Strong Female Characters

Strong Female Characters: Fa Mulan

For those of you that don’t know, Mulan is the leading lady of the 1998 Disney film, Mulan. Based on an old Chinese legend, the plot follows a young girl whose elderly father is conscripted into the Chinese army – so she takes his place, kicks some butt and ends up saving China from the fictional equivalent of Genghis Khan. The film was a critical success, spawning endless merchandise and the obligatory terrible direct-to-video sequel, and Mulan herself was at the centre of all this.

But does she measure up to the hype? Let’s find out GET DOWN TO BUSINESS!

Watch out for spoilers!

 

NOTE: I will be basing my review on the Disney movie, not the original Chinese legend, as I’m much more familiar with this. I’m aware that the two are very different, though, so I may choose to look at the legend in a separate post some point in the future.

 

 

  1. Does the character shape her own destiny? Does she actively try to change her situation and if not, why not?

Mulan is in control of her own destiny. Instead of letting her father fight she disguises herself as a man and takes his place, but even once she’s in the army she doesn’t just follow orders. She’s constantly using her brains to try and take control of her life and the lives of others, whether that’s by dropping an avalanche on Genghis Khan Shan Yu or saving the Chinese Emperor’s life.

SCORE SO FAR: 1

 

  1. Does she have her own goals, beliefs and hobbies? Did she come up with them on her own?

We don’t hear much about Mulan’s hobbies but we do know what she doesn’t like: the kind of ladylike restrictions she’s forced to adhere to before she runs off to join the army. Her beliefs and goals are much clearer. She believes in the importance of family, even above the laws of China and decrees of the Emperor, and clearly doesn’t set a lot of store by gender roles. Her goals are to stop her father from fighting, survive in the Chinese army and to stop the Huns from taking over, not necessarily in that order.

SCORE SO FAR: 2

 

  1. Is her character consistent? Do her personality or skills change as the plot demands?

Mulan is a very consistent character. She’s brave, determined, intelligent, adapts very easily and is a little unconventional. We also see her skills develop, as she goes from bumbling idiot to a soldier to be reckoned with.

giphy-mulan
LIKE A BOSS. (image: giphy.com)

SCORE SO FAR: 3

 

  1. Can you describe her in one short sentence without mentioning her love life, her physical appearance, or the words ‘strong female character’?

A brave, determined young woman disguises herself as a man and enlists in the Chinese army to protect her family.

SCORE SO FAR: 4

 

  1. Does she make decisions that aren’t influenced by her love life?

Mulan doesn’t really have much of a love life. She has a massive crush on Captain Shang –

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Can’t imagine why… (image: pinterest.com)

– but it’s a subtle one, played more for laughs than romantic drama. It doesn’t affect a lot of her decisions, which are more influenced by her desire to save China. Of course, this isn’t the case in the sequel, which is more explicitly about Mulan and Shang’s relationship, but even then it doesn’t influence too many of her decisions. I’ll give her the point.

SCORE SO FAR: 5

 

  1. Does she develop over the course of the story?

Mulan doesn’t really develop much over the course of the story. Her overall arc in the film is more about staying true to herself and learning to accept her identity, so in this light it’s easy to see character change as a bad thing. Of course you could argue that Mulan learns to accept herself for who she really is, but when you see her at the beginning of the film she seems to be pretty comfortable with herself already. I’m withholding the point.

SCORE SO FAR: 5

 

  1. Does she have a weakness?

Mulan doesn’t have many weaknesses, but she does have a few. She’s a terrible liar, which is a serious drawback when she’s disguising herself as a man, and she’s also somewhat reckless, which puts her in real danger more than once. I’ll give her the point.

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No reason why this is here, I just really love this face she’s pulling. (image: tvtropes.com)

SCORE SO FAR: 6

 

  1. Does she influence the plot without getting captured or killed?

Mulan is a huge influence on the plot. Whether she’s sneaking into the Chinese army, blowing up a mountain or kicking Shan Yu in the face, Mulan drives the plot forward at every turn.

SCORE SO FAR: 7

 

  1. How does she relate to stereotypes about gender?

Mulan is very progressive when it comes to gender stereotypes. She’s an unconventional young woman who dresses as a man to join the Chinese army – you can’t exactly do that while acting like a delicate little flower.

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Do it! Faint for victory! (image: giphy.com)

She does fit into some of the stereotypes that I discussed in my post about Eowyn – namely, the idea that warrior women only join up because they have to, and they give it up at the first opportunity. But even then she doesn’t fit in with all of them. She does join up because it’s the only way to stop her father being drafted, but she doesn’t give it up at the first opportunity – while she does walk away from a cushy government job at the end of the first film, in the sequel she’s still a badass warrior.

SCORE SO FAR: 8

 

  1. How does she relate to other female characters?

Mulan has quite a few relationships with other female characters, particularly if you count the sequel. She’s close with both her mother and grandmother, although it seems like her grandmother is more supportive. She clearly feels like she doesn’t fit in with the rest of the girls in her village and antagonises the matchmaker, despite her best efforts to cheat her way through the meeting. In the sequel she befriends three princesses and helps them escape an arranged marriage, and is idolised by many of the young girls in her village. That’s plenty of relationships, so she definitely passes this round.

FINAL SCORE: 9/10

 

Mulan is a well-rounded character who’s in control of her own destiny, isn’t dependent on gender stereotypes and has a set of clearly defined strengths, weaknesses, goals and beliefs. She may not develop all that much but that definitely isn’t enough to stop her from passing my test.

Next week, I’ll be looking at another American classic – Gone With the Wind. Scarlett O’Hara, I’m coming for you.

 

And if you’re looking for all my posts on Strong Female Characters, you can find them here.

Strong Female Characters

Strong Female Characters: Esmeralda

For those of you that don’t know, Esmeralda is the leading lady of Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel, Notre-Dame de Paris – or as it’s more widely known, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Set in Medieval Paris, the novel centres around Esmeralda, a beautiful Romani girl, and the various men who obsess over her – and like any Victor Hugo novel it also crams in a lot of stuff about sacrifice, racism, architecture, passion, faith, hypocrisy and yet more architecture. The book has been an enormous success, adapted for a range of different audiences, and Esmeralda herself has been at the centre of pretty much every single version.

But does she measure up to the hype? Let’s find out – but watch out for spoilers!

