I was on Facebook recently and noticed a group titled, “Disney Gave Me Unrealistic Expectations About Love.” Following are several of the reasons given by the group for why this statement is true: “For the young of heart who believe that: Swapping your voice and family for a pair of legs is a good deal; Love transforms haughty beasts into Princes; Pretty girls fall for hunchbacks; Kissing a sleeping Princess with 100 years of morning breath is pleasant; And that falling in love with an explorer does not risk a nasty smallpox infection.”
You’re probably wondering why I have chosen to blog about this topic. I am not blogging about whether Disney movies are great works (that would be a mere opinion, and not nearly so blog-worthy), but moreso about how there are deeper meanings to be found in literary works (and movies) than what can be taken from face value alone. My reasons for discussing this in relation to Disney movies: 1. Most people are familiar with these works; 2. I stumbled across the group mentioned in the first paragraph recently, so any thoughts are still fresh in my mind; 3. I have spoken to others a little on this topic in relation to Disney movies in the past.
Honestly though, has society fallen so far that nobody can see the great lessons about love that these “uncomfortable” aforementioned truths teach? Doesn’t the fact that Ariel gave up her family and life as she knew it prove her devotion to Eric and that true love transforms us? Wouldn’t a pretty girl, especially if she recognized the beauty of another’s soul, embrace a hunchback, or someone of any physical flaw for that matter? And doesn’t a true lover love his beloved regardless of any disease or harm that may come to his own body? Aren’t we supposed to be willing to lay down our own life for those we love? Wow, could it be that literature is capable of leading a person to learn or better understand Christian and other moral principles?
Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite tales that has been done by Disney, since it tells such a beautiful story: A selfish, prideful prince is turned into a “beast,” indicative of the state of his soul. Along comes Belle, who learns to love the beast despite his appearance and how terribly he treats her (and everyone else). Since Belle showed love to the beast (not entirely different from the way that Christ loves us and gave Himself for us despite our own sins), the beast was transformed, just as man is transformed by God’s sanctifying grace, made available to us through Christ’s sacrifice of Himself. Could it not be that, whether Disney intends it or not, the authors intended to show, on some level, the “romance” between the soul and Christ, which is most easily understood by many through the scenario of a romance between a man and a woman?
As with Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella is a tale linked to Christian principles: she is treated terribly by her step-mother and step-sisters, but bears her sufferings patiently and is rewarded when her groom takes her away to live the life of a princess (applied loosely, Cinderella = us, Prince = Christ). The good Christian often suffers much in this life, but the reward is great in heaven. After all, Ephesians 5 compares the relationship of husband and wife to that of Christ and the Church, so it is not such a stretch to think that other authors would do something similar using allegory to make their points?
In short, why does it matter that the scenarios of Disney movies, literary works, and the like rarely play out in real life as they do in fiction? There is a much deeper meaning to be gleaned that is missed entirely if you take a work at face-value only.