where her grandmother pointed her to the place where their ancestors hid their boats when they were still voyagers. The moment they went there, even though she didn’t know what was in the cave, she still went in and wanted to know who they were before.
Independent Her independence may be rooted from her leadership skills. She wanted to know what was beyond the reef which led to an argument with her father. She went on her own to find Maui so she can save her tribe. She pinched Maui’s ear, telling him what to do. She doesn’t like Maui or is unimpressed when they first meet. She also defends herself from Maui. She escaped on her own when Maui trapped her in a cave. She attacked Maui with an oar. She wanted to learn sailing from Maui so she could stop relying on him. Moreover, Moana was able to get the heart of Te Fiti on her own when the little coconut people stole it.
Maui was supposed to save Te Fiti but he gave up so it was up to Moana. She went to restore Te Fiti’s heart without Maui and sailed without his help. Moana became part of Maui’s tattoos of accomplishment
Open to learn Moana knew that she had to learn how to sail a boat so she asked Maui to teach her.
Intuitive Moana eventually realized that Te Ka is Te Fiti without her heart.
Dependent Moana asked help from ocean to go to Maui. She also asked help from Maui when the heart was stolen by the little coconut people but Maui didn’t want to help. She also cried when Maui left because Maui was supposed to return Te Fiti’s heart.
Heroine of the Story Moana was the one who saved Maui from Tamatoa. She was able to deliver Maui across the great sea. She also helped him shapeshift again. As Moana and Maui fought their way to Te Fitti through Te Ka, she was the one who was able to save her people, their islands, and Te Fiti. She didn’t need any prince or anyone to save her. She actually fixed Maui’s mistakes by restoring Te Fiti’s heart. She was not completely a “damsel in distress.” She freed her people from their islands, giving them the freedom to be voyagers again.
Knows who she is Moana repeats that she is Moana of Motonui to herself many times. She said that she is the daughter of the village chief and that she loves island and sea. She also indicated that she is an ancestor of voyagers and way finders.
Religious Moana bowed to Te Fiti, a goddess.