 

NOTE: Once again I’ll be focusing on the original Victor Hugo novel, but I may reference other adaptations from time to time.

 

  1. Does the character shape her own destiny? Does she actively try to change her situation and if not, why not?

In pretty much every single version of the story Esmeralda isn’t really in control of what’s happening to her, and that’s because so much of the plot is just other people falling in love with her. She is just rolling along doing her own thing, and then BAM! A creepy priest guy is trying to kidnap/rape her, a random soldier guy is trying to talk her into bed, people are accusing her of witchcraft and Quasimodo drags her off to Notre Dame for her own safety.

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Seems legit… (image: thecinematicpackrat.wordpress.com)

She does try and mitigate this a little bit. In the novel, when Gringoire breaks into the Romani encampment she agrees to marry him, thereby saving his life. She goes to Phoebus and tries to start a relationship with him – but in most adaptations that backfires horrifically. She chooses the possibility of death over Frollo’s weird molesty offer. But there’s no getting away from the fact that Esmeralda is reacting to a series of options put in front of her, rather than truly making her own choices. She does have an opportunity to make choices for herself, but these choices were engineered by other people. I’ll give her half a point.

SCORE SO FAR: 0.5

 

  1. Does she have her own goals, beliefs and hobbies? Did she come up with them on her own?

Esmeralda’s hobbies aren’t really mentioned. We know she’s a dancer, but it’s not 100% clear if this is because she actually enjoys it or because that’s all she can do to make enough money to live on.

Her beliefs and goals are clearer. In pretty much every adaptation it’s made very clear that Esmeralda tries to be a good person despite her circumstances – like most of the other gypsies she is very poor, and something of a social outcast. It would be easy for her to internalise this and become quite bitter after the way she’s treated, but Esmeralda quite clearly believes that being a good person is more important. This ties into her goals – she wants to alleviate what suffering she can (by marrying Gringoire and giving Quasimodo water), to stay as far away from Frollo as she possibly can, and to have a happy life with Phoebus – but that doesn’t always end well.

SCORE SO FAR: 1.5

 

  1. Is her character consistent? Do her personality or skills change as the plot demands?

For the most part Esmeralda is a pretty consistent character in terms of both her skills and personality. She’s kind, naïve, brave, compassionate and occasionally quite stubborn and defiant, and this remains the case throughout the book. In terms of her skills we know that she’s an excellent dancer and street performer, and it can also be assumed that she’s good at training animals, as she’s got this little goat that follows her everywhere and does cute little magic tricks.

SCORE SO FAR: 2.5

 

  1. Can you describe her in one short sentence without mentioning her love life, her physical appearance, or the words ‘strong female character’?

Unfortunately, you really can’t describe Esmeralda without referencing her love life or her appearance as it’s so tied into her role in the story. The entire novel pivots around her physical beauty and the men who admire her – take that out and there’s no plot at all, just a lot of stuff about architecture.

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Look, I like a good facade as much as the next nerd, but can we please get back to the murder trial? (image: notredamedeparis.fr)

SCORE SO FAR: 2.5

 

  1. Does she make decisions that aren’t influenced by her love life?

No.

Esmeralda’s decisions are all directly linked to her love life. She marries Gringoire to save his life, but won’t touch him as she’s in love with Phoebus. She agrees to meet Phoebus for a secret date, even though he’s engaged – but this is largely because Phoebus has manipulated her into believing he loves her. She turns both Frollo and Quasimodo down repeatedly, and spends most of the book reacting to their various advances.

Esmeralda’s love life is completely central to the plot. The conflict of the novel is essentially about who she will or will not sleep with, and as she has no other significant goals she doesn’t really get to make decisions about anything else. What’s more, she actually has very little control over her own love life. Phoebus manipulates her and often ignores her objections, Quasimodo kidnaps her and tries to wear her down with kindness, and Frollo just straight-up tries to rape her, obsessing over her creepily for several months, orchestrating a few kidnap attempts, accusing her of witchcraft and actively causing her torture and death when she turns him down. And she’s sixteen years old. Will none of them leave this poor girl alone??

frollo-pretty-bad-guy-so-spoopy-png-248202
Fun fact: some people actually fancy this man. (image: moviepilot.com)

To sum up: Esmeralda’s story is directly linked to her choice of boyfriend – and she doesn’t even have all that much choice. There’s no way she’s passing this round.

SCORE SO FAR: 2.5

 

  1. Does she develop over the course of the story?

Not really, no. Esmeralda’s actually a pretty static character. She is good and kind when the novel begins and good and kind when it ends – only when it ends she’s also dead. She learns nothing as the story goes on and doesn’t change her views at all. This is actually very surprising when you consider how much she’s been through – attempted kidnapping, framed for attempted murder, torture, escaped execution and attempted rape.

There’s one scene towards the end of the novel that really drives this home for me. Esmeralda has escaped execution and is living under sanctuary in Notre Dame, thanks to Quasimodo. She knows that Phoebus, who could have cleared her name at her trial, has done nothing to save her – but she still loves him. Quasimodo, who loves her too, makes a point of this by showing her two vases full of flowers – one ugly but whole pot, and one crystal vase that is beautiful but cracked, allowing the water to leak out. As you might expect the flowers in the manky pot are thriving, and the ones in the crystal vase are dead. They both know that the pots represent Esmeralda’s potential boyfriends – Quasimodo being the pot and Phoebus being the vase – and that it’s all a metaphor for how they are treating her. But Esmeralda still cherishes the dead flowers, completely unable to reconcile her love for Phoebus with his terrible betrayal.

This makes the static nature of Esmeralda’s character very clear. She does not learn or grow from her experiences even though they have caused her very serious harm. Of course you could argue that her character is meant to be static – she’s supposed to represent an inherently good person resisting the pressures of poverty and ostracisation – but I’d argue that it’s very possible to remain a good person while learning to recognise a situation that is no good for you.

SCORE SO FAR: 2.5

 

  1. Does she have a weakness?

Esmeralda does have flaws and her biggest by far is her inability to change her own viewpoint. We see this in her continued rejection of Quasimodo and her blind devotion to Phoebus – she’s simply unable to see how her own resistance to change is doing her harm. I’ll give her the point.

