Let’s talk about Disney’s Brave. Brave is a Disney movie, this time featuring a princess from a medieval Scottish clan. However, what stands out from the other Disney movies was that it was centered on the mother-daughter relationship between Merida and Elinor, the queen. Yes, there have been Disney movies that feature familial relationships such as Princess Jasmine in Aladdin and her father the Sultan, although he failed to listen to his daughter’s protests against finding a suitor and ended up under hypnosis. Then there was also Ariel and Triton in The Little Mermaid, albeit protective and concerned of his daughter’s matters, their relationship was hardly the main focus. So there, Disney does feature healthy parent-child relationships, which is much progress from the early Cinderella and Snow White films that only seemed to have absent parents and besmirch the nature of step-parents. However when was there ever a Disney film that was solely about the bond between mother and daughter?
Before everyone points out that The Princess and the Frog did have a strong mother-daughter relationship as Tiana’s mother remained present and supportive of her daughter’s (and husband’s) dreams, the focus of the movie was not this. What Brave has put out is a representation of the bond between mother and daughter. While we may not be fighting for our own hand in marriage to our mother’s dismay, there are parallels between us and Merida. There are times when our own wants and our mother’s expectations are not in sync, and end up distancing us because we do not understand each other, much like Merida and her mother. This is real and true to many people, we don’t always get along with our parent. And in Brave, this is not just a passing theme, instead it develops into the main focus. Merida makes a mistake, just like us although of course ours are never as drastic as say, turning our parent into a wild animal. We hurt our parents, I’m sure, but we also mend our relationship and forge a stronger bond. Merida had to ‘mend the bond torn by pride’ which sends a significant message for both mothers and daughters to take a step back and look out from each other’s point of view. Much like in Merida, despite our defiance and blunders, our mother’s are there to help and protect, and most importantly guide.
The pivotal moment in Brave, was when Merida took the responsibility of declaring herself ready to choose a suitor in order to follow tradition like her mother initially wished for her to. There. She listened to her mother. And her mother heard her, because she urged her to change her decision, and make a new rule where the first born was allowed to pick whoever they want to marry. This was touching, and so, so important. Yes, there was understanding between both but there was also empowerment. Merida was strong enough to make her choice, and she had her mother’s support and belief that she could. This portrays a healthy, supportive relationship, where both fight for the same side, instead of the usual wicked stepmother-stepdaughter trope where they plot to be the prettiest. This shows that our mothers are here for us, not against our hopes and dreams. They are pushing for our success.