delphipsmith: (queenie)
[personal profile] delphipsmith
We went out for dinner with some friends last night (mmmm, seared ahi tuna...) and while yakking about this and that, B. pointed out something I'd never noticed before. Not one of the Disney princesses has a mother. She said that that's why, in the new live-action Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson, they added a sort of "vision" of the past where Belle has a chance to see her mother and learn what happened to her.

Of course, given that the Disney princess stories generally draw on fairy tales, and girls don't often have mothers in the fairy tales either, perhaps it's not so weird. But even the non-fairy tale ones -- Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Pocahontas, Jasmine (Aladdin), Elsa and Anna (Frozen) -- don't have mothers.

The only two exceptions I could think of are Merida (the red-haired Irish girl who wins her own hand at the archery tournament) and Mulan (the Chinese girl who learns fighting from her father and goes off to war). So basically the only ones that have mothers are the ones who apparently don't need mothers because they're off doing "boy" things.

Isn't that weird?

Date: 2017-04-03 10:21 pm (UTC)
kelly_chambliss: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kelly_chambliss
Very typical of children's stories of all sorts -- "orphan fiction" was a really popular genre in the 19th century for both children's and adult books (and continued it the 20th and even now). Part of it was realistic, of course -- kids' parents did die, especially mothers in childbirth. And part of it is the demands of the stories: a lot of the adventures couldn't have happened if the protagonists' mothers had been watching over them and stopping them from doing reckless things. And surely part of it is thematic, too: so many of these books are about young people, often girls, coming into their own sense of identity, moving into their own subject positions, shaping their own understandings of gender. So for psychological reasons, they need to "kill" the mother. Even when the mothers are alive, they are often removed from the action or are ineffectual or overworked or ill or something. (Katniss's mother in Hunger Games comes to mind most recently.)

Just as interesting, imo, are the stories in which the mother is very present -- but that's another whole post.

(Not that I'm telling you anything you don't already know, madam librarian! /g/)

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