SCORE SO FAR: 3.5

 

  1. Does she influence the plot without getting captured or killed?

Actually, not really. Esmeralda gets captured a lot and this is what drives the events of the plot forward. When you take out all the kidnapping attempts the only other kind of influence she has is her status as an A-grade hottie. I’m withholding the point.

giphy-esmeralda
No amount of winking is going to fix this, love. (image: giphy.com)

SCORE SO FAR: 3.5

 

  1. How does she relate to stereotypes about gender?

Esmeralda conforms to several different gender stereotypes and inverts some of the others – she’s quite a complicated character in this regard. What really causes this is the intersection of two different parts of her identity – Esmeralda as a woman, and Esmeralda as a Romani.

If you look at Esmeralda as a woman, without bringing any aspect of racial or ethnic identity into your analysis, it’s easy to see her as a very traditional character. She’s a young, beautiful, innocent girl who does very little, holds onto her virtue as best she can, and dies a tragic death. This is a stock character we’ve seen since time began. Even when you add in her passionate affair with Phoebus – where he seduces her, allows her to take the blame for his attempted murder and ultimately hands her over to be executed – this still isn’t anything particularly new. The story of the beautiful, innocent girl seduced and brought into trouble is as old as time itself, and it fits Esmeralda perfectly.

Where she starts to get a bit more subversive is when you look at Esmeralda as a Romani. There aren’t many sympathetic portrayals of Romani and Travellers in fiction – of course things have gotten better as cultural ideas have developed, but there’s no getting away from the fact that itinerant peoples have historically been portrayed as vagrants, thieves and worse. Cher even sang a song about it.

 

Hunchback is one of the few stories that has a very sympathetic Romani lead, and the fact that it was written in the nineteenth century makes it even more unusual. Hugo goes to some lengths to avoid Romani stereotypes – for example, Esmeralda is accused of witchcraft but it’s made perfectly clear to the reader that she has never meddled in magic, subverting the centuries-old stereotype of the ‘magical fortune-teller’. But what really makes Hugo’s portrayal of Esmeralda noteworthy is the sheer lengths he goes to to establish her purity, virtue and innocence. Romani women were (and in some places, still are) widely stereotyped as being quite promiscuous, so the fact that Hugo went to such lengths to convey Esmeralda’s purity is actually pretty ground-breaking, especially if you consider when it was written. This is a direct subversion of a trope that has plagued Romani women for centuries and it deserves to be noted.

However, this isn’t exactly the revolutionary portrayal I was hoping for. As a Romani woman, Esmeralda is still exoticised to a ridiculous extent, both by the other characters and by Hugo himself. When you read through all the long, loving descriptions of her exotic beauty, passionate nature and sensual movements it’s pretty clear that she’s being fetishized. She’s seen as a sexual being whether she wants to be or not – and most of the time, she doesn’t want that. And of course, this is further undercut at the end of the novel, when we discover that Esmeralda is not actually Romani by birth, but a French girl who was kidnapped as a baby – another old stereotype about the Romani which I could really do without.

Long story short, you can’t really separate out the different pieces of Esmeralda’s identity – you have to talk about her racial and gender identity together, as they both have an effect on how she is treated. All of the stereotypes that inform her character (both ethnic and gendered) interact in pretty complicated ways, being pretty backward and pretty progressive at the same time, but in different ways. I’m going to give her half a point, as I feel that would best represent this weird balancing act, but I can’t help feeling I’m being generous.

SCORE SO FAR: 4

 

  1. How does she relate to other female characters?

Esmeralda doesn’t have many relationships with other female characters – there’s really only two that are worth noting. There’s Fleur-de-Lis, Phoebus’s fiancé: the two girls are jealous of each other (Fleur-de-Lis because Esmeralda is prettier than her, Esmeralda because Fleur-de-Lis is engaged to Phoebus) and that’s about it. The other relationship Esmeralda has is with Gudule, a random woman who hates Esmeralda because she believes Romani stole and ate her baby – who of course, turns out to be Esmeralda’s mother. Neither of these relationships have any real depth and both are sketched along some pretty broad lines, so I’ll give half a point here.

FINAL SCORE: 4.5/10

 

Esmeralda is a consistent character with her own goals and beliefs and a weakness that holds her back but ultimately, that isn’t enough to let her pass my test. When you get right down to it she just doesn’t do anything for herself. Later adaptations have tried to mitigate this by making her more active, but at the heart of Hunchback is a story about three men trying to possess a young woman, regardless of what she thinks of this. There is no part of her story that is separate from this, so she’s never going to pass.

Next week, I’ll be going back to the work of one of my favourite authors – Neil Gaiman. Door, I’m coming for you.

 

And if you’re looking for all my posts on Strong Female Characters, you can find them here.

Strong Female Characters

Strong Female Characters: Alice

For those of you that don’t know, Alice is the main character of Lewis Carroll’s classic book, Alice in Wonderland. The story starts when a little girl follows a talking rabbit into a place called Wonderland and from thereon in it just gets really, really weird. All sorts of shenanigans ensue, mainly as the result of Alice eating whatever’s lying around and trying to force various talking animals to adhere to some kind of logic. It ends happily when Alice escapes a beheading (but wouldn’t that put anyone in a good mood?) and continues along the same strange, strange lines in the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass.

Unlike a lot of the other comparison posts I’ve done so far, Alice in Wonderland has a clear source – Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel. But much like Dracula and my post on Mina Harker, this doesn’t mean that there’s only one version of the story. Even though it was published fairly recently (I mean, when you compare it to all the fairy tales) the story has made a massive impact.

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass have had a massive impact on the popular consciousness. There are millions of adaptations and new editions of the story, covering everything from films, TV programmes, musicals, cartoons, comic books, video games, operas, and an incredible amount of visual art. And that’s not even mentioning the enormous range of stories that use elements of the story in smaller ways – and that can be seen in anything from anime to The Matrix.

MatrixTrinity
But the less said about that, the better. (image: wikipedia.org)

 

But despite all these countless Alice in Wonderland adaptations and re-tellings, I’m only going to look at six, because I’ve occasionally got to do things like eat and sleep.

Let’s get started – but watch out for spoilers!

 

 

image: jilt.colorado.edu

In the original version Alice is very much a key player – it’s her name in the title, after all. What’s unusual is that unlike a lot of other Victorian heroines, it’s her actions that set the story in motion when she goes down the rabbit hole, so she’s much more in control of her own destiny. Her goals tie into the story but her beliefs are more solid – she puts a lot of emphasis on logical thought, for instance, which often results in conflict with the inhabitants of Wonderland.

