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.