Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Disney has portrayed some great villainesses on the screen. In some stories these women provide more interest than the femme fatale protagonist plus they have some great characteristics.

The evil queen in Snow White teaches the lesson that jealousy just isn’t a nice quality. But besides proving this, she shows us tenacity (doesn’t give up trying to find Snow White and getting rid of her), knows how to delegate authority (sends someone else to do her spiteful deeds), is willing to get her own hands dirty (takes it upon herself to kill Snow White), and knows how to work magic (changes into the old hag, creates a poison apple). Best of all she owned a magic mirror – how many of us would sell a relative for one of those?!

Maleficent is the witch who feels slighted at not being invited to Sleeping Beauty’s christening. When the king and queen whisk the princess to safety and anonymity after Maleficent places a curse upon the baby, the witch spends 18 years looking for the princess. This is persistence! She too uses magic to achieve her goals and is stubborn in her efforts to keep Prince Charming from finding his princess. She is willing to roll up her sleeves and fight the prince herself, taking risks herself instead of allowing others to do it for her. The best things about this villainess are her name and her outfit. Can we really fault her for being nasty when she has the name Maleficent? How sweet would Sleeping Beauty (aka Aurora or Rose) be if she had had been named, oh say, Malignantance?

Cruella de Vil has the name thing going against her and she seems particularly wicked because she wants to hurt puppies. Puppies just seem more sympathetic and sweet than beautiful princesses who are just waiting for the right man to come along. While she has no magic to aid her, she does have henchmen who helped her in her quest. Again, a woman in charge who knows how to delegate. Even while Cruella is a really nasty villainess she did have a great car and cool wardrobe. Even though she was evil she had great fashion sense.

Ursula has it in for Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” Now, she is not the worst of these villainesses. For some reason she really doesn’t strike fear in my heart as the others did. Yes, she is a meany – she makes an almost winless deal with Ariel because she hates her father. But this witch is a hard worker – she keeps on top of the project to make sure Ariel loses the bet. I have a bit of a soft spot for Ursula. First of all she is overweight and she was rejected by the king. The king has a beautiful thin spoiled daughter who is a princess and Ursula is just a lonely, chubby octopus witch. Wanting revenge isn’t a nice quality but Ursula sure has a lot going against her which probably made her turn into a revengeful villainess.

Lady Tremaine is Cinderella’s evil stepmother and she does give stepmothers a bad name. While she certainly knows how to delegate responsibility, (she doesn’t distribute the responsibilities equally between her two daughters and Cinderella because poor Cindy and has to do all the work) but she doesn’t have any magical powers. Lady Tremaine is just plain jealous of Cinderella and wishes her own daughters were as pretty and nice as her stepdaughter. Maybe she is nasty because she just wanted to get married to a man who would take care of her and her daughters and then realizes she is stuck with his kid after he goes off and disappears. That same thing happens today although social services would not be happy with her treatment of Cinderella. Lady Tremaine doesn’t meet the awful fate of the other villainesses’ but watches her built in maid go live in the great big castle with the good looking prince.

Let’s face it, these villainess’s are underrated. They are the characters that make the story. Without them some spoiled rich girls (okay, the Dalmatian puppies could still be an okay story without a woman who wants to use them for clothing) would just meet her man and live happily ever after without overcoming any challenges. Would Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White or Ariel appreciate their princes if they had just been handed over to them or did the challenges bring the couples closer together? I say those women owe a thank you to the villainesses. As for the rest of us, come on….how many of us haven’t wished for a magic wand or powers in which we could make someone’s life a bit miserable or to allow us to get our way?

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