She’s a little bit of a generic Victorian child character but she is consistently so. It’s completely possible to describe her without referencing her appearance, love life or the words ‘Strong Female Character’ because her story doesn’t really touch on any of these things. She also doesn’t have a love life, as she’s seven years old.

She doesn’t develop over the course of the story and she doesn’t really have a weakness that holds her back – while she doesn’t adapt well to Wonderland’s weirdness that doesn’t have any lasting consequences, and her inability to foresee the consequences of her actions can hardly count as a character defect in a seven-year-old child. However, she is a strong influence on the plot and while she is a little generic, the fact that she actually gets to do quite a lot undercuts some of the gender stereotypes at play here. She doesn’t really have many significant relationships with other female characters, but there is at least more than one. Overall, she’s a lot better than most heroines of her day and age.

giphy-yaay
Yay for feminism! (image: giphy.com)

FINAL SCORE: 7.5/10

 

 

image: warwickartscentre.com

This animated adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s works is definitely one of the most well-known – and that’s largely thanks to Disney. This version takes elements of both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and combines them to make a brightly coloured, nonsensical film that, if I’m honest, still creeps me out a little.

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Mostly because of the walrus. (image: giphy.com)

Much of what can be said about the original books still applies to this version – it’s not a strictly faithful adaptation but remains true to the general spirit of the novels. Alice is still in control of her own destiny and still has clear goals and beliefs. She’s a little generic, doesn’t have a love life, and can be defined without referencing her appearance, boyfriends or the words ‘Strong Female Character’.

She doesn’t really develop much – Disney tries to shoehorn in a lesson about the importance of home, but this is all slightly undercut when Alice wakes up to discover it was all just a really weird dream. She doesn’t have a weakness but she is still an active character, and much like in the original novel this softens the impact of some of the traditional gender stereotypes she dabbles in. She has even fewer relationships with other female characters – mainly just her sister and the Queen of Hearts – and these are sketched along the broadest of lines with no real depth.

FINAL SCORE: 7/10

 

 

image: sffbookreview.wordpress.com

And now we come to the inevitable YA adaptation. In The Looking Glass Wars, Wonderland is an alternate universe where people can quite literally imagine the stuff they want out of thin air. When it’s taken over by the evil Queen Redd, the rightful heir to the throne (Princess Alyss) escapes into our world – but eventually has to return to cast Redd out and take her place as queen.

Obviously this is a very different story to Carroll’s original. What’s most noticeable is that Alyss doesn’t have anywhere near the same amount of control over her life as the original version does – throughout the trilogy she’s reacting to the villains, not doing stuff on her own. Her goals and beliefs are clear: she wants to defeat the villains and believes that the power of imagination should only be used for good – something the novel refers to as ‘White Imagination’ and is an important part of the plot. Alyss is also consistently brave, determined and kind (albeit a little generic), and it is possible to describe her without referencing her love life, appearance, or the words ‘Strong Female Character’.

Her love life is a feature of the story but it doesn’t affect most of her decisions – she’s more preoccupied with defeating Redd. She’s also a strong influence on the plot. However, she doesn’t really develop over the course of the story and she doesn’t really have a weakness – the things she has to overcome are either a direct result of the villains’ actions or the adjustment period after spending ten years in a world with no tangible manifestation of imagination.

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But the less said about that, the better. (image: wikipedia.org)

When it comes to gender stereotypes she’s a bit of a mixed bag – she does need rescuing a fair few times but on the other hand she is a strong and competent ruler, which is all the more important as this version of Wonderland is actually a matriarchy. She also has plenty of relationships with other female characters, all of which are different in their own ways.

FINAL SCORE: 7/10

 

 

image: mr-movie.com

Alice in Wonderland is notorious for gritty and dark remakes. There are several retellings of the story that really turn up the scary dial, so that what was only mildly unsettling in Lewis Carroll’s original becomes utterly and completely horrifying. This version of the story is set in a gritty urban jungle and centres around Alice – in this case, a missing American heiress who lost her memory – trying to get her memory back while on the run from various creepy criminals. I chose this one in particular because I wanted to look at an adaptation that really leaned in to all the creepy stuff and made an effort to put the story in a completely different setting.

I have never regretted anything more.

This film – aside from being an hour and a half of my life that I’m never going to get back – is an absolute trainwreck. It’s style over substance taken to ridiculous lengths, with little to no coherent plot and characters that have all the personality of those flat, cardboard celebrity masks. Alice is no exception.

She is utterly and completely useless. She spends the whole film running away from people, sitting around, and taking a bunch of drugs because a random cab driver told her to. She wants to regain her memory and run off with Danny Dyer but that’s all there is to her. She has no personality whatsoever, can’t go two minutes without someone talking about how pretty she is, and makes absolutely no decisions of her own. That’s because in the course of eighty-seven minutes, she gets kidnapped SIX TIMES.

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I mean REALLY. (image: giphy.com)

She doesn’t develop over the course of the story because in order to do that she’d have to have a personality to begin with. She has no weaknesses unless you’re going to count her total and utter lack of common sense, self-preservation skills and personality. She influences the plot just by being in it, never once making any decisions for herself, and when it comes to gender stereotypes she is the definition of the damsel in distress. She talks to two or three other female characters but the conversations she has with them leave absolutely no impact – she talks, she leaves, and she forgets them.

I did actually toy with the idea of putting up my notes for this film, just so you could all see how much I suffered, but when I realised they were about forty percent swearing I decided against it. It’s basically an unfunny version of this sketch, with a couple of vague Lewis Carroll references shoved in:

All I’ll say is this: life is short, don’t waste your time.

FINAL SCORE: 0.5/10

 

 

image: library.creativecow.net

Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland is a fairly standard reboot – things are made darker, weirder and generally more unsettling, with a few big set-piece battles thrown in for good measure. Set when Alice has grown into a young woman, the first film deals with her return to Wonderland (called Underland, for some reason) and defeat of the Red Queen, and its sequel – Alice Through the Looking Glass – is about various misadventures with time travel.

In this version, Alice is a reasonably active character, whose actions have an affect on her life – although it’s worth mentioning that a lot of what she does has apparently been ‘foretold’, so that does raise a few questions about whether she or ~*Fate*~ is responsible for her own actions. Her goals and beliefs are clear – she’s very anti-establishment, and wants to defeat the Red Queen – and for the most part she’s a consistent, if bland character. You can describe her without referencing her love life, appearance, or the words ‘Strong Female Character’, and as far as her love life actually goes, she doesn’t really have one.

