Blog Post 13a: The Politics of marriage in Disney Princess films (pt drei)   7 comments

Pocahontas (1995)

Pocahontas holds the record for Disney Princess with the most publicity photos of her hair blowing randomly, the most geometrical face, and also the least amount of marriages. She does, however, follow a long Disney tradition of not having a nose.

She gets married in the sequel, to the man she married in real life, John Rolfe.

I’m not going to lie: the only Disney sequel I’ve ever seen was a sequel to The Little Mermaid, which I think was called The Littler Mermaid but I’m probably wrong (it was Return to the Sea). According to the Wikipedia synopsis, John Rolfe and Pocahontas fall in love while she acts as ambassador to England, trying to prevent a war between the Powhatan tribe and England; hijinx ensue, lessons are learned, Ratcliffe is a jerk, etc. The love story between John Smith and Pocahontas is not forgotten, but apparently the story ends with Pocahontas saying that it’s time to move on.

In real life, Pocahontas and John Rolfe met on April 5, 1614, when she was about 19, and he was 39. He was a tobacco farmer, looking to introduce Spanish tobacco into the area. She was a Powhatan princess. They were married (his second marriage), she was baptized, given the Christian name “Rebecca”, and eventually had a son, Thomas. Unlike in the Direct-to-Video sequel, she was received as royalty on her trip to England. So she was viewed as a princess, and she married a tobacco farmer? Hm.

Mulan (1998)

Now wait a second! Mulan also doesn’t get married at the end of her movie! Did Disney go through a weird period of deciding that marriage does not, in fact, make one a happy and complete person? No wait, according to Wikipedia, she and Shang got married at the end of the second movie. Hey, that’s faster than Jazmine, who waited three movies to get married.

Hijinx ensued before Mulan and Shang got married. Not just the cross-dressing part, or the extremely short war against the Hun/Xiongnu, but also in the sequel, where they have to escort three princesses to their arranged politcally-advantageous marriages. Unfortunately, the three princesses fall in love with Moe, Larry, and Curly on their way to the wedding.


Mulan and Shang make sense. In that time period in China, the gentry was split between military families and gentleman scholars, who pursued painting and calligraphy. Mulan and Shang are both from prominent military families; it makes sense for them to marry. But Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po are conscripted men — peasants, most likely, whose military service is a form of taxation. While it’s noble to marry for love, it’s hard to stay in love when you’re so far down the totem pole your father-in-law could have you executed in the square, and no one would care. Their lady loves can read, write, maintain family accounts, and have been trained as international ambassadors and diplomats since they could talk. The three stooges can bring in a crop, maintain mulberry trees, and count on their fingers. They come from such opposite worlds, I can’t even see their love lasting, much less being allowed in the first place.

Even in the sense that “opposites attract”, there’s usually an underlying sameness that keeps two people together. A liberal and a conservative can find love, if they steer clear of politics and expect the same sort of house and future. A city boy and a country girl can love for a lifetime, if they find time for each other’s worlds and keep their perspectives voiced. But Yao, Ling, and Chien-Po need women who can weave, cook, and till, while the three princesses need someone who can provide servants to do all that. I just don’t see it working for them.

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Disney covered all their bases with this one. Yes, a poor black girl from New Orleans married a prince, like a real prince kind of prince.

Who wouldn’t?

It’s stated in the movie that Prince Naveen such a hopeless layabout, constantly spending his cash and causing political scandals, that his parents have cut him off from money and political interests, in favor of his little brother.

Who may be starting on some scandals of his own pretty soon

So essentially he’s royalty enough to magically make poor girls into princesses when they get married, but not royal enough for the secular world, so he can kick back and help Tiana run her restaurant without worrying about the rate of taxation in Maldovia.

A princess in name only, in other words.

Posted April 23, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

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7 responses to “Blog Post 13a: The Politics of marriage in Disney Princess films (pt drei)

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  1. Very interesting.

  2. When you break down the Disney role of a princess like that it only adds to the inaccuracies of their story. I find it funny that they don’t have a princess who spends all her time planning out her country’s future and has no time for love life until her parents or cabinet members decide it would be adventitious of her to marry another nations prince. Though, i suppose that wouldn’t make a very good love story but my point is that they really never consider the ramifications of marrying lower class that come with being a real prince or princess.
    I also want to mention that in Lion King there were many female lions in the pride and only Mufasa and Scar were males… leaving Simba and Nala to be step siblings and later to become the “king” and “queen” of the pride…

    • That would be called “Every Romantic Comedy since like 1970”, only she’s a princess instead of some sort of white-collar executive in a vague office. The princess and the princess would still find love, after an hour and a half of hijinx and hilarious misunderstandings, and even a break-up at the end of the second act. Then they’d realize they were meant to be after all.

      I had never, ever thought about Simba and Nala being half-siblings, and now I’m going to hide my head under my pillow and pretend everything is well with the world again.

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  4. i totally cracked up when you mentioned aladdin’s and jasmine’s wedding taking so long. not to mention there was a whole series in between that. its good point you bring up tho. these sequels all deal with marriage of some type. it shows how dependent these movies are on this trope.

  5. Pingback: Comment Catch Up: The Sequel « Animated Thinkings

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