News: Is ‘Sleeping Beauty’ a Tale of Female Submission?

News: Is ‘Sleeping Beauty’ a Tale of Female Submission? May 30, 2014
Angelina Jolie as ‘Maleficent’ in the film of the same name.

from Buzz Feed’s Ariane Lange – How Maleficent Became The Mistress of all Evil in Just 600 Years

But perhaps the explanation for Maleficent’s cruelty has been in the centuries of patriarchal history all along.

In Disney’s 1959 version and its source material, Maleficent curses a baby princess to seek revenge for a real or perceived insult. Despite being harsh, this villain is, remarkably, the only female character who is consistently pursuing her own agenda in every version of these stories. (The princess heroine, as the Disney title suggests, sleeps through the good parts.) Yes, the fairy is “bad,” but part of her “badness” is that she demands respect from a king; the only “good” female characters here are the obedient or unconscious ones. As Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar explain, within Jacob and Wilhelm Grimms’ “Snow White” (who similarly falls into a deathlike sleep), the good heroine is “the heroine of a life that has no story,” a completely compliant figure.

That the passive princess is as much of a snooze-fest as her fate is obvious in the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty: Where Maleficent speaks 541 words, the princess Aurora speaks 263 and sings one song, which adds an additional 141. (Perhaps unfairly, I did not count Aurora’s insensible vocalizations.) Five percent of the words she speaks are the word “oh.” She doesn’t speak at all after she learns she’s a princess. (Incidentally, this movie with an almost non-verbal heroine was the second highest-grossing movie of 1959, Susan Sackett writes). Aurora, the narrator says, is her parents’ “most precious possession.” The three good fairies in the film — Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather — psychologize their nemesis, Maleficent. Fauna says that Maleficent doesn’t understand “love or kindness or the joy of helping others,” concluding, “I don’t think she’s really very happy.” Three feminized things — love, kindness, and the joy of helping others — are what Maleficent can’t grasp. Her masculinity, coded as her refusal to help others, is what makes her so evil. And we shouldn’t assume anything about her, really, before we understand where she came from.

Read the full article at Buzz Feed

Is anyone planning on going to see the film ‘Maleficent’ this summer?

Here’s the official trailer

Comments open below

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  • Or – she could just have some killer PMS.

  • persephone

    Princess or dragon? If you can be the dragon, be the dragon.

  • Othelie Moor

    I love the movie, but it’s because of the level of detail in the drawings. But the story itself is creepy. I’m not planning n watching Maleficent because the trailer makes it out like Maleficent isn’t evil she is just misunderstood and a woman scorned. Reminds me of a disney version of ‘the girl with the dragon tattoo.

  • lodrelhai

    My impression wasn’t “she’s not evil” so much as “people are evil for reasons,” with those reasons being a lot more compelling than “insulted because she didn’t get an invite to the party.”

    Then again, we just had one glaring example of someone being evil precisely because he didn’t get what he thought he deserved. So perhaps the original take wasn’t so unrealistic after all.