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Evolution of the Prince Archetype

The prince archetype in Disney movies has changed with the decades, resulting in the creation of multi-dimensional male leads with some greater semblance of personality.

Jackie Emmanuel

on 15 April 2010

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Transcript of Evolution of the Prince Archetype

Double click anywhere & add an idea Evolution of the Prince Archetype First Wave Second Wave Third Wave? The First Wave Prince Thesis The prince archetype has been forced to evolve as his counterpart has, which has resulted in a fully fledged and multi-dimensional character capable of developing on his own. Snow White (1937) Cinderella (1950) Sleeping Beauty (1959) Princes are one dimensional, simply handsome and wealthy The Princess plays a passive role while The Prince plays the "active role" He sees the princess and decides he must have her -
he comes up to her without introduction and they
instantly "fall in love" The Prince Prince Charming Prince Philip The first two Princes do not help in defeating the villainess - rather, the sidekicks do most of the work. The evil force in these movies is the princess's foil - while the princess is naive and innocently beautiful, the villainess is often far more active in her own self-interest, and is often a relative of the princess. The only villainess a prince did defeat was Maleficent, in Sleeping Beauty - unsurprisingly by the only prince with some semblance of a personality The Prince ends the story. He and his counterpart marry, ride off into the sunset, and live happily ever after.
Second Wave Prince The Second Wave Prince Prince Eric The Beast (Prince Adam) Aladdin ("Prince Ali") Aladdin (1992) Beauty and the Beast (1991) The Little Mermaid (1989) The Little Mermaid was made about 30 years after Sleeping Beauty - and those years brought a change in the societal opinion of women. The princesses became more "fiery" and likely to disobey the wishes of their patriarchal society / their fathers. This lead to the use of an active "I Wish" dialogue/song, in which the woman expresses a wish to escape her current constraining society and explore new worlds. The princes needed to adapt to this situation - their personalities had to adjust along with their female counterparts. Eric, though he holds more similarities to the early princes, still had more of a personality - he also rebelled against the established system, shirked his duties to go on dates, and longed to fall in love. This does not make up for his other flaws, but it at least makes him better than the early princes. Aladdin also has an "I Wish" song, and is the first male lead in a princess movie - which may be one of the reasons for its immense cross-generational popularity, despite having some plot problems. He also undergoes a slight but noticable character change throughout the movie. The Beast was the first multidimensional prince. As John discussed yesterday, he undergoes a significant character change throughout the movie, and by the end is able to return to his human form. The Second Wave princes do not immediately fall instantly in love with their princesses; rather, their love grows mutually. The climax of the movie generally ends with the two participating mutually - the wedding is not necessarily shown. The Third Wave Prince Princess and the Frog (2009) Naveen is the Prince of Maldonia, but has been disowned because of how much he parties. He comes to New Orleans to find a rich girl and marry her, restoring his ability to live freely. Charlotte, Tiana's childhood friend, is the girl he sets his sights on, though he would rather not be tied down at all. The villain of the story is Dr. Facilier, a voodoo witch doctor with whom Naveen gets into trouble. This is really the first time the central villain of a princess story is brought into the storyline by a prince - all past villains associated primarily with the princess while hatching their plots. Naveen's character flaws are obvious at the beginning of the film in the same way as the Beast -
this sets him up for the same type of character transformation. This sets Naveen up as a very fallible character, while placing Tiana in a far more sensible role. 1. Transformation of Man -> Beast Facilier turns Naveen into a frog, while using his blood to cast a spell on Lawrence (his valet) to make him look like Naveen. Naveen persuades Tiana to kiss him to change him back. In return he promises "a wish", in this case the money required to pay the landlords of the restaurant property Tiana has always dreamed of. After this backfires, the two must fight together to get out of the bayou. The transformation of Naveen into a beast as a result of his greed is the first step on his road to change. 2. Enemies -> Friendly Partners Again, in a way similar to the beast, Naveen and Tiana do not get along well at all in the beginning of their aquaintence - she views him as a "no-count philandering bump on a log" (which he is) and he sees her as a "stick in the mud" (which she kind of is, too) It is only after they together fight off two sets of enemies and meet two new friends (Louis and Ray) that the two even begin to tolerate each other. 