There is a basic flaw that every Disney Princess shares in the Disney Princess lineup: selfishness. Each Disney Princess displays selfishness, whether it bothers you enough or no, whether you can spot it or no. But it is there. The idea that only one Disney Princess is selfish is a fallacy. They all are. So from a flaw discussion point, this particular unsavory trait belongs to everyone.
That said, other traits of character are present in the DPs besides the “inherent” selfishness quality. I am going to go down the line, one-by-one, and discuss the selfishness of each princess, along with their other vices, because each princess has more than one. If you’re fine with the traits of your favorite princess or princesses, then that means you can overlook the vices that come with them. That’s okay, too. Everybody does that when they decide to truly love a character.
1. Snow White
Selfishness: Snow is fleeing from being killed by her evil stepmother. BUT she decides to completely take over someone else’s house in the woods. Snow does not know to whom the house actually belongs, and does not wait to ask them, before she rashly decides to take up residence there. This is selfish. Compounding the issue, is that she sets up a whole new set of rules for the dwarfs to obey---- and shames them when they don’t obey her rules, like Grumpy. Grumpy is the lone character that recognizes Snow’s selfishness.
Snow White is also selfish for daydreaming about her prince. Is she doing anything constructive for others during the time she is daydreaming and pie-baking? Nope. We never even see her feed that pie to anyone, do we?
Gullibility and Naivety : Snow is easily influenced by the opinions of her elders. So much so, that at a total stranger’s prompting, she’s willing to bite into foreign food. Sure, she is sold a bill-of-goods by the Old Hag/Evil Queen, who tells her that, “this is not just any apple, but it is a ‘wishing apple.’” But Snow is young, and you can forgive her the tendency to defer to her elders, because she is not old at all: fourteen.
Bossiness: This trait goes in tandem with the selfishness. Snow displays some selfishness by taking over the dwarfs’ house, and along with this selfishness, she does boss the dwarfs around a bit. It’s a cute and motherly bossiness coming from a fourteen-year-old, but it is bossiness all the same.
Selfishness: Cinderella appreciates the effort made by her mice friends, Jack, Gus, and the females. So much so that when she sees what they have done to her beloved mother’s old pink gown, she is both blinded by her dream of the ball, and by her love for them. Cindy does not stop to think about where the mice got the extra material, beaded necklace, and so forth--- to complete the outfit. (The mice thought these were castoffs from Cindy’s awful stepsisters). HOWEVER, Cinderella should have asked where they got these extra items. The fact that she does not, is partly a certain selfishness that Cindy exhibits. Perhaps, Cindy feels a certain little entitlement; that she is “owed” a chance to go to the ball after all of the cruelty she has suffered under her foster family. Well, this moment of Cinderella’s selfishness ends badly, because her stepmother and stepsisters rip this last decorated finery she has to shreds.
Cinderella is also selfish for daydreaming about a fine life without working as a scullery maid/slave. She dreams about going to the ball, and afterward--- she is seen humming and daydreaming about dancing with the nice young man she met. Are any of those thoughts and actions done specifically to benefit other people? Nope. That’s Cindy’s selfishness.
Snarky Backtalk: Cinderella mostly does this whenever her stepmother’s back is turned, and to Lucifer, the penultimate cat. This shows what little backbone Cindy has on display, and her sense of wry humor under her adverse circumstances. That she says something nasty about her stepmother and we believe her, allows us to acknowledge her snarky side.
Selfishness: Aurora is fond of daydreaming and dreaming in general. Who can blame her, since her life has been dull with nothing exciting happening in it. Aurora’s lived all her life in the forest with only three aunts and her assortment of woodland friends who don’t talk back to her like a human would. So when Aurora meets the living-breathing-human, Phillip, she is not only delighted--- it is a dream come true, because she has seen all the birds of the air getting paired off, all of her woodland friends getting paired off…while she is left by herself.
When she rashly makes the decision to meet up with Phillip again, Aurora displays her first hint of selfishness. She feels she has waited an eternity to find this man who has (up until this point) been only a figment of her imagination and her dreams. And when Aurora’s aunts tell her that she cannot see him ever again, Aurora is having none of this! Aurora’s selfishness and disappointment cause her to have a mini-meltdown/tantrum, and she runs upstairs and flings herself onto her bed for a good cry.
So, long story short, Aurora is selfish for thinking non-stop about her “dream man.” Having finally met the “dream man” and discovered he’s real, she is denied the opportunity to be with him. Is Aurora thinking over the fact that she is now a royal? Nope. She deigns to go with her aunts back to her father’s kingdom, because it is the right thing to do. However, Aurora is all the while thinking of her missed opportunity. That is Aurora’s selfishness.
