Are All Princesses Good?

Yesterday, I explored the stigma that all queens are evil. Today, I'd like to follow up with an analysis of the stigma that all princesses are good. In the 1985 movie, Legend, Princess Lili gets seduced by Darkness and transforms into a "dark princess" in a revealing black dress, implying that her innocence had been taken away. Does being a princess and wearing a white dress automatically make a character sweet and innocent? The creators of Child of Light, which I referenced in my "Video Game Princesses" post, had some fun with this concept by disguising a wicked princess to look like a good one. Ironically, the word "princess" is often used as an insult. Why? No one embodies the reasons behind that better than Princess Morbucks from The PowerPuff Girls.

Despite her name, Princess is not actually a princess. She is the spoiled daughter of a very rich man who gives her everything she wants. Thus, she possesses all of the princess traits that are frowned upon by parents, the media, and princess haters. Princess Morbucks was a formidable villain on The PowerPuff Girls due to her limitless access to money, which she used to buy increasingly powerful weapons to defeat the super-powered heroines because she was jealous of them. Everyone loved Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup because they regularly lent a helping hand to all the citizens of Townsville. Of course, the moral behind Princess is that being a good person will always make you more popular and beloved than being rich. This is a common theme in fairy tales, which is why leading princesses are given a sense of humility. It's also why I think Merida is the worst Disney Princess, but that's another story.

Most princess characters in fiction had difficult childhoods. Some were raised poor and had to work for everything until they married into royalty, some were brought up without knowing where they came from or who their parents were, and some were not allowed to be their true selves due to the very fact that they were born princesses. These unfortunate upbringings give the audience a way to relate to the princess in question and not resent her for always getting her way. Some potentially spoiled princesses, like Princess Gwenevere or Arkayna from Mysticons, are put into leadership positions at a young age, forcing them to grow up faster and learn to take responsibility as a benevolent leader. All of these things allow princess characters to maintain their virtues so they do not come off as selfish and unlikeable.

Princess Lili from Legend was not the only "light" princess to turn dark. In fact, this is a very common occurrence in anime, especially with magical girls. In Sailor Moon, Chibi Usa was transformed into "Black Lady," an evil grown-up version of herself that the sailor senshi had to try to revert back to normal. The live-action 2003 version of the series, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, used a similar story arc with Sailor Mercury, who spent a good deal of time working on the villains' team as "Dark Sailor Mercury." In Go! Princess PreCure, Princess Towa started out as a villain known as the "Black Princess" before it was revealed that she was Prince Kanata's little sister who had been brainwashed. She later joined the PreCures in their fight against evil. The temptation of joining the darkness has been a common theme in mythology since the beginning of time. Stories written for younger audiences tend to explore characters as either black or white, with very few shades of gray. This theme is especially prevalent in the Star Wars universe.

"Dark" princesses are also used as foils for the good ones, causing them to appear even more pure and virtuous in contrast. The most famous example of this would be Odile from "Swan Lake." Though not a princess, Odile is Odette's perfect foil, seducing Prince Siegfried into joining the dark side by wearing Odette's face. In Grandia II, a video game that was first released on Dreamcast in 2000, Millenia, a character voiced by the incredible Jodi Benson, is the exact opposite of the angelic Elena in every way. Her crude manners and sharp wit do not necessarily make her evil. In fact, she eventually becomes a powerful ally. On the other hand, in Child of Light, Princess Aurora's stepsister, Norah, is dressed like a good princess, but later turns out to be evil. The creators of the game did this on purpose to play around with the "dark" and "light" princess archetypes. In 2016, the musical comedy show Galavant introduced a dark princess named Jubilee as a foil to the mousy heroine, Princess Izzy.

Not all queens are evil, and not all princesses are required to be good. However, in a simple world with no shades of gray, the princess is usually pure and good so that the villain has someone to try to corrupt. Princesses who are brainwashed to become evil are usually rescued from their curse and restored to their original purity. However, there is no cure for a princess who was raised to believe that she can have anything she wants and that everyone else in the world is beneath her.


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