1937 1950

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Kay Nielsen (Danish-American, 1886-1957)

East of the Sun, West of the Moon, Tales of the North, 1914

Kay Nielsen was an art nouveau illustrator who specialized in books for children. He worked as a concept artist for the Walt Disney Company from 1937-1941. By the 1950’s, his style had fallen out of fashion, and he died in poverty in Los Angeles.

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Adriana Caselotti & Snow White (1937) | Ilene Woods & Cinderella (1950) | Mary Costa & Aurora (1959) | Jodi Benson & Ariel (1989) | Paige O'Hara & Belle (1991) | Linda Larkin, Lea Salonga & Jasmine (1992) | Irene Bedard, Judy Kuhn & Pocahontas (1995) | Ming-Na Wen, Lea Salonga & Mulan (1998) | Anika Noni Rose & Tiana (2009) | Mandy Moore & Rapunzel (2010) | Kelly Macdonald & Merida (2012) | Kristen Bell & Anna (2013) | Idina Menzel & Elsa (2013) I made them transparent!

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Kay Nielsen (Danish-American, 1886-1957)

Concept Art for Night on Bald Mountain, circa 1939

Kay Nielsen was an art nouveau illustrator who specialized in books for children. He worked as a concept artist for the Walt Disney Company from 1937-1941. By the 1950’s, his style had fallen out of fashion, and he died in poverty in Los Angeles.

More Kay Nielsen

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Disney’s Princesses

(in no particular order, Elsa excluded) Princess Belle (1991) // Princess Tiana (2009) // Princess Aurora (1959) // Princess Jasmine (1992) // Pocahontas (1995) // Princess Ariel (1989) // Princess Snow White (1937) // Princess Cinderella (1950) // Mulan (1998) // Princess Rapunzel (2010) // Princess Anna (2013) // Princess Merida (2012)

The Classic Disney Princesses do NOT NEED a MAN

The CLASSIC DISNEY PRINCESSES do NOT NEED a MAN

  • Snow (Snow White, 1937)
  • Cindy (Cinderella, 1950)
  • Aurora (Sleeping Beauty, 1959)

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First, let’s look at the living environment of these girls. This will give context and incentive for their specific wants.

PART 1: LIVING ENVIRONMENT

Snow, Cindy, and Aurora grow up isolated and have no (human) friend - they only have animals for company.

In addition to growing up isolated, both Snow and Cindy grew up orphaned young girls and directly suffer due to a jealous older woman: the Queen dresses Snow in rags and forces her to be a scullery maid; Lady Tremaine abuses, humiliates, and forces Cindy to become a servant.

Cumulative Summary

Snow, Cindy, and Aurora are all isolated and friendless. Only Aurora isn’t abused.

PART 2a: SNOW - I’M WISHING

I’m wishing for the one I love
To find me today
I’m hoping 
And I’m dreaming of
The nice things he’ll say

Summary: wants someone to love her. 

The context for Snow is that the Queen is the kind of person who would kill her out of vanity, twice (=huntsman, apple). The Queen is so evil that her name/reputation alone is enough to fear (=Snow’s reaction of “the Queen” to the Huntsman; the Dwarfs’ reaction of “the Queen” to Snow).

So “I’m Wishing” is a song where a princess-turned-maid, who is murderously hated, wants to be loved.

PART 2b: CINDY - A DREAM IS A WISH YOUR HEART MAKES

A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you’re fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep
Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling thru
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
the dream that you wish will come true

Summary: have faith in dreams and keep believing

Although this song isn’t specific dreams, it does tell us that - despite domestic abuse - Cinderella’s spirit isn’t broken. (She’s even slightly rebellious because she dreams in spite of her step-family: “Well, there’s one thing. They can’t order me to stop dreaming.”)

Later in the movie, her dream becomes specific. What are the mice doing they sing their working song? What does Cindy describe as “completely wonderful”? What does her Fairy Godmother give her during the song’s sad background reprise (=listen when Cindy’s crying at the bench)? The answer: the ability to go to the ball.

At the ball, she sings “So this is Love” duet song and Cindy sings this line: “So this is the miracle that I’ve been dreaming of”. Now, in addition to going to the ball, Cindy also wants to be loved.

So “A Dream is a Wish your Heart makes” is a song where a gentleman’s daughter-turned-servant wants a night out and to be loved.

PART 2c: AURORA - I WONDER

I wonder, I wonder
I wonder why each 
Little bird has someone
To sing to sweet things to
A gay little love melody?
I wonder, I wonder
If my heart keeps singing
Will my song go winging
To someone who’ll find me
And bring back a love song to me?

Summary: wants to know if she will be loved

Apart from her aunts, Aurora has known literally no one. Thus, she has had no opportunities to develop a platonic or romantic relationship. Not only does she sing about how the birds have love, but around her are pairs of rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks. (Maybe all couples?)

A bit later, Aurora laments being “treat[ed] like a child” and how her guardians, “never want [her] to meet anyone.” However, she’s slightly rebellious because she playfully dreams in disobeying her aunt’s life-limiting rules by meeting a stranger - a romantic prince with whom she can walk and talk; similar to how the birds fly and sing with each other.

