My husband and I were sitting around on Sunday having a ‘lazy’ day (we both had the flu!) and so we rented some movies for the kids. Typical movies from Disney are the kids favourites (we have a large collection) and we rented and started watching Chicken Little.
Somewhere in the haze of my fever I noticed that Chicken Little doesn’t have a mother, she had passed away. I am not sure if it was the flu, the un-characteristically quiet day or just an epiphany, but that spiraled into a montage in my head of all the Disney movies where the mother of the main character has died and they are without a mother figure at all or worse – an evil stepmother.
I turned to my husband and mentioned to him my thought; that many of the Disney movie characters have had their mother pass away or just not around. He dared me to mention 5 more and the list unfolded:
Mother passed away when she was just young – her father re-married an ‘evil stepmother’ who forced her to be a maid. Also in Cinderella III we learn that Prince Charming’s mother has also passed away.
Mother passed away when she was young also and was raised by her ‘evil stepmother’ who tried to kill her.
Princess Jasmin’s mother is no longer alive and she is raised solely by her father. Aladdin also has no parents.
Beauty and the Beast
Belle is raised only by her father.
Ariel’s mother is no longer in the picture – she is raised only by King Triton
Aurora is a bit different. Her mother and father are both alive, but she is raised by three women. She is not raised by her mother though and is lead to believe her mother is not alive. Her prince in the movie, Prince Philip, is also without his mother.
Pocahontas does not have her mother in the film
either. She is only raised by her father the Chief.
Now, what is particularly troubling about this list is that these are all but 2 of the Disney Princess
characters – and all of these are without their mother. Mulan has both of her parents, however you see her father and grandfather taking more of a role in the movie. Princess Tiana is raised only by her mother without a father in the picture.
The theme continues on as you get into the animal themed Disney movies:
Nemo’s mother dies at the beginning of the film
leaving him to be raised by his father Marlin
Bambi’s mother is killed at the end of the movie
(yes he is raised by his mom but he is still left without her at a young age).
Dumbo is taken away from his mother at the start of the movie
and spends the rest of his time with his sidekick until he is reunited at the end.
Chicken Little is without
his mother and is raised by his father. He has no close female in his life.
Remy the mouse in Ratatouille
is only being raised by his father who he feels no connection to. He has no close female role model in his life either.
I grew up watching all the Disney Princess classics and never noticed this connection before. I know there are a lot of debates on the effect Disney Princess has on young girls and the ‘complex’ they can acquire because of the merchandise. The belief that a Prince Charming will come by on his horse and save you from your difficult life. I am wondering what is the more harmful message – that we need a Prince to save us or the imagery that there are no positive mothering figures in most of these movies?
I was shocked that I was not only able to quickly name 5 movies with the ‘no-mother theme’ but actually named 12 movies and didn’t need to struggle. I am sure there are more out there with a similar theme by Disney (this list is not even counting the movies where the character has neither parent) and I am kind of left wondering if there is some kind of underlying ‘mother issue’ within the Disney movies?
What are your thoughts? Do you think this has some form of impact on our young girls and boys?
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