Types of Love Shown by Disney’s Princesses

Reading up on the types of love has helped me understand what I like and dislike about the different Disney princesses.

When you think about how a Disney princess exemplifies love, the relationships for many of the early princesses—Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora—appear to be focused on eros, at least as far as the princes are concerned. Mulan’s interest in Shang starts with eros, but her feelings evolve into respect and admiration for his character, not just his eight-pack. Even Ariel only demonstrates eros for Eric, whom she does not know at all except by sight.

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As much as I adore The Little Mermaid, her relationship with Eric is extremely superficial and borders on mania. I mean, she gave up her voice for a man. Rapunzel also shows mania, given her determination to see the floating lanterns.

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As far as ludus, Belle, Jasmine, Rapunzel, Anna, and Tiana show the building of their relationships through romance. To a much lesser degree, Mulan and Shang flirt, but they snip at each other more than anything else.

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Of the princesses demonstrating philia, the most obvious is Mulan, who saves first her entire troop on the mountain and then the emperor through the end of the movie. Anna demonstrates this in Frozen 2 when she awakens the mountain trolls.

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By the time Frozen 2 rolls around, Anna and Kristoff have reached as close to pragma as any Disney princess can through the short duration of the films. The best example I can offer is Mulan’s parents (who actually survive the story!) and the sorrow they share when her father is preparing to leave. Rapunzel’s parents also appear to share pragma in their grief and hope for finding their missing daughter.

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While Snow White, Aurora, and Ariel appears to share storge for the fairies, dwarves, and King Triton respectively, Cinderella doesn’t really have a loving relationship with anyone except her animal friends. Rapunzel even shows storge for Mother Gothel, despite the abusive control she exhibits to her adopted daughter. Mulan goes to war out of storge, because she doesn’t want her father to die. Similarly, Belle sacrifices herself as a prisoner to the Beast for her father. There is also obvious love between the sultan and Jasmine, as well as between Tiana and her family. The storge of Anna for Elsa forms the crux of both Frozen plots, and Elsa eventually shows the same deep-rooted affection for her sister by the end of the first movie. More heartbreaking is the storge Moana has for her family, especially her grandmother.

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Philautia is a little harder to observe, but Belle refuses Gaston because she knows she deserves better. Jasmine also appears to express her self-worth as she tells Aladdin and Jafar off for imagining they know her life better. Tiana knows her worth, too. She has a plan to run her own business, and she knows she has the skills needed to succeed. The rest of the princesses seem to significantly lack any sense of self-worth. In the case of Mulan, this is unfortunate, since the historical character went on to become a decorated commander. She would not have been so successful had she lacked faith in herself, which Disney reinforced through the song “Reflection” as well as her botched matchmaker visit.

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Finally, we come to agape. The first example that comes to mind is Moana, who is willing to sacrifice everything to save her people and is even able to find empathy for Te Ka, who is actively trying to kill her. Anna also exemplifies agape. She runs off to find her sister in Frozen to save all the people of her land from the endless winter Elsa has unleashed. The lesson of agape comes to Elsa a little later, but she goes into the unknown past to save a bunch of strangers who have been trapped by weird magic, and then, after her sister breaks the dam, races to rescue Arendelle from the coming wave that would have destroyed the homes of all her people.

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Largely because of the way they demonstrate different forms of love, Anna, Elsa, Moana, and Mulan present as more heroic and far less hollow than their fellow princesses.

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Obviously I don’t own any of these Disney characters. They make a good resource for study because of everyone’s familiarity with their stories. I also chose to leave  Pocahontas out of this analysis to avoid conflating the Disney character with the historic one.

The Hardest Father’s Day

No one has talked to me about making Father’s Day plans this year. And it’s little wonder since this is the first Father’s Day I will spend without an opportunity to speak to my father.

It’s been nearly five months since he died. While the grief is not constantly at the surface, the hurt has settled into my soul, ever-present and never far.

Here are the words I spoke at his funeral:

My father worked hard all his life, but the things that mattered the most to him were his community, his family, and his belief in God.

Many of you know him as a joyous man, and that is how I think he would like to be remembered, with laughter, rosy cheeks, and a sparkle in his eyes, not with sadness. Papa loved to celebrate: many of you remember him dancing, whether at a party or at my wedding, but he also loved to sing parts from his favorite movies. If you never heard his rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man” from “Fiddler on the Roof,” you really missed out.

Papa was also devoted to his family. He was close to all his brothers. My cousins all have very fond memories of the time they spent with him. But I don’t think they heard the bedtime stories of Aladdin or Sinbad or learned their fractions and percents behind the shop counter. I can count on one hand—with fingers left over—the number of nights Papa wasn’t home when I was growing up, or the number of times he happened to be out of town. He was always present, he was always patient, and he has always been my biggest cheerleader, my staunchest supporter.

I have good memories of traveling with Papa, whether road tripping to see the country, or more likely, road tripping from college to a summer internship or my first jobs—he made sure to come and help me get settled in. When he came to spend time with Tara, he got to relive some of his parenting memories with me, strolling her endlessly through the neighborhood just to get her to fall asleep and finding inventive ways to make her laugh. There were times he would call Tara by my name, and I’d like to think I brought him some of the joy I saw in him when he spent time with her.

And then he got sick. The visits slowed. It was the weekend before he was going to come meet Devin for the first time that he was admitted to the hospital with his terminal diagnosis. When he told me, he said “I have lived a good life,” consoling me when I should have comforted him. But still, every time I spoke to him, his first questions were about his grandchildren and whether they were well. When I visited last weekend, he made sure to thank the nurses who visited him and wished me a safe journey, even though he didn’t have the strength to do or say a whole lot more than that. Genuine kindness drove his thoughts and actions in his dealings with all of us.

And in his commitment to this community, I know that you will stand with us, with me and, more importantly, with my mother as we face the future without him.

Some of you know Papa as a self-taught man. He didn’t have a college degree, but he spent his life learning, whether it was custom tailoring, accounting, watch and jewelry repair, or spirituality. Papa often read books, particularly in the evening after work, and he cultivated my love for books by his example. He was thrilled when I started reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People,”saying it changed his life. Seeing all of you here today is ample illustration that he succeeded, that he had an impact.

Papa developed his incredible faith in God through careful study and logic, and I learned religion from animated discussions over dinner with him when I was older, and from his reading me mythology comic books when I was little. It was Papa who pushed me to get an education and, later, a job—to be fully independent—because he wanted to make sure I could always take care of myself and my family. He considered it his most critical mission as a parent and in his life to ensure my independence. He found a lot of peace once he got sick knowing that he didn’t need to worry about me. His intense sense of responsibility quietly drove so many of his actions.

It is his devotion to God that makes his loss easier to bear—I know that he is where he wants to be now. We should all take comfort that he is no longer suffering, because he suffered a lot these last few years. And we should learn from his difficult example the importance of preventive care, that if you really don’t like doctors, go to see them often so you don’t have to see them longterm for something catastrophic.

One thing Papa told me when I was quite little was to always say “bye” or “bye-bye” but not “goodbye.” He said “goodbye” was very final, when someone was going away forever, not to return. And I, in turn, have always been very careful to tell people “bye” and not “goodbye” because I always expect to see them again. Today is different, and it is hard to break a habit so ingrained.

So Papa, I miss you and I love you. Goodbye, Papa.