Yes, she says “prince” but does that actually mean “prince and nothing but a prince” or it is just the romantic fantasy of a teenage girl who just wants to meet someone - anyone? (Part 5 will address this)

So “I Wonder” is a song where someone, who feels the the need for friendship and/or romance - but has never had the opportunity - wants it. 

Cumulative Summary

Snow, Cindy, and Aurora are all isolated and friendless. Only Aurora isn’t abused.

All these girls want a basic human need: companionship and/or being loved.

PART 3 - SITUATIONS WHEN WANTS COME TRUE

For both Snow and Aurora, their wants start coming true while they are singing. Snow, to the best of her knowledge, is singing to herself and is dressed in rags. Similarly, Aurora is singing and dancing to herself and her animal friends, and wearing her peasant outfit… however, their solitary singing is surprised by an impromptu duet.

For Cindy, her wants become true when her Fairy Godmother gives her the ability to go to the ball. (Nothing about meeting a prince and nothing about making him fall in love with her)

Cumulative Summary

Snow, Cindy, and Aurora are all isolated and friendless. Only Aurora isn’t abused.

All these girls want a basic human need: companionship and/or being loved.

Their needs for friendship and romantic start becoming fulfilled while they were being themselves; not trying to attract a man.     

PART 4- SITUATIONS AFTER WANTS COME TRUE

For Snow, after she flees from the prince, much later in the movie, she sings “Someday my Prince will Come”. In a way, the song is almost a continuation of “I’m Wishing” because she’s still wishing for “the one I love / to find [her]”. 

Now she sings about a prince because that’s who her love actually is. And it’s not love because he’s a prince, it’s love because she wants “to be happy forever” and “find love anew” with him. Again, like originally, she just wants to be loved.

For Cindy, after she flees the ball, she apologizes for getting carried away at ball which was “so wonderful”. After that, then she talks about meeting a handsome guy who had approached her and asked her to dance (while she was looking lost).

Note that she doesn’t lament the fact that she didn’t meet the prince or that she didn’t make some guy fall in love her - she would only do that if that was her want. Because her want was just to go to the ball, she was happy - prince or not; man or not.

For Aurora, after she is told that she can’t meet the stranger, she is pretty much told that everything she has ever known is, in essence, a lie.

She cries due to many things but one of those things is the fact that she still can’t pursue the opportunity to create friendships and chose romantic relationships of her choosing. Unlike before when she was treated like a child, now she can’t do things due to being a princess.

Cumulative Summary

Snow, Cindy, and Aurora are all isolated and friendless. Only Aurora isn’t abused.

All these girls want a basic human need: companionship and/or being loved.

Their needs for friendship and romantic start becoming fulfilled while they were being themselves; not trying to attract a man.

None of them specifically lament over the fact they didn’t get a man. 

PART 5 - PRINCE

Snow White

  • Wearing scullery maid rags (=low social status)
  • Sings “I’m Wishing” for her true love. Doesn’t know who that is.
  • Sings “Someday my Prince will Come” after she finds out her love is a prince. 
  • Her second song isn’t only about marrying a prince, it’s also about being happy and being loved.

Snow wanted love and it only so happened her love was a prince.

Cinderella

  • Uses “I haven’t met the Prince” as an excuse to leave
  • Imagines that “even the Prince himself couldn’t have been more…”
  • Is clearly surprised when she hears the Prince is in love with some mysterious glass-slipper girl.
  • Is just an “eligible maiden” who was wearing a dress - like everyone else. The proclamation supports this: “every single maiden in our beloved kingdom, without prearranged exception”

Cindy just wanted to go to the ball and had no idea with whom she was interacting.

Aurora

  • She’s a peasant and so “that’s impossible! How could [she] marry a prince”
  • When she could marry a prince, “But, but I can’t! He’s coming here tonight, I promised to meet him.”

Aurora - even when given the opportunity to marry a prince - just meet the stranger again.

Cumulative Summary

Snow, Cindy, and Aurora are all isolated and friendless. Only Aurora isn’t abused.

All these girls want a basic human need: companionship and/or being loved.

Their needs for friendship and romantic start becoming fulfilled while they were being themselves; not trying to attract a man.

None of them specifically lament over the fact they didn’t get a man. 

None of them intended to marry a prince nor give the impression they were princesses.

 PART 6 - SUMMARY / CONCLUSION

Snow, Cindy, and Aurora are all isolated and friendless. Thus, they lack a basic human need: the need for companionship and/or being loved.

To cease being alone and lonely, these girls would most likely need to be with someone. Logistical fact. However, this is not necessarily to say “I need a man”.

It’s to say these girls are experiencing and acknowledging their romantic feelings and imagination. It’s to say they want to pursue these feelings of attraction and may want to experiment in this natural biological and/or psychological process.

It’s to say the Classic Disney Princesses want to love and want to be loved.

Kay Nielsen (Danish-American, 1886-1957)

The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Fairy Tales by Hans Andersen, 1924

Kay Nielsen was an art nouveau illustrator who specialized in books for children. He worked as a concept artist for the Walt Disney Company from 1937-1941. By the 1950’s, his style had fallen out of fashion, and he died in poverty in Los Angeles.

More Nielsen