A. Plan of the Investigation
This essay focuses on the progression of women in Disney movies as feminist movements thrived and gender equality grew. To assess the extent to which the characters changed over the course of history, the investigation compares the personality traits and behavior of the lead characters in the Disney movies “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Mulan.” Within this investigation, connections are drawn between the growth of independence in real-life women and that of Disney characters. Over the course of the 20th century the feminist revolution took charge and the gender gap began to close. This investigation identifies the parallels between the Disney character and the women of the time period in which it was produced.
The three sources evaluated throughout the investigation are the “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” produced in 1937 by William Cottrell and David Hand, “Beauty and the Beast” produced in 1991 by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, and “Mulan” produced in 1998 Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook. As these movies were produced, the characteristics of the princesses came in three distinct clumps. For the purposes of this essay, Snow White represents the modest princesses from 1937 to 1959 as she is the most extreme example of these characteristic and sets the stage for those to come. For the curious princess of 1989 to 1992, Belle from Beauty and the Beast will represent the ongoing wonder of women striving for freedom. For the strong princesses of 1995 to 1998, Mulan will provide an example of a determined and strong woman fighting for herself and her country.
B. Summary of Evidence
Over the course of the 20th century gender roles of women have drastically changed. After the rise of feminism in the 1920s and female enfranchisement, women have been working their way up the social spectrum. Though the women’s suffrage movement had been a success, the old time ideals about women were still relevant (Kroloke 5). Women were expected to be married and child bearing by the time they were 20 years old. The overlying idea of “young romance” is a central theme in Disney movies and reflects the real social structure of a family in 1930, with a mix of “emotional, catchy songs, [and] cute animal sidekicks for comic relief” (Chan 231). The first Disney princess was Snow White making her debut in 1937 in the movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” Snow White held true to the ideas represented by society of a predominantly patriarchal familial unit and the charming attributes of women (Cheung 21).
The second wave of feminism took place from 1960 to 1980. During this time period, revolutions and rallies for all different types of people popped up around the country. These movements “focused on the notion and interests of “oppressed” women” (Krolokke 8).Even still women were limited to domestic tasks and men were in the midst of action. For women, this was discrimination and proof that America was not...