I’ve heard, more than once, that parents nowadays are concerned about having their daughters idolize the Disney Princesses.  They’re worried that they aren’t good role models, that they’re teaching girls the wrong lessons.  While I won’t deny that the early princesses – namely Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty – do suffer from Isabella Syndrome, existing only to be whisked away by their prince charming, the rest are a completely different story.  Granted, I may be biased, as I have quite a soft spot for Disney, but I think that the majority of the Disney Princesses can, in fact, be positive role models for girls.  Nothing can replace proper parenting to teach girls what should be expected of them (which should be no less and no different than what is expected of boys, but that’s an entirely different post for an entirely different blog), but being taught that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to is a recurring theme in the Disney Princess movies, and all of the princesses do it in different ways.

Ariel: The Little Mermaid starts off like many other stories of young girls – she’s protected by an overbearing father, and forbidden from exploring a new, interesting world her father believes dangerous.  This, of course, piques her interest in the world above, and her father forbidding her from investigating it only fuels her desire to learn more.  She works tirelessly to build her collection of human things, trying to learn more about her passion without raising suspicion.  However, when her hideout is discovered by her father, he destroys it in a rage.  He may want to protect her, but his actions instead spur her on to do something rash and headstrong – she goes to Ursula to become human.

As a human, she faces many challenges.  She’s forced to woo the Prince without her voice, which is what captivated him in the first place.  Along with her friends, she works hard to win him over, and even when Ursula tries to sabotage her, she doesn’t give up.  Through sheer force of will and loyal friends, she’s able to win over the prince and live happily ever after.

Ariel could fit into any of the houses, really.  She’s inquisitve and loves to learn all she can about the world above, and she’s brave enough to go to Ursula and leave everything she knows to pursue her dream.  She uses whatever means necessary to get what she wants.  But I think her hardworking nature, and her loyalty to her friends (and their loyalty to her) define her the most.

Verdict: Hufflepuff

Belle: The beauty of Beauty and the Beast has so much more going for her than just her looks.  She’s first introduced as a bookworm who adores her brilliant yet eccentric father.  She doesn’t follow the crowd – not to prove a point, she just likes being herself and won’t change who she is based on what’s popular.  She refuses the advances of the most sought-after man in town, because his vision of a life with her is nothing she’s interested in.  She willingly trades her life to a monster to save her father, and refuses to bow down to the monster’s demands on her.  In short, she’s got backbone.

While the Beast’s prisoner, she doesn’t simply cower or hide from him, nor does she give in to his every whim.  She’s open-minded enough to see that there really is a person buried beneath that coarse, aggressive exterior, and is patient enough to pull him to the forefront.  She teaches him to become more human, and he gives her what she considers to be the best gift ever – the entirety of his library.  Just as she’s beginning to have feelings for the Beast, she learns that her father is in danger, and the Beast releases her so that she can save her father.  Yet she returns and defends the Beast from the pillaging villagers, out of loyalty and love.

Belle could easily fit into Gryffindor, her bravery and backbone make her a prime candidate.  Yet she reminds me of one of my favorite characters from the Harry Potter series, a brainy outsider who marches to the beat of her own drum, is unafraid of the challenges she faces, and who is fiercely loyal to the people she cares about.  I think Luna and Belle would be very good friends.

Verdict: Ravenclaw

Jasmine:  Like Ariel, the heroine of Aladdin starts out as a pampered, protected princess doomed to live a boring, unsatisfying life.  And, Like Ariel, she does something about it.  Unwilling to accept her father’s edict that she must marry a prince, as she’s never met one that strikes her as anyone worth spending an hour with, much less the rest of her life, she decides to take her fate into her own hands and runs away.  Having never been outside the Palace walls, the hustle and bustle of peasant life is overwhelming, and she quickly finds herself in trouble.  Aladdin tries to save her, but in the end it’s she who must save Aladdin from the Palace guards’ wrath, and she gives up her own fleeting freedom to protect him.

When Aladdin shows up at the Palace parading as Prince Ali, Jasmine at first thinks him no better than the other pompous princes only interested in her looks, money, and power as the daughter of the Sultan.  She isn’t impressed by his outlandish attempts to win her over, but his honesty after she blows up at him does pique her interest.  When Jafar tries to take over, she fights him every way she can, and ends up having to be bound and controlled by magic in order to serve him.  She distracts Jafar as Aladdin makes his triumphant return, and the two live happily ever after once Jafar is successfully dealt with.

Courageous and stubborn, Jasmine refuses to let anyone decide her life for her.  She fights for what’s right, and does everything she can to protect the people she loves.

Verdict: Gryffindor

Pocahontas: While I’m well aware that she’s not a traditional Disney Princess, and while her story may not be 100% historically accurate, Pocahontas is still a strong-willed, passionate female protagonist and exceptional role-model.  Instead of fearing the settlers, she’s curious about them, and befriends John Smith in order to get to know them better.  She loves her home and would do anything to protect it, and she works tirelessly to pass this conviction onto John.  John is impressed with her and hopes to create a world where the Native Americans and the settlers can leave peacefully together.

Their respective groups, however, aren’t fond of the new arrangement.  Pocahontas’s tribe fears and hates the settlers, and the settlers want to wipe out the tribe in order to make way for their new home.  Pocahontas is forbidden from seeing John and mingling with the settlers, but she loves him and refuses to stay away.  John tries to make the rest of the settlers see reason, but is unsuccessful.

In the end, Pocahontas stops her father from killing John by shielding him with her own life, and her passion and bravery bring peace to the two groups.

Verdict: Gryffindor

Stay tuned for the finale of Disney Princess sorting, coming by Monday!