The Prince: Just a convenient plot device?

We start here in our examination of the Disney Princes with The Prince.  What can I say about a character who doesn’t even get a name?  In 1937, the Disney Animation Studio put forth their first fairy tale that was rooted in the power of true love’s kiss.  Interestingly, it was not true love that saved Snow White in the original.  When The Prince moved the glass coffin, the piece of apple fell out of Snow White’s mouth and she woke up.  From the beginning, Disney parted from the traditional Grimm tale to tell a story that required love (romantic love in particular) to end a curse.  It is interesting to me that the The Prince was so integral to the plot but he didn’t even get a name.

When looking at what this character means as a representative his gender in society, I don’t think he holds up well.  As heroes go, the dwarfs definitely do more to help Snow White.  They are the ones who provide her with help and sanctuary.  They are also the ones who chase the villain and bring about her death.  In spite of all of that, it is The Prince who saves Snow White with true love’s kiss.  I’m not sure if this is a plot point that really works.  This is a character who has no function other than to reap the rewards of his power and privilege.  He is completely outside the action, but he ‘gets the girl’.  Why?  Because he is a Prince (The Prince to be exact)?  Because they are in love?  She doesn’t even know his name!  Because a young, white, good-looking man must save the day.  Quite probably.

What do we learn from The Prince?  You don’t need to be smart.  You don’t need to be brave.  You don’t even have to introduce yourself.  If you are a Prince, you just have to show up and the world is at your feet.

It’s good to be The Prince.


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