She develops over the course of the first film, where she comes to terms with her weird experiences in Underland, but not in the second. She does have a weakness – she tries to avoid making decisions all the time, but this isn’t quite as prevalent in the second film. She’s a huge influence on the plot, has loads of different relationships with other female characters, and when it comes to gender stereotypes, she’s a character who has quite clearly been designed to subvert them. I didn’t really like her or the films all that much (I found them a bit bland, which takes effort when you’re working with material like Alice in Wonderland) but it’s quite clear that a lot of thought has been put into making her an active and balanced character.

FINAL SCORE: 9.5/10

 

 

image: onceuponatime.wikia.com

Once Upon a Time has become a regular feature of my comparison posts – mainly because the show’s creators are determined to shoehorn in every single public domain character they can think of. Alice is no exception. She’s the star of this spin-off series set within the broad, broad confines of the Once Upon a Time universe, which starts off when Alice – who’s been confined to an asylum after talking about her experiences in Wonderland – decides to prove her sanity by going back to Wonderland and returning with proof.

In this version Alice is a very active character – she puts herself on her quest and decides how she’s going to accomplish her goals. Speaking of which these are pretty clear: she wants to get her father to believe she’s sane, get her boyfriend back and defeat the Red Queen (and Jafar, who’s in this for some reason). She’s a pretty consistent character who isn’t dependent on her love life, appearance or her identity as a ‘Strong Female Character’. She does make decisions that aren’t influenced by her love life, but it has to be said that her boyfriend is a huge part of her motivation.

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He’s not even Ryan Gosling. (image: newnownext.com)

She doesn’t really develop or have much of a weakness, but she is a strong influence on the plot. When it comes to gender stereotypes she’s another one on the fence – she does quite a lot of untraditional things, but at the end of the day it all comes down to trying to get back her boyfriend. However, she does have loads of different relationships with other female characters which change over the course of the series.

FINAL SCORE: 7/10

 

 

And that’s my analysis of the various incarnations of Alice in Wonderland! It’s worth noting that unlike a lot of more traditional fairy tales, adaptations of the various Alice books tend to give the heroine a lot more to do – and I think that’s down to the very unconventional nature of the original book. There’s much higher scores across the board – without mentioning that soul-crushing uselessness vortex I can’t wait to forget about – and I think that really brings home the benefits of a more unconventional story.

Next week I’ll be back to my usual format and looking at an old favourite: The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Esmerelda, I’m coming for you.

 

And if you’re looking for all my posts on Strong Female Characters, you can find them here.

Strong Female Characters

Strong Female Characters: Sleeping Beauty

For those of you that don’t know, Sleeping Beauty is the story of a beautiful princess who, when cursed by an evil fairy, pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and falls into what is basically a magical coma. She lies around snoozing for a little bit – some say for a few months, some say for a hundred years – she is woken by a kiss from a prince, who conveniently happens to be her one true love, and they live happily ever after.

Much like Snow White, the story seems to have popped up in the early Medieval period, when making out with unconscious women was less of a red flag. Rather than being based on a real person, the story seems to have come out of an old Arthurian legend – but that’s a blog post for another time. The story spread across Europe like nobody’s business, and before long multiple versions popped up in pretty much every country on the continent.

The story has gone on to become hugely influential. The most popular version of the story is the one made known by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, but the story has gone on to be one of the most well-known in the world. Sleeping Beauty has been adapted into films, poems, operas, musicals, a ballet, edgy YA re-tellings, TV shows, satire, anime and computer games – and, bizarrely, for Anne Rice’s brief jaunt into erotica.

There’s thousands of versions of the Sleeping Beauty story – but I’m only going to look at six. I’ll be looking at each variation of the story and seeing how it measures up to my Strong Female Characters test.

Let’s get started – but watch out for spoilers!

 

 

image: pinterest.com

This version of the fairy tale is widely accepted as the basis for Perrault and the brothers Grimm’s child-friendly re-telling. The ‘sleeping beauty’ in this story is called Talia, and when she’s born her horoscope says she’ll die from a splinter, and because horoscopes are always completely and utterly infallible, this is exactly what happens. She falls into a deep sleep and is left in her house – only for a passing king to break in, rape her, and leave her to give birth to twins nine months later. The twins wake her up and she ends up trying to marry the king – but he already has a wife, who tries to feed Talia and her children to a BUCKET FULL OF SNAKES. Of course this doesn’t work, the wife is executed, and Talia and King Rapist live happily ever after (for want of a better term).

Talia has absolutely no control over her life in this version, doing absolutely nothing for herself. No hobbies, goals or beliefs she has are even mentioned and in fact, her personality is never discussed either – she’s a completely empty vessel. Her entire trajectory through the story depends on her beauty and her relationship to the king, and don’t even get me started on him. Talia doesn’t get to make any decisions about her love life because her ‘Prince Charming’ just flat out rapes her while she’s unconscious, and then brings her back to his castle to be his live-in side piece.

giphy ian
Would you, Sir Ian? (image: giphy.com)

She doesn’t develop over the course of the story and she doesn’t have any weaknesses – but that’s because she doesn’t have a personality to begin with. The most she manages to do to influence the blog is get a splinter and drag out the bucket-full-of-snakes incident long enough for the king to rescue her but frankly, that’s scraping the bottom of the barrel. The only other female character she relates to is the king’s wife, who’s jealous of her beauty – we don’t see any other relationship with a female character, even though she has a daughter. She’s also an incredible step backwards for gender stereotypes because her entire story rests on the poisonous belief that rape was not a crime, and that it could lead to a strong and loving relationship between the rapist and their victim. She’s a woman-shaped receptacle in the story, filled with outdated stereotypes and frankly disgusting ideas, rather than a character with any kind of agency or personality.

FINAL SCORE: 0.5/10

 

 

image: wikimedia.org

The version by Charles Perrault is much more child-friendly, as it thankfully doesn’t include any rape. The story travels along broadly similar lines, although this time the young princess is cursed by a jealous fairy who wasn’t invited to her christening. Death is scaled back to a really long sleep, and when she pricks her finger, the castle is covered in thorns and everyone else falls asleep along with her. One hundred years later, along comes a handsome prince who thankfully just gives her a kiss instead of going full Game of Thrones, she wakes up and they get married. The jealous wife of the previous version is now an Ogress and a jealous mother-in-law, who tries to feed her own grandchildren to her son, but thankfully the prince puts a stop to that and everyone lives happily ever after.

