For the first time, we have a Disney Prince who isn’t really a prince. Aladdin is a commoner who falls in love with a Princess and strives to win her. ‘How?’ you ask. By lying and stealing of course. There is a little daring and rescue thrown in at the end, because a prince must always have an opportunity for derring-do.
There are some questionable lessons in ‘Aladdin’. It is okay to steal as long as you really need it. It is okay to lie, as long as it’s for a good cause. It’s okay to pretend to be someone you’re not as long as you’re trying to fit in. It’s like every bad high school movie ever. ‘No one will like you for who you really are. So pretend to be something else.’ The cute girl (or boy) falls in love, the perfect people are put in their place, and the hero (heroine) triumphs. Blah. It is an old and stale plot.
While Aladdin is flawed, he has some major selling points here as well. He falls in love with a woman who is smart, determined, and who can keep up with him. As an added bonus, he falls in love with those characteristics before he realizes she’s a princess. He realizes that the crisis and impeding doom are entirely his fault. If he had followed through with his promises the villain’s plot would never have come to fruition. Aladdin determines to fix his mistakes whatever it takes. Finally, he makes the choice to sacrifice what he wants so that the greater good can be served. Not bad for a lying thief.
In Aladdin’s character we see real growth. He learns the value of truth, promise keeping, and self-sacrifice. He makes choices not based on what will win him the princess but what is right. Of all of the Princes we have looked at so far, he is the one that changes the most. He teaches our young men that change is good and that sometimes changing your approach can yield unexpected rewards.