Do Princesses Ever Get Angry?

As we all know, princesses are the most interesting when written as fully fleshed out characters with a wide range of personalities and emotions. However, some sources claim that princesses, or at least the ones from Disney movies, never experience any feelings other than happiness or sadness. Disney even made this jab at themselves in one of their own movies. In 2007, Giselle from Enchanted was shocked to learn that she was capable of experiencing anger when she left her animated fairy tale world for the grungy reality of modern-day New York City. The implication was that she needed to be a real person in order to experience real emotions. Do two-dimensional princesses really only experience two dimensions of emotion? Let's explore.


To be honest, I find such claims confusing because animated princesses get angry all the time. Ariel's motivation to become human in The Little Mermaid is cultivated by a heated argument she has with her father over whether or not she's old enough to make her own decisions about visiting the surface. Jasmine becomes understandably enraged when she overhears her father discussing who she should marry with Jafar behind her back without taking her own feelings into account. Pocahontas gets angry about Chief Powhatan's racism toward white men by judging the many based on the actions of a few. Even Odette from The Swan Princess directs lots of sass toward Rothbart during his creepy proposal. I would even go so far as to say anger is an essential factor in moving each princess's story forward toward her happy ending. If they don't get angry, they don't have anything in their lives worth fighting for.

Then again, maybe anger is something that only applies to modern princesses. After all, those movies all came out after the late '80s. Sure, the 1937 incarnation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had a sickeningly sweet and docile heroine who was either deliriously happy or deliriously sad at any given point in time, but people who claim that this applies to all animated princesses fail to consider that Snow White was the very first animated princess movie ever. The studio was still learning and had a lot to improve upon. Most modern adaptations of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" take her character in the complete opposite direction, giving her a weapon and pitting her against the evil queen to take back what she feels is rightfully hers. On the other hand, Cinderella's lack of aggression toward her abusive step-family is a defining trait of her character and something that must be kept in modern adaptations order to maintain the integrity of her story. The fact that she is capable of holding in her anger so well is her biggest strength that eventually leads to her happy ending.

Maybe the claim that princesses don't get angry isn't about the characters in general. Perhaps it's referring to when they go to formal events with their ballgowns and tiaras in tow and a huge smile plastered on their faces. This hearkens back to the struggle of the introverted princess and the pressure to put on airs for the public in order to make sure that everyone else is happy, regardless of their own feelings. In that case, princesses are still allowed to be angry on the inside, but they must hide it because they are seen as a representation of the well-being of their kingdom. This is a separate matter entirely that relates more to public figures and politics, the least interesting aspects of being a princess.

When the Disney Princesses make appearances in theme parks, their job is to maintain a positive energy for all of their guests, just like every other cast member. They must always look beautiful and smile. I remember when I went to visit Disneyland with a friend of mine a while back, she told Cinderella about something sad that happened to someone she knew. Cinderella tried to brush it off and change the subject. The "real" Cinderella might have shown sympathy and talked about her own tragic backstory, but everyone at the Disney Parks must create the illusion of constant happiness, just as princesses must do when they go to events where they represent their kingdom. It is unfortunate that we must hide our true feelings sometimes, but there are occasions when it is necessary in order to maintain tranquility among large groups of people.

What it all boils down to is that princesses have just as many emotions as everyone else, but they are often placed in situations where they must hide them for the greater good. I disagree with claims that Disney characters never get angry. There are too many examples that show otherwise. However, the ideal image of a fairy tale princess is that of a young woman who made it through a difficult situation with her chin up and her head in the clouds and is now living a life of luxury, love, and happiness. In the end, isn't that everyone's ultimate goal?

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