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And at that point, their faces are permanently stuck like this. (image: pinterest.com)

The princess in this version still doesn’t have much agency, as everything depends on curses, princes and a jealous mother-in-law, but we do get a sense of her personality. She’s generically kind, good and innocent all through the story, but goals, hobbies and beliefs are never mentioned. You can’t talk about her without describing her physical appearance or kiss from the prince, she barely makes any decisions at all and those she does are mostly to do with her love life, and she neither develops nor exhibits a weakness.

She doesn’t really do a lot in the story at all – she’s rescued from the snake bucket by a kindly cook, and her pricking her finger is attributed to Fate rather than her own curiousity. Like Basile’s version, we only see her interact with the jealous Ogress/mother-in-law, and while this Sleeping Beauty doesn’t fall in love with her rapist she’s so passive and generic that she’s still a massive step backwards. All in all, she’s a pretty flat character.

FINAL SCORE: 1/10

 

 

image: dettoldisney.wordpress.com

The Disney version is probably the one that modern audiences are most familiar with. Drawing on the Grimm and Perrault versions but thankfully removing the part with the snake, this is pretty straightforward re-telling. The fairy Maleficent isn’t invited to the Princess Aurora’s christening and curses her to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. When the spell is softened to a sleep broken by true love’s kiss, she’s spirited away by three fairies to be raised in secret in the woods. She grows up and falls in love with the prince she’s supposed to marry, but when she’s taken back to the castle she pricks her finger anyway and falls asleep. The prince kills Maleficent, wakes up Aurora and they all live happily ever after.

Much like the original fairy tale, Aurora isn’t really in control of her own life – she’s led through the story by the curse and other characters. We don’t hear an awful lot about her goals, hobbies and beliefs, but we know she enjoys singing and wants to marry Prince Philip.

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No, not that one. (image: express.co.uk; Getty)

She’s consistently good, kind, sweet and innocent but can’t really be described without referencing her appearance or storyline with the prince. Her love life is actually the only thing she really wants for herself – she doesn’t appear to have any other goals or ambitions. She doesn’t develop, she doesn’t have a weakness, and she doesn’t influence the plot either. You could make a case that her falling in love with Philip is a force on the story, but it isn’t really – when she first meets him she doesn’t know she’s engaged to him, and when the fairies tell her she has to marry a prince (not realising she’s already met him) she instantly accepts that she has to marry him, even though she thinks she’ll be giving up her true love and making herself miserable.

She interacts a lot more with female characters – such as her mother, the three fairies and Maleficent – but these interactions aren’t given any detail. For example, even though they raised her, she barely differentiates between the three fairies. She doesn’t do much better in terms of gender stereotypes – she’s not much more than the stereotypical beautiful, kind and graceful princess. Long story short, she does a bit better than the original but she’s still an incredibly passive character.

FINAL SCORE: 2/10

 

 

image: harpercollins.com

Let’s fast forward to the nineties. This retelling of the traditional Sleeping Beauty story keeps a lot of the classic elements, but in a slightly different way. When Princess Sonora is cursed, she’s given other fairy blessings too – like the gift of intelligence. Already an insufferable know-it-all at six months old, she starts planning to use her curse to her advantage; she’ll only prick her finger and fall asleep when she’s good and ready for it. Unfortunately, her plan to use the curse to back out of an unwanted engagement backfires and it’s not until a hundred years later that a different prince wakes her up with a kiss.

From the very beginning Sonora is in control – she decides that since she’s been cursed, she may as well use it to her advantage, and hides away a spindle in case she needs it. She loves reading, believes that she doesn’t need sleep (what with that curse hanging over her) and her long-term goal is to get out of marrying an incredibly boring prince. She’s consistently logical, intelligent, creative and an insufferable know-it-all, and her lack of enthusiasm for her engagement means it is possible to describe her without mentioning her love life.

Her love life is a pretty big feature of the story, but it isn’t the focus of all her decisions – she decides to plan ahead for her own future, to learn as much as she can and to avoid sleeping. She doesn’t really develop over the course of the story but she does have a weakness – her endless fount of knowledge makes her absolutely insufferable, she isn’t always respectful of other people and she can be very dispassionate, all of which stop her from making friends.

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#SmartGirlProblems. (image: gif sec.com)

She comes up with a plan to subvert the curse and avoid marriage on her own, completely disregards the traditional passivity associated with the Sleeping Beauty story and proves herself to be a clever and manipulative young woman – not exactly typical Disney Princess behaviour. She also has a wide range of relationships with different female characters including her mother, the fairies and people in the palace, although most of these take the same slightly condescending tone. All in all, this is a very refreshing look at Sleeping Beauty that manages to keep a lot of the traditional elements – it’s definitely worth a read!

FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10

 

 

image: fanpop.com

This recent adaptation of Sleeping Beauty doesn’t focus on the princess, but the wicked witch at the centre of it all – the titular Maleficent. A retelling of the Disney animated film, this version makes Maleficent the central character, spending a significant amount of time on the relationship she had with the princess’s father. After he steals Maleficent’s wings, she curses his daughter in revenge, prompting him to send her out into the forest for her own safety. Maleficent, however, soon finds herself bonding with the child, and ends up trying to lift the curse. When true love’s kiss doesn’t work, Maleficent kisses the princess herself, all the maternal love she has breaks the spell, and the two go on to overthrow the princess’s father and rule in peace.

Aurora isn’t the central character in this film and spends a substantial amount of it as a very young child, but as she grows older she gets a lot more agency, going back to the castle of her own accord and giving Maleficent back her wings. Later in the story she wants to find out about the curse and help Maleficent, we don’t see a lot of her hobbies but she seems fascinated by fairyland, and she believes a lot of generic stuff about kindness, goodness etc. so I’ll allow her the point. She’s consistently cheerful, sweet, kind and good, and it is possible to describe her without mentioning her love life or appearance as both are played down to an absolute minimum.  Throughout the film, her decisions are motivated more by the desire to find out about herself and her environment rather than Prince One Direction Knockoff.

