Merida vs. Cinderella

The more I hear/read people talking about Brave, the more I feel she’s still getting too much credit, particularly when it comes to being empowered.  Cinderella seems the obvious person to compare her to as her situation was also dominated by her relationship with her mother-figure.  Cinderella is often viewed as one of the weakest female characters in fairy tales, while Merida was supposed to be a new, more feminist princess.  The more I think about them together, the more I feel Merida makes Cinderella look good.

First off, I have to say that I have never been as down on Cinderella as many people are.  I always felt she developed relationships with mice and birds in order to preserve her sanity and keep from growing embittered.  As a young girl thrust into a lonely, tough situation, choosing to put forth extra effort (which the mice clothes show she clearly does) for these reasons shows foresight, self-awareness, and resourcefulness.  Add to that, she is forced to work long hours, do many manual jobs, and clearly isn’t allowed enough sleep.  In this situation, putting forth the energy to do that much for yourself and to better your circumstances is incredible.  I think it’s courageous of her to try and hold onto her happiness.  It shows that she doesn’t internalize the messages she gets from her family, she still believes in her own self-worth.  The fact that she is doing so while trying not to vilify her family any more than she must is an added effort of will to keep her sane and from the trap of being bittered, again-lots of foresight, lots of willpower.  Many people have a down on her for not getting out and making her own way in the world, or not doing more.  I think Cinderella was already doing more than many real people would.  Compare her to someone in a dead-end job that they hate-they don’t get along with their coworkers, there’s barely any time for them to have a social life, there’s a lot of pressure and demands.  Sure, they’d rather be somewhere else but finding a job is tough-at least they have a place to sleep and enough to eat, and they know enough to appreciate that.  At least they’re better than these rich, lolly-gagging idlers who just do nothing all day.  You have satisfaction in knowing you can get stuff done, even if it’s not stuff you’d particularly like to do.  People might wish these people into better circumstances, but does it really reflect badly on them that they keep going on and doing their job because they feel that they must?  Particularly if they are still working to keep up a rewarding social life and to not become embittered?  That person is the common hero or heroine of today, and Cinderella is a wonderful guiding light from them.

 

To get back to the comparison, look at Merida’s position.  She’s already a princess, she’s clearly well taken care of physically, she has a family who clearly loves her, days of total freedom, and her biggest complaint is that her mom is trying to control her.  Yeah, tell Cinderella about it.  Now, for the crucial point: how they handle their one magic wish.  To be fair, Merida does show more spirit in needing to insist on receiving a wish instead of simply being given magic like Cinderella, but then Merida also had magical wisps giving her the hint to claim something important.  On to the actual magic.  Cinderella wishes for the equipment to get to the ball.  This may seem shallow or short-sighted.  However, after seeingBrave, I see Cinderella’s wish as more self-assured.  She asked for the equipment to accomplish a certain task-she trusted herself to actually see that task through.  Merida, on the other hand, in spite of starting out with a huge advantage over Cinderella, didn’t think she could “change her fate” on her own, even with a little help.  No, Merida only saw that her mother was in charge, not that Merida herself could take control of her own fate.  In terms of control, I think we can all agree Cinderella’s mother figure had far more control over her than Queen Elinor does of Merida, but Cinderella still managed to think of something she herself could do, if just given the opportunity.  Moreover, Merida was entitled enough to put her wish on someone else.  Cinderella, at least, takes all the consequences of her magic to herself, not using the moment to put something unwanted on her family or trying to change them to make her life easier.  That gives Cinderella’s magic the moral high ground, especially considering how much more Lady Tremain deserved a magical alteration compared to Queen Elinor.  This is even before considering that Merida’s desire to change that particular event shows that the educated princess totally missed the big picture and failed to consider the consequences her actions would take.

 

Who would you rather have running your kingdom?  The resourceful princess who was always forward-thinking and only experiments with magic on herself? Or the entitled princess who’s willing to magically ‘change’ family members and doesn’t wonder about the consequences?

I declare Cinderella the victor.  Merida’s a new, more empowered spin on a princess, my ass.

“Winter is Coming” 1×1

So, I have finally joined the crowd of Game of Throne watchers.  I have not read the books, nor do I really intend to, but the show looks like worthy entertainment.  Thus far, in any case.  Having only seen the first episode I’m merely apprised of the situation, but nevertheless I have some thoughts.

List (spoilers apply):

1. No woman has a good life in this world-and it’s actually admitted.  Interesting.

2. The banished prince who think she’s the rightful king is TOTALLY what a prominent version of fanfic! Draco Malfoy would look like.  Also, I’ve definitely read him act like that, as well, in spite of not having a sister.

3. A king who is really up front about who he is?  This could be new.

4. The king’s guards’ helmets with the cat faces looked really intriguing until a closeup shot showed that the motion of riding makes it look like their cat teeth are clattering.

5. I think Illyrio should live.  His response to “Do you take me for a fool?” was absolute, hardcore, diplomatic brilliance.  “I take you for a king.”  Kings don’t use the same caution that ordinary men use.  Hah!

6. Honestly, I think the wedding night with Khal of Drogo could have been much worse.  She had a white horse and they rode off together pretty literally into the sunset!  It’s a bona fide happy ending! (Yes, I know, I know, but the point stands.)

7. I love the direwolf pups!

8. It was entirely annoying to me how in the beginning people just stood around saying that things didn’t happen or didn’t exist, even when clearly there was a direwolf below the wall.

9. On the white walkers, particularly their bright blue eyes: Don’t follow the lights!  Really, just all roads lead to Elijah Wood so far on this one.

10. I approve of Arya, overall.

11. I am unclear whether Jon Snow is really good at persuading people or if he just influences Boromir easily due to the guilt over bastardy.

12. Everyone is in love with doggie style for some reason?

13. I know we’re supposed to feel for Bran, but come on.  His lying tell was so simple he never would’ve survived on politics and he clearly didn’t have great physical prowess.  It was only a matter of time.

14. I’m betting Joffrey’s real father is the twin, yes?

15. It really was very considerate and well-mannered of the Dothraki to leave Illyrio and the prince-brother out of the expected fighting/three deaths expectations, considering their numbers, necessity, and the groom advantage.

16. “Winter is Coming” is apparently a very pithy and witty thing to say.