The Gender Roles in Little Mermaid and Its Adaptation by Disney

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Looking back on watching Disney movies, the media make us imagine what it feels like to have a happily ever after. Growing up, Disney movies portray “happily ever after” as an achievement, how we need to fight for the ones we love in order to be happy. Disney’s The Little Mermaid, follows the perfect role of having a happily ever after. The character who plays the little mermaid named Ariel; she does everything she could to achieve her goals and dreams. In the beginning, she knows she’s unsatisfied with her life living under the sea and dreams of being on land. However, her father King Triton stops her because he sees humans as evil. As she disobeys her father’s rules, Ariel goes to the evil sea witch named Ursula. She makes a deal with her, as she must sacrifice her voice in order to walk on land and be with her prince. In the end she gets what she deserves and lives a happy life. However, Ariel not only wins more than just having the prince of her dreams and getting her desires but also proves that you do not have to give up everything just for a man. This tells us that women exceed their fantasies because we deserve more than just being women: we deserve to be a person of our choice and not what people expects women should act or do.

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According to the dimensions of social stratification, gender plays the most on the film, The Little Mermaid, by showing Ariel’s oppression, we can see how men are being depicted as the powerful one. Where her father takes control over her decisions in life. He mentions, “As long as you live under my ocean, you’ll obey my rules.” Furthermore, this is evidenced in Sebastian’s song “Under the Sea,” when he attempts to convince Ariel that her routined life underwater would be better than on land, where she will be able to make her own decision. To examine another perspective, we see how Ursula mentions how men view women. She states in her song, “Yet on land it's much preferred for ladies not to say a word. And after all dear, what is idle babble for? Come on, they're not all that impressed with conversation. True gentlemen avoid it when they can But they dote and swoon and fawn…” These lyrics shows what women face today in this society, how they are still viewed as weak and shy. As Lorber mentions, “As a social institution, gender is one of the major ways that human beings organize their lives.” Women, as Ursula explains, women should be silent to attract men. Further, she supports conformity. This explains why being someone you’re not is a big problem in our society today. People often see others as weird or does not belong in this society due to how they are being projected. We always follow the rules that society is making which makes others feel that they don’t connect with others whether they are the same sex or not.

In the generation today, it may seem like everyone is equal in every way but in the end men are always the one that rules everything, whether if it’s at a job or at home. However, in the film, Ariel portrays more than what the audience view her. She is a strong feminist, who is brave, confident and an independent princess. She wants and does everything her way. As it was shown in the film, her father forbids her not to go on land because those so called “barbaric fish-eaters” are dangerous and does not want her to be involved with them. However, Ariel ignored her father’s demand and unfortunately goes. She plays the role of an ordinary teenage girl who disobeys her father and does not follow the rules that she’s regulated to do. This is where the scriptwriter states that a female is more powerful than the male due to how she stands up for herself. As Williams stated in the article, “Still a Man’s World Men Who Do Women’s Work”: “Because of these stereotypes, men are perceived as being stricter disciplinarians and stronger than women...” This message does not appear in the movie due to how the scriptwriter creates Ariel as a brave and very determined woman. She isn’t afraid to show her emotions: she shows that it is okay to make mistakes and to take a break from all the problems that are going on. As an example, there is one scene where she breaks down when her and her father had an argument and destroyed her grotto. Then she goes to Ursula and figures out what she wants. She tells us that no matter what women face in life, we need to find a way to get through it even if it’ll cost our life and our family’s life. She makes women realize that they should not be afraid to try things that are not meant for them because every experience they go through they learn through that process which makes women powerful and makes them feel like they are higher than men. 

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