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Tell me you don’t see it. (image: pinterest.com)

She doesn’t develop over the course of the story and she doesn’t really have a weakness – she’s naïve, but anyone would be if they’d been raised out in the woods by three idiots who don’t know that it takes a while to get babies onto solid food. She only really starts to influence the plot in the last half hour or so – before that she does very little. As far as gender stereotypes go she’s in the middle – she’s generically kind, sweet and good but rejecting familial bonds and siding with Maleficent (not to mention saying that maternal trumps romantic love) is very subversive. When it comes to other female characters, she has a few different relationships – namely with Maleficent and the three fairies – but these don’t really change, even after she finds out that Maleficent cursed her. All in all it’s a pretty solid effort, but I think if they’d spent less time on Maleficent’s backstory and more on her relationship with Aurora, this version of Sleeping Beauty would have been a much stronger character.

FINAL SCORE: 6/10

 

 

image: youtube.com

This is a very different retelling of Sleeping Beauty – but it’s Neil Gaiman, so what did you expect? This version follows a grown up (and non-vampiric) Snow White investigate a mysterious sleeping sickness on the borders of her kingdom and find a castle covered in thorns with a sleeping princess in the tallest tower. She kisses her awake, only to find that the sleeper is the creature who cast the curse, and the mysterious old woman hobbling around the castle is the real princess with all her youth and beauty stolen from her.

This version of Sleeping Beauty is a different kettle of fish. She’s very much in control, as it’s implied that she cast the spell on the princess to steal her youth, beauty and social standing. We don’t hear a lot about her hobbies, goals or beliefs either – apart from that she’s a creature that wants to stay young and in power – which is pretty similar to Gaiman’s other retelling of Snow White (Snow, Glass, Apples). She’s consistently portrayed as intelligent, ruthless and cruel with strong magical powers, but you can’t describe her without talking about her appearance as the desire to look young and beautiful is what motivates her.

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Young, beautiful and chilling on a bed full of skulls, that is. (image: goodreads.com)

She doesn’t appear to have any genuine feelings for anyone, so her love life isn’t really an issue. She doesn’t develop over the story but she does have a weakness – she’s over-confident, which does set her back. She’s the driving force behind the whole story and relates to other female characters in different ways, manipulating and taunting the real princess while trying to seduce Snow White. As far as gender stereotypes go, she’s on the fence – progressive in that she’s ruthless, cruel and manipulative (traits not always seen in female characters) but less so in that her main goal in love is to stay young and pretty forever. All in all I really enjoyed this retelling, but I felt that this particular version of Sleeping Beauty could have been fleshed out a little more.

FINAL SCORE: 7/10

 

And there you have it – that’s my analysis of Sleeping Beauty! Long story short, most of these adaptations’ problems stem from the fact that the main character’s most significant contribution to the plot is her falling asleep – I can tell you from experience that it’s difficult to subvert the patriarchy when you’re unconscious. The traditional versions of the tale didn’t expand her role beyond token pretty lady, and while some modern adaptations have gone to great lengths to change this, it doesn’t always work.

Next week, I’ll be back with my original ten question test and looking at one of my all-time favourite books. Rebecca, I’m coming for you.

 

And if you’re looking for all my posts on Strong Female Characters, you can find them here.

Strong Female Characters

Strong Female Characters: Princess Tiana

For those of you that don’t know, Tiana is the main character of Disney’s 2009 film, The Princess and the Frog. Loosely based on the original fairy tale, the plot follows the adventures of Tiana, a hard-working waitress in 1920s New Orleans who kisses a prince who’s been turned into a frog – only to catch amphibian-itis and turn into a frog herself. While not the smash hit that Disney was hoping for, the film was still well-received by critics and did very well at the box office – and most importantly of all, introduced Disney’s first African-American princess. Tiana herself was certainly the main draw of the film, and has been hailed by critics and audiences alike as a role model for young girls everywhere.

But does she measure up to the hype? Let’s find out – but watch out for spoilers!

 

  1. Does the character shape her own destiny? Does she actively try to change her situation and if not, why not?

Tiana begins and ends the movie actively trying to take control of her own destiny, which is unusual among Disney Princesses.

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But they’ve been working on that. (image: frozen.disney.co.uk)

Instead of waiting around for something to happen to her, it’s made very clear that she’s been trying to change her circumstances from the second we meet her. When she’s turned into a frog, she immediately sets about trying to turn herself human again, but even before that she’s working two jobs to save up the money for her restaurant. There’s a lot stacked against her – not least of which is the racism that Disney only vaguely alludes to – but she doesn’t let that stop her from living the life she wants to lead.

SCORE SO FAR: 1

 

  1. Does she have her own goals, beliefs and hobbies? Did she come up with them on her own?

Tiana’s goals are very clear and consistent: she wants to be a world-class chef and open up her own restaurant (and to also not be a frog any more, ta very much). Her beliefs and hobbies all revolve around this goal: she believes in the value of hard work and is sceptical that ‘wishing’ will get her what she wants, and she loves to cook. They all inform each other as well: her goal to open a restaurant came from her love of cooking, her belief in hard work came from her desire to open a restaurant, and her love of cooking is what gives her the motivation to keep working towards her goal. The three are all very closely interlinked, but I’m not going to let that stop me from giving her the point.

SCORE SO FAR: 2

 

  1. Is her character consistent? Do her personality or skills change as the plot demands?

Tiana is a very consistent character. As well as the fairly stereotypical Disney Princess traits of being good, kind and sweet, she’s also hard-working, realistic, ambitious and incredibly focused, with a very strong sense of right and wrong. As far as skills go, she’s a great cook, a very good waitress, and seems to have the capacity to make the best of every situation and get something out of nothing.

SCORE SO FAR: 3

 

  1. Can you describe her in one short sentence without mentioning her love life, her physical appearance, or the words ‘strong female character’?

A hard-working young waitress wants to open up a restaurant, but gets turned into a frog in the process.

SCORE SO FAR: 4

 

  1. Does she make decisions that aren’t influenced by her love life?

Tiana’s love life is a pretty big part of her story, but it isn’t the only part. At the beginning of the film all her decisions are influenced by her desire to get her restaurant and get turned back into a human – it’s only as the film progresses and she falls in love with Prince Naveen that it actually starts to influence her.