Sulky and Moody : Aurora is eventually wise enough to accept the reveal that she is a princess, but she is extremely angry over it. Her usually sunny smile is missing. She maintains a stiff/cold expression, and whenever the fairies fuss over her, she sulks even more. Aurora doesn’t smile again until Phillip wakes her up after her spell-induced nap.
Gullibility and Curiosity: Aurora is weirdly enticed by hearing her name called several times, and by a greenish cloud/vapor leaking into the room. Aurora is very gullible (unaware of danger), and is extremely curious. It is her overwhelming curiosity that makes her get up to investigate…and the rest is…the spindle-touching and history.
This girl’s flaws are criticized so often, you’d think all the other princesses didn’t have any flaws and were above reproach! Ariel gets a whopping ton of criticism, because Ariel’s flaws are very out-in-the-open. The flaws of other Disney princesses are more disguised, but they are very much there.
Selfishness: Ariel is focused on the human world, which is so different from her own, mermaid life. Her focus and preoccupation with humans leads her to bicker with her father, to keep a secret stash of human items, and to visit shipwrecks and the ocean’s surface. These actions alone are not selfishness. Ariel wanting more than the ocean world in which she lives is her selfishness, but it is the same as Aurora wanting companionship, Cinderella wanting to go to the ball, and Snow wanting her prince to come find her. Ariel exhibits selfishness by “not remembering” to attend music rehearsals according to some people. That point always struck me as funny, because people don’t mind how Snow primarily uses her time daydreaming, or Cindy daydreaming, or Aurora daydreaming, or any other DP daydreaming about whatever. But Ariel can’t daydream! No, Ariel has to adhere to the selfish demands made by other people right off the bat---or HORRORS--- she is selfish for not doing so. So, logically, I believe Snow is selfish for daydreaming about her prince, Cindy is selfish for daydreaming about a ball, and Aurora is selfish for daydreaming about a man, just as Ariel is selfish for daydreaming about the human world.
The selfishness that Ariel displays by daydreaming about humans is further compounded by the dynamic that Triton forces on her. Triton forces his attitudes, desires, and thoughts on his daughter, leaving no room for her to have any thoughts, desires, or attitudes of her own. Triton doesn’t want Ariel to do anything except act as a “trophy.” Sit there, and sing, please. Nothing else. Just sit there and sing for my subjects, so I can boast to them, and I, King Triton of Atlantica, can look good. Triton is every bit as selfish as his daughter.
Another point often brought up, besides missing rehearsals, is that Ariel, as the youngest daughter of Triton, should take more responsibility by learning ruling responsibilities. Actually, this is not the case. Ariel is likely to only be married off. Ariel is not next in line to rule over Atlantica or anywhere else in the sea, ever. So those who say that Ariel is neglecting the responsibilities of ruling a kingdom are misguided. Ariel, as the youngest, has more in common with the real Prince Harry of England, who will never be in line to rule at all, unless his grandmother, his father, and his brother are somehow all addled or dead. That’s how a monarchy works. Ariel has six sisters. Ariel’s six sisters ( and their husbands) are all in line to rule Atlantica next, making it unlikely that the crown of Atlantica would ever fall to Ariel in her lifetime. So the idea that Ariel needs to focus on her ruling responsibilities has no basis in fact.
Anyhow, Ariel breaks another rule, in a long string of rules that her father has designed, because she rescues a human from drowning. With this good deed of saving him, she risks her father’s wrath for the zillionth time. Saving the guy from drowning was selflessness, not selfishness, but what transpired in that act was seeing a human up close--- and this fact definitely does reinforce Ariel’s selfish desire to be part of the human world.
We all know the story that Triton lets his selfishness overcome him to the point where he destroys his daughter’s entire collection, and in so doing, sends his daughter to seek help from an evil entity. If Triton had restrained himself and not destroyed the collection, I don’t think Ariel would have ever developed ANY JUSTIFIABLE REASON to go to Ursula. Ariel would have always stayed a mermaid forever collecting junk, in my opinion.
Stubbornness: People also accuse Ariel for having this flaw. I do see it in Ariel rebelling against her father’s rules, but I also see it in King Triton even more. I also see it in Belle, in Elsa, in Mulan, in Pocahontas, in Jasmine, in Tiana, in Rapunzel, in Anna, and in spades in Merida. (I will show you how each one of these girls is stubborn in turn. Please be patient). This stubbornness is universal to a majority of the DPs, just like the selfishness is universal to all of them. Stubbornness is not Ariel’s flaw alone, so stop splitting hairs, people.
Gullibility and Naivety: Ariel is easily influenced by an elder figure, a trait she shares with Snow White. The elder figure, Ursula, offers Ariel lies, just like the hag lies to Snow White about the apple. Snow wanted the apple badly enough, because she wanted to see her prince badly enough. So Snow felt the apple could deliver on her wish. Ariel wants to be human badly enough, and wants to be with a prince badly enough, so she sings her voice away. Both girls are gullible, foolish, and naive for trusting their elders in this instance. Each of the elders is evil, lies to the girl, and each elder cleverly manipulates the princess.
