There is one movie I could watch every day and never get tired of—Disney’s “Hercules.” When I tell people this, they are often confused as it is not the most popular Disney film. However, there is one big reason why I keep coming back to this movie.
Megara, Meg, is a character whom I have always been able to relate to. I have always been stubborn and sarcastic, but when I put my mind to something it gets done, which is why I feel like Meg and I share some characteristics.
Hercules came out in 1997, the same year as the Fox Animation classic “Anastasia.” Within the same year, two movies featuring strong, capable females were released. As a young girl, these were my two favorite movies because I could see my stubborn self in these women. Although Meg is not an official Disney princess per se, she is the heroine of the story.
When Meg is first introduced she says “I’m a damsel. I’m in distress. And I can handle this.” By introducing her with such sarcasm, she is portrayed as self-sufficient and strong-willed, which is not always the case with Disney princesses. Meg gives up her life for someone she loves, showing strength and bravery.
From that moment on it was her “duty” to serve Hades even when the man she sold her soul for left her for another woman. Despite being heartbroken, she keeps her word for a while and although it is not the most rewarding job she understands the consequences.
Her life changes when she meets Hercules, a common theme within Disney movies, but this story has more to unfold. As she and Hercules interact more and fall in love, Hades discourages this and reminds her that is what got her in the situation in the first place. He drains Hercules’ powers with the promise that he will keep Meg safe. Meg knows that what she did was wrong and begs Hercules not to give up his powers for someone who has done nothing but hurt him.
When Meg is not kept safe, she is willing to die for Hercules so he can save Olympus, helping him complete his duty. Hercules, of course, saves the day and they live happily ever after.
Megara’s actions may not seem very heroic compared to other princess’s duties, but when you take the time to think about it, her personal sacrifices took a lot of courage and inner strength. She gave up her freedom and almost her life for the people she loved. She did not fight for her country or go stop a giant angry lava monster, but she chose love even after being burned by it. Her duty was to be strong and love, even when times are tough. That’s why I still admire her even as a junior in high school.
Of the official, but debatable, list of 12 Disney princesses—which includes Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Mulan, Rapunzel, Pocahontas, Snow White, Jasmine, Tiana, Merida and Moana it is no secret Ariel possesses and deserves the highest ranking of recognition and praise. While Cinderella, Belle and Mulan may be the iconic working women of the Disney princess franchise with their well-known stories, Ariel should not be overlooked.
From its debut in 1989, “The Little Mermaid” stole the hearts of children, adolescents and adults for decades to come. With her passion, determination and willpower, Ariel defied the odds and became who she wanted to be: a human.
Not only does Ariel begin as the only non-human princess, but she repeatedly took on the personal duties she assigned to herself in order to defy what her father wants from her as a mermaid.
Despite her father’s wishes, Ariel perseveres and does not back down, creating her own fantasy and refusing to give up while doing so. Throughout the film, Ariel puts on her “game face” to tackle every duty and challenge that comes her way, despite how hard it is on her and her dream to abandon the life that was created for her. Ariel’s optimistic attitude provided her with the hope and joy that push her transition from follower to leader.
Not only does Ariel define ambition and the importance of following your dreams through her own goals and tasks, she beautifully (and iconically) teaches young girls about optimism, confidence and the importance of seeking new adventures.
Others looked down on Ariel and judged her for not choosing to take the conventional, expected path that was mapped out for her. As the king’s daughter, Ariel was expected to follow mermaid duties and protocol. In fact, the description of the film describes Ariel’s father as controlling through the set of rules that were identified as “forbidden.” However, despite the consistent negativity and problematic situations she faced, Ariel was able to disregard the voices telling her she was not accomplishing her duties as the king’s daughter and dream about her own goals.
Furthermore, Ariel proved everyone else wrong as she later achieved the dream she had worked so fearlessly for. With (Ariel’s) goals in mind, I can admit Ariel made poor choices along the way, but she refused to abandon what she set out to do. As a princess, she displayed humility, growth and ultimate happiness as she continued to achieve her personal self-acclaimed job: to get the guy and become a human.
Due to Ariel’s optimistic, driven personality, she accomplished tasks and overcome obstacles, leading her to reach her dreams and become who she wanted to be: a human princess.