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Look at his shiny teeth. (image: teen.com)

But even then, it isn’t the only factor in her decision-making. When she’s convinced that Naveen doesn’t love her and has chosen to marry Charlotte, it’s not just her love life that motivates her to run away but the realisation that she’ll be stuck as a frog forever. When she defeats Dr Facilier, the top-hat-wearing voodoo villain, it isn’t just thoughts of Naveen that motivate her but also respect for her father and a realisation about what she really values in life. When she stops Naveen from kissing Charlotte, it’s not just because she loves him, but because she knows he won’t be happy if he marries her.

Tiana’s love life is simply one motivation out of many when it comes to her decision-making. Yes, a love story is central to her development, but it’s not the only thing. Crucially, Tiana’s love life doesn’t make her forget everything she wanted before she met Naveen – the only difference is that now, she wants to share those things with him. I’ll give her the point.

SCORE SO FAR: 5

 

  1. Does she develop over the course of the story?

Tiana does develop over the course of the story, largely thanks to the influence of Naveen. She learns to loosen up and enjoy herself, and that there are more important things in life than just work. I’ll give her the point.

SCORE SO FAR: 6

 

  1. Does she have a weakness?

Tiana’s biggest weakness is the fact that she’s a terrible workaholic and can be pretty uptight. While this does affect her during the course of the film – she’s always tired, she turns down invitations from friends, she doesn’t know how to relax and she is so tightly focused on her goals that she can’t see what else is important – it isn’t really portrayed as a bad part of her personality.

Tiana is a workaholic, but by and large the film shows this as a positive thing. We never see Tiana regret the fact that she doesn’t have as much free time as others, because the film makes it clear that she’s very happy to pursue her goal at every opportunity. Her ability to work hard is shown as a good thing, especially when compared to Naveen, who starts the film as a reckless and irresponsible prince. Tiana’s workaholic nature is, more often than not, used as evidence of how much she values her dream rather than evidence of the fact that she’s probably crazy stressed 24/7.

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In real life she’d be like this ALL THE TIME. (image: giphy.com)

Long story short, the film is kind of on the fence about whether Tiana’s hard-working nature is a weakness or a strength, and does its best to show both sides of the argument. I’ll do the same and give her half a point.

SCORE SO FAR: 6.5

 

  1. Does she influence the plot without getting captured or killed?

Tiana is a real influence on the plot. Her plans and decisions propel the story forward at every turn, whether she’s finding her way through the bayou or taking down an evil voodoo witch doctor with an excellent song.

 

SCORE SO FAR: 7.5

 

  1. How does she relate to stereotypes about gender?

Tiana is a very interesting character when it comes to gender stereotypes. When discussing how gender stereotypes affect her character, you also have to look into how racial stereotypes affect her character too, as the two are often quite closely linked. The film is unusual in that these stereotypes are directly referenced in the plot, albeit in a pretty oblique way.

On the whole, I think Tiana is a pretty progressive character. She’s a hard-working young woman whose lifelong dream is to start and manage her own business. She works multiple jobs to achieve her goal, and even when she gets knocked back she doesn’t let that stop her. This goes against the commonly held belief that women in general aren’t motivated by their careers, but also goes against a lot of racial stereotypes about black people having a poor work ethic. Portraying Tiana as a hard-working, intelligent young black woman who wants to break into a male-dominated profession (because almost all professional chefs were dudes in the 1920s) is a double whammy, hitting back against gender and racial stereotypes. Ten points for Disney.

However, Tiana isn’t completely off the hook. The film’s central message is about getting what you want vs. getting what you need, and in Tiana’s case, what she wants is her restaurant, but what she really needs is shown to be settling down with a man. The film goes a long way to portraying their relationship as one between equals – they both help each other change as people and are prepared to make sacrifices for each other before they fall in love – but this central theme kind of undermines this. Tiana’s big character growth is deciding to give up on her dream and live as a frog in a swamp with her boyfriend – turning back into a human and getting her restaurant is treated like an optional extra. This actually plays into a really common gender stereotype that a woman’s ultimate goal is to settle down and start having babies. It isn’t really a huge setback for her character, as once she marries her prince and turns back into a human she goes after her restaurant again, but the change in her priorities has important implications that shouldn’t be ignored.

This sums up a lot of the problems with The Princess and the Frog – a lot of effort has been put into updating the story, but it’s still squashed into some fairly conventional Disney Princess boxes. Tiana is a hard-working young black woman motivated by her career, but ultimately she still settles down with a handsome prince. She gets the restaurant she’s always wanted, but she’s made it clear she’d put her relationship before that if push came to shove. Tiana and Naveen change each other into better people through their love, but ultimately it’s still his money and status that ends up giving her what she wants. The film is trying to tell two stories at once – one very traditional, one much more modern – and smushing them together throws up some really unfortunate implications (and that’s saying nothing of the fact that Disney’s first black princess spends most of the film as a frog).

giphy frog
I couldn’t find a more appropriate gif if I tried. (image: giphy.com)

I’ll give her half a point. I get where the film is coming from, and it has a lot of really positive things going for it, but trying to squeeze it into the traditional Disney Princess formula really takes the shine off.

SCORE SO FAR: 8

 

  1. How does she relate to other female characters?

Tiana has a few interesting relationships with other female characters. She’s very close to her mother, but they have their differences: Tiana wants to build her restaurant, but her mother thinks she works too hard and would rather she met a nice boy and started producing grandkids. She’s best friends with the spoiled society darling Charlotte, but despite their different personalities the two get along well and Charlotte gives up on her plan to marry Naveen for Tiana. She’s respectfully wary of Mama Odie, and takes a little while to understand her advice, but gets there in the end. I’m not counting Evangeline, because she’s, you know, a star.

She doesn’t have many other relationships with other female characters that are explored in much detail, and personally, I think that’s a real shame. All the relationships we see her engage in are overwhelmingly positive, and I would’ve liked to have seen how she dealt with a little more conflict and tension with another female character. I’ll give her half a point.

FINAL SCORE: 8.5/10

 

Tiana is a well-rounded and consistent character with a range of goals, beliefs and hobbies. She takes control of her own destiny, doesn’t let her love life rule every decision she makes and grows throughout the story. Her weaknesses are a little patchy, her relationships all run along fairly similar lines and she throws up both positive and negative gender stereotypes, but that hasn’t stopped her from passing my test.

Next week, I’ll be looking at a new favourite of mine. Kimmy Schmidt, I’m coming for you.

 

And if you’re looking for all my posts on Strong Female Characters, you can find them here.