Snow White vs. the Little Mermaid
In the late 1900’s, the gender and family roles were slightly different than they were earlier in the century, but some roles remained the same. Examples of these are shown in the Disney movies Snow White and the Little Mermaid.
In Snow White, made in 1937, the characters’ gender roles display what was normal in society. For example, the dwarfs went and worked as miners, supporting the fact that men were the ones who were supposed to go out into the work force, which was the norm at this time. In the beginning, the queen made Snow White work as a maid, so, naturally, once she arrived at the dwarfs’ home, she began cooking and cleaning and doing everything that was necessary in the house. Also, she was particular about their hygiene, ...view middle of the document...
One example of this was the fact that rather than a woman doing everything in the house, the prince’s chef was a man.
In the song “Poor Unfortunate Souls” that Ursula sang to Ariel, she expresses that nothing matters except her physical beauty. Her words were “You have your looks, your pretty face, and don’t underestimate the importance of body language,” stating that as long as she is beautiful, she’ll be fine.
I also noticed some roles that were present in both films. The first thing I observed was that they both present the stereotype that a woman’s only real aspiration in life should be to find her true love. It’s most obvious in the Little Mermaid when Ariel was willing to give up the greatest talent and her overall lifestyle for the love of a prince. The point is not as straight forward in Snow White, but I saw that in her prayer she mentioned her dream of marrying the prince. Also, in both films I noticed the theme that woman who were powerful, were not married, and had no children were portrayed as evil and sinister, as if the film makers were trying to make it seem as though that lifestyle for women is bad.
In my opinion, the overall message that was trying to be put across in Snow White was the idea that women are supposed to take care of the house and the men in it. And as far as the Little Mermaid, it basically showed that it was acceptable to give up things that are most important to you (your voice, your family, your body, etc.) if it means you can find love and be married because essentially, that’s all that matters.
Although there are probably more gender and family roles, these were the ones that were most apparent to me while watching the films. The roles today aren’t the same as they were when these films were made, but both show that gender roles change as society does and reflect the time period’s cultural norms.