Being Brave

Pixar’s animation movie Brave is a story about a princess named Merida who is “destined” to be betrothed. Though her mother, the Queen, expects her to be patient, compassionate, elegant and strive for perfection, Merida is not a stereotypical princess. Princess Merida does not follow the stereotype by being an independent, tough, and strong-willed person (not to mention she uses weapons). She is expected to fulfill her responsibilities and has her life set out by her mother, however that is not what she wants. Merida wants to be free and live out her own fate. The movie Brave bends hegemony through actions of the Queen, it challenges stereotypical gender roles through Princess Merida deciding her own fate and the movie can be perceived from a liberal feminist perspective.

Through a feminist perspective, Princess Merida is conveyed with “inappropriate” and “undesirable” gender role and rules. Instead of being the stereotypical princess who is sweet, gentle, elegant and perfect, Merida is strong, independent and perfectly imperfect. Her image is not like the typical princess look of having luxury clothes and straight hair. Merida is rowdy with big curly red hair. She twists the stereotypical gender roles by taking charge of her own fate and not having the “fairy tale ending” with a prince by her side. In a typical fairy tale, the Prince choses the Princess to live happily ever after, but Merida decides that she is not ready and does not want to get married, so then she takes action and behaves in an “inappropriate” way for a princess to fulfill her desire and defies custom tradition.

In the movie, viewers can look at the story through inflected oppositional reading. Brave can be read with inflected oppositional reading because through the structuring of the family there is a bend of patriarchy to suit ones needs. Though the King is to be the ruler of the land, the Queen is portrayed to have more power over the King. The King is supposed to be the mighty and level-headed leader, but in Brave, the Queen is the one who is in higher power and have more responsibilities than the King. For example; in the scene where King gets into a rough dispute with the other Lords and the Queen just steps in and stops it all in an elegant manner. Whereas in other stereotypical scenarios; it would have been settled with the King defeating all the other Lords.

The movie can be studied through a liberal feminist perspective. Liberal feminist perspective focuses on inclusion of women in traditional male dominant areas. This ideology is reinforced within Brave portrayed through Merida and her use of weapons. In the setting of Brave, it is in an era where the men are in active and women are passive. Merida breaks the traditional custom by choosing to take a part in archery. Her passion leads her into a situation where her family choses for her to decide her own destiny. She is the first princess who is able to decide her own fate and not be betrothed through parents’ wishes.

Overall, even though the movie Brave conveys “inappropriate” and “undesirable” roles and rules for women, it teaches the viewers that one does not have to reinforce the hegemony ideology; one can bend or reject patriarchy, break traditional customs, and the alternative worldview can be beneficial to all. Princess Merida shows this moral by being an independent woman and choosing her own fate, which ends in her happiness as well as peace within the kingdom.

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One thought on “Being Brave

  1. Although I’ve never seen the movie “Brave,” just from your description of the plot has made me realize from the very beginning that this animated film isn’t typical. The female protagonist is a headstrong princess, in start contrast to the weak and demure princesses usually portrayed. This seems like a great popular culture text to examine with using a feminist analysis.

    The idea of bending hegemony in this movie is supported well with the example of the actions of the Princess, who’s unladylike behavior of choosing to practice combat with weaponry and going against the norm of getting married is a very good example of the breaking of the stereotypical gender role of females. As well, the reverse power role between the King and the Queen is also a great example off an inflected oppositional reading. I would have expected the King to be much more calm, poised, and dominant over his subjects than the Queen. The short clips you used as evidence helped to strengthen the specific argument at the specific character.

    The weakest point of your blog post would be the structure you have written it in. Instead of a full feminist analysis with a thesis and three points to support your argument, your essay to me has the feel to be composed of three separate concepts of a feminist analysis argument (bending of hegemony, inflected oppositional readings, and a liberal feminist perspective) without much flow between each of the three topic. I think that you could’ve used more transitional words to help. Something else to note is that there were some awkwardly worded sentences, such as “She is expected to fulfill her responsibilities and has her life set out by her mother, however that is not what she wants. Merida wants to be free and live out her own fate.” The comma right before the however seems to extend the sentence to be a little run on. Perhaps try splitting the two trains of thought.

    Overall, I think that he blog post was well done. Although, some minor changes can be made to improve it. The last paragraph was reasonably strong, stating that its ok for females to break out of the expected norm and can still find happy while doing so in the end.

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