Letting gendered spaces go: striving toward gender and nature balance through bonding in Disney's Frozen and Maleficent

Thumbnail Image
Crosby, Sarah
Major Professor
Michèle A. Schaal
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Organizational Unit

The Department of English seeks to provide all university students with the skills of effective communication and critical thinking, as well as imparting knowledge of literature, creative writing, linguistics, speech and technical communication to students within and outside of the department.

The Department of English and Speech was formed in 1939 from the merger of the Department of English and the Department of Public Speaking. In 1971 its name changed to the Department of English.

Dates of Existence

Historical Names

  • Department of English and Speech (1939-1971)

Related Units

Journal Issue
Is Version Of

From Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to more contemporary releases such as Brave (2012), scholars have extensively examined the portrayal of gender in the Disney Princess films. A significant shift in representation started to occur in the 21st century with a greater portrayal—albeit still problematic—of gender roles. Two recent films, Disney's animated Frozen (2013) and live-action Maleficent (2014), significantly illustrate how society's views of women have shifted, causing Disney to adjust its Princesses so as to mirror contemporary, more egalitarian ideals. In this thesis, I will demonstrate how the depiction of sisterly love in Frozen and the portrayal of motherhood in Maleficent as more important than romantic love establishes a deviation from Disney's prior portrayal of female characters while parodying “traditional” gender depictions. Although both films still lack diversity, patriarchy and gender roles are challenged by female bonding and the desegregation of gendered spaces.

Due to the impact of space or location on gender roles and familial relationships, change must take place at a private and public level to be truly effective. Dualisms—gendered respectively in the masculine and feminine—are present but eventually challenged by Elsa and Anna in Frozen, as well as Maleficent and Aurora in Maleficent: these characters destabilize the spatially connected patriarchal structures by utilizing personal and political power in both public and private spheres. Therefore, Frozen and Maleficent, through the emphasis on familial, female bonding and desegregation of gendered locations, depart from previous Disney depictions of gender roles, dualistic spaces, and the notion of “happily ever after” as achieved through heterosexual romance and marriage.

Fri Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2016