Curiosity: Another overwhelming trait of Ariel’s is her curiosity. Ariel’s curiosity about human stuff is such a big part of who she is. I would say that Ariel has more curiosity than Aurora. Ursula takes complete advantage of Ariel’s curiosity, and uses it to serve her own ends. Ursula turns Ariel’s curiosity against her, just as Maleficent turned Aurora’s curiosity about the shifting green cloud against her. Curiosity seems to be a troublesome flaw for Disney Princesses.
Never-Listening to What Anyone Tells Her: Ariel gets criticized for this flaw as well. People go on and on at great length about how Ariel doesn’t listen to Sebastian, Ariel doesn’t listen to Flounder, and Ariel doesn’t listen to her father. But other Disney Princesses promptly ignore other characters when they tell them things. Tiana doesn’t listen to Naveen or to Mama Odie. Elsa ignores, and doesn’t listen to Anna or to Hans. Rapunzel doesn’t listen to Mother Gothel. Mulan doesn’t listen to her father. Belle doesn’t listen to the Beast about the West Wing. Pocahontas doesn’t listen to Nakoma, doesn’t listen to her father, nor does she listen to Kocoum. Merida doesn’t listen to Elinor. Anna doesn’t listen to Elsa or to Kristoff. Jasmine doesn’t listen to the Sultan, to Jafar, or to Aladdin (at times). Are you getting my point? This is not a flaw just for Ariel specifically. It’s a flaw in a whole lot of other DPs as well!!!
Recklessness and Risk-Taking: Ariel has a penchant for adventure. She will go as far as her curiosity will take her, making her reckless, and a risk-taker. Ariel is not one for waiting around for things to just fall into her lap. To cautious types, Ariel’s reckless risk-taking is an extremely unattractive aspect of her character, and this is seen as a flaw--- when, in actuality, it is a difference in relatability. Some people can’t relate to Ariel because they never take risks themselves. They shun risk-taking. That does not make Ariel’s risk-taking a flaw. It does suggest, though, that not everyone will relate to a character who takes risks.
Selfishness: Jasmine lives the life of a princess, which is, from what we hear her say, “boring beyond belief.” Jasmine has a bad case of cabin fever. She needs to get out and “see” for herself, the people that her father, the Sultan, claims are the “low lifes/untouchables.” Jasmine is reserving her opinion on the poor until she sees them with her own eyes. But Jasmine has already developed a staunch belief that wealthy people tend to sneer at others, and look down on them. This is apparent from the way she sets her pet tiger, Rajah on yet another arrogant suitor who claims he is “good-enough-for-her.”
Jasmine’s selfishness is displayed when she decides to leave the palace forever, and venture out into Agrabah, on her own, without any guards. Jasmine does not think about what this act will do to her dim-witted father, how lonely Rajah will feel, and the possible fallout. Jasmine just leaves and that is her selfishness on display.
Jasmine also daydreams a lot about escaping her life of wealth, and taking flight. Jas lets out her father’s entire collection of white doves, which illustrates this thinking, and is a selfish action. Jasmine knew that the doves did not belong to her, and she did not ask her father if she could release them. She just releases them, which is rather selfish.
Hot-Tempered and Saucy: Jasmine is very easily irritated. If she thinks people are wrong, she is blunt enough to say so. Jasmine has trouble controlling her anger in public. She basically fumes about being called “marriage-eligible” in front of her father, Jafar, and Aladdin as Prince Ali. Jasmine is not above flipping the bird. She is “not a prize to be won,” and wants people to treat her as more than just a sex object.
Sexiness: Yeah. About that… Some people complain about the way Jasmine was born – I mean, drawn. They hate her nose, her eyes, or her hair, or her looks in general. They also complain about the fact that everything Jas wears, and the way she moves, is all designed to get males drooling. I don’t seem to find her the sexpot that some people (on the internet) think is a flaw. Jasmine is aware of her own beauty/ sexiness, and even uses it to cleverly distract and mock Jafar at one point. But from the way she behaves in the movie, I do not find Jas preoccupied with her looks. If anything, I find Jasmine annoyed by her own attractiveness…if that makes any sense?
Stubbornness: Jasmine refuses to marry. She flat out refuses to get hitched. Combined with her saucy personality, this stubbornness is a huge part of her character. Jasmine stubbornly holds true to her own convictions.
Doesn’t Listen to Anyone: Jasmine doesn’t listen to her father and his demands for her to get married. Jas doesn’t listen to Jafar, either. And Jas listens only intermittently to Aladdin, i.e., only when she wants to do so.
Okay. I think that’s a long enough article for Part One of the Princesses’ Vices Series. Tune in next time for the vices of the Late Renaissance DPs.
You can comment below. Thanks for reading. ;)