Ariel: Rebel or Classic Princess?

After watching” The Little Mermaid” now, it made me like the movie less. As a kid I did not understand the reality and meaning behind aspects of this movie. One of those includes gender and status. There are two powerful sea creatures, and Triton and Ursula. Both of them try to control Ariel, but in the end only the man in power survives. Ariel, the main character, is an opinionated woman. She is curious, but also hesitant because she wants approval from her father. I wonder if “The Little Mermaid” diminishes the power and worth of a women?

Ariel is a rebellious daughter, not afraid to explore, but she is afraid of being alone. Triton does not want Ariel to go on land or meet any humans because he believes humans will only harm her. Humans often exploit sea animals, but Ariel sees something more in them. Compared to other Disney films, Ariel does have a bold Character as a Women, however her independence gets taken away. The push Ariel needed to become a human and explore the land was a man. She has been collecting man made objects for years and always dreamt about what they were used for. None of those dreams were enough, because she didn’t have someone else in them. Ariel needed to fall in love with a man in order to finally disobey her father wishes. Why did that have to be the case? Why couldn’t Ariel have meet a wonderful friend or left the ocean on her own? Since Ariel only became a human to be with Prince Eric, I think it diminishes her overall worth as a woman. Ariel has always wanted to experience human life, but because she does it over a man, it makes the audience forget she had her passions separate to Prince Eric.

7 thoughts on “Ariel: Rebel or Classic Princess?

  1. I think you make a really interesting point about the fact that Ariel had to meet and fall in love with a man in order to finally be compelled to become human. This is a really interesting look on the concept of sexism and the idea that women are portrayed to rely/need men. However, did you consider that rather than her final push being meeting the Prince, that it was actually strictly a reaction of her father destroying her possessions? Regardless, this would still be open to the interpretation of sexism considering that she would have been acting out against the control that her father has over her.

    Your post actually made me think of another instance in which it seems that this movies contains messages about sexism. One example would be when Ursula first offers her deal to Ariel and says that she would only have to give up her voice. Ursula goes on to say that Ariel would not need her voice to make the Prince fall in love with her because men only care about physical things and actually prefer women who do not talk. However, The Prince’s search for the woman with the voice that he remembers suggests that he, as a man, believes opposite of what Ursula has implied.

    While I had never thought to consider the gender roles in The Little Mermaid because in my mind it had always just been a very nostalgic movie, you make some compelling arguments about the negative portrayal of women. However, I would have to say that this movie shows more the way that Ariel as a woman was able to overcome all of the stereotypes and restrictions that are held over. Which, to answer your question would for sure make her a rebel. However, isn’t being a rebel what truly makes a Disney Princess, a princess?

  2. Your argument helped me look at the movie as if it were made for adults which revealed many different themes. I believe you make a lot of really great points about The Little Mermaid’s relation to gender and power. We see gender and power play into Ariel’s character and how she deviates from the rest of the other mermaids especially her sister. As you already said, the different gender and power roles are also displayed in the characters of Ursula and Triton. Triton and Ursula each contain unusual power because of their different gender roles. Thus, The Little Mermaid may not be the childish movie that most people view it to be.

    I particularly enjoyed how you included Ariel’s rebellious behavior. I think the director gave Ariel that description because of the argument you were making about gender roles and the normalities associated with them. Her rebelliousness cremates a good contrast between her and her sisters which could be useful to include in your argument.

    I also think you could improve your argument by exploring the characters of Ursula and Triton. Why isn’t Triton a woman and why isn’t Ursula a man? Overall, this is a very insightful argument that helped me look at the movie from a different perspective.

  3. Hi, I think that your question “if “The Little Mermaid” diminishes the power and worth of a woman?” is very interesting and attractive, it leaves a lot of space for readers. However, I have different ideas of why Arial needs to marry a human to “disobey her father wishes” to get on the land and explore all the new things.
    I think that it is reasonable for Arial to marry a human and stay on the land. In my opinion, it is not possible for the little mermaid to explore by herself, because she is too naive and knows nothing about the world on land. This will bring her bad travel experience and may put herself into danger as there is nobody protect her. For the idea of travel with a local friend, I think this is reasonable, however, this may not work long. A friend can teach Arial a lot about the custom and culture, and they can enjoy great time together. However, friends are not family, so they cannot always stay with you and they have their own life. It will not be easy to stay in a totally new environment by oneself. She will feel lonely, and will not make a living easily, as she is a spoiled princess with on working skills or experience. The motivation of exploring the world is because of curiosity and imagination, I doubted that if life becomes tough, lonely, and totally different from her interesting imagination, will she still willing to stay. As she does not want to go back to the sea, she will need a family, which I think for most people this is a necessity, that gives her love. Just like her father, he is trying to protect her, maybe in a wrong way because of prejudice. Sooner or later, Arial will find a soulmate to build a new family as she is away from her sea family.

  4. Ariel wouldn’t be interested in Eric if he wasn’t human though. Let’s face it, what’s he got going for him? he’s musical.. but there’s plenty of that under the sea, he’s got a sweet relationship with his companion animal.. but that’s also normal for merfolk.

    Ariel is a super nerd for the human world and it’s probably the first time she’s seen an attractive human her age. Imagine a trekky meeting a cute and available Vulcan in real life.

  5. In the first sentence I want to say that it feels different after the book. I agree with something in your statement. But I suggest you read the book. It will be much more vivid and will give you a coherent image of the Little Mermaid. I just wrote about this book, also applied to case study help online, used for that. You could say that I had a whole project that I worked with. And it wasn’t just me, it ended up being a fascinating review. Yes, many people do not like the cartoon, but it is for adults, but for children there is no difference: who has the power, etc.