3. Naveen starts to fall in love The two continue to learn about each other - Tiana forces Naveen to help her cook, and Naveen forces Tiana to dance with him when Ray breaks into song. It is during this scene that we see further into Naveen's inner character - he states that after his parents cut him off, he realized he "can't do anything" by himself - something he resents, but doesn't know how to repair. This not only reveals the problem of being a prince, but also an integral part of Naveen's character - he doesn't wish to marry, but feels he has to to survive - otherwise, he would have to figure out how to get a job (which he has no idea how to do). 5.The Attempted Proposal / Sacrifice Naveen decides to propose to Tiana, and even wants to get a job (or more than one job) to help pay for her restaurant However, while he's trying to propose, he realizes that Tiana would need the money for her restaurant by Wednesday - otherwise she'll lose the restaurant she wanted forever In a way similar to the Beast, Naveen sacrifices his chance for love to help the one he loves - he says that he'll "do whatever it takes to make all your dreams come true"- meaning he'll marry Charlotte and keep his promise. This is one of the few times that the Prince character sacrifices for the Princess, whereas the reversal has occurred in just about every film. 6. The End In a Disney first, the Princess stops the villain, not the Prince. In another Disney first, it is not the Princess who openly declares love first, but the Prince. After the marraige(s) occur, the movie does not end with a ride off into the sunset - rather ,they ride off, and then the movie has its REAL ending. Tiana gets the property for her restaurant, and the two restore the old building, now under the name of Tiana's Palace. In the ending scene, Naveen does not have any dialogue - rather, Tiana sings a reprise of the opening theme, and the two of them dance on the roof of the now-open and popular Tiana' s Palace. This is the first film where both members of the couple are present, but only one ends the film - which speaks to Naveen's role as both a fully developed character who is one step down from the title character - Tiana. Though it might seem like this downplays Naveen's role in the movie, it instead emphasizes Tiana's role in the film as a firm main character - and places her as independent of her spouse. 7. Final Notes Princess and the Frog is similar to second-wave movies in that both the Prince and the Princess play active roles; however, this is the first film since Beauty and the Beast to show so intently the gradual evolution of love, especially in the prince. When the two of them change back into humans, Naveen has not only transformed mentally but also physically from his earlier human state. His character design becomes less angled, his eyes softer, making him look overall more loving and mature than before. This is also the first film where BOTH main characters had significant character flaws that were balanced by their others in the end. In second-wave films, it was generally the prince who had flaws, which were later "fixed" by his princess; in first wave, it was the Princess who was in distress. The couple does not go off to rule Maldonia. Rather, Tiana's ultimate goal of owning a restaurant is fufilled, and the two work it themselves along with their staff - the first time either gender has worked post- marraige. This is a far more modern view of marraige, as the idea of mutually working towards a single goal (rather than the male being the sole provider) is a common ending to popular romance novels today. This is the logical evolution that the Prince character has made throughout the ages - he is no longer a prop, but a fully developed example of the modern male. In the same way, Naveen's character sets up an interesting new set of guidelines for future generations to follow. This movie places his playerhood and greed in a negative light, while casting the satisfaction of working hard and loving more than yourself is cast positively. Naveen is not only humorous, handsome, and a musician, he also has character flaws which children can relate to. He is the first to express his love, he is not the one to kill the villain, and he doesn't appear to mind working under Tiana in the restaurant. While all these appear minimal while standing alone, together they create an environment in which men can express their feelings and work under women, something which was seen as unmasculine in earlier decades and earlier films. This is the logical evolution that the Prince character has made throughout the ages - he is no longer a prop, but now an example of modern society. An integral moment of this movie is when Naveen realizes his love is during one of the following songs- at that point, he drops a gold coin in his hand (symbolizing greed) and instead gazes at Tiana dancing, in a way nearly reminiscent of first-wave films.
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