Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/15024
It is hard to ignore the popularity of the Disney Princess franchise these days. Beginning with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, it now includes Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana and Rapunzel. This essay attempts to show how gender identity in the Disney princess animations still conforms to outmoded patriarchal values. To critique the franchise and its ideology, this essay employs Hélène Cixous’s concept of ‘patriarchal binary’ to reveal how often Disney animations simplify and/or disempower the above-mentioned heroines. It examines how the Brothers Grimm and then Disney adapted the fairy tales so to conform better into the patriarchal society of their times and in what ways the Snow White model has persisted in spite of seventy years of rethinking gender roles and models. The essay then delves deeper into the gender identity of the princesses, witches, and heroes in these tales and shows how they are stereotyped in all Disney princess animations. Lastly, it turns to the film Tangled, which tells the story of Rapunzel, the latest Disney Princess animation, and compares it to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in an attempt to assess what changes, if any, have taken place. In conclusion, it shows that while the portrayal of princesses has improved in some respects and that male characters have become more prominent in the Disney princess animations, the overall view of women is still largely patriarchal. The portrayal of the witch together with the absences of a mother figure in the animations still underlines the central premise that women are discouraged from being in the positions of power.
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