Roles of mothers in Disney media
||This article possibly contains original research. (March 2009)|
The heroes and heroines of most Disney movies come from unstable family backgrounds; most are either orphaned or have no mothers. Few, if any, have only single mothers. In other instances, mothers are presented as "bad surrogates" eventually "punished for their misdeeds." There is much debate about the reasoning behind this phenomenon. Some feminists (such as Amy Richards) believe it is to create dramatic interest in the main characters; if mothers were present to guide them, they argue, there would not be much of a plot. Some entertainment journalists (such as G. Shearer) believe that it is to show that a happy family does not have to consist of a mother, father and a child and that a family can be one parent and one child, or one parent and many siblings. Below is a list of some notable examples of this aspect of Disney movies and television series.
Categories of mothers
No (or 'absent') parents
- Pinocchio: Pinocchio - no mother. The Blue Fairy acts as a mother to Pinocchio.
- Peter Pan: The Lost Boys - no mother, so they appoint Wendy as their mother.
- The Sword in the Stone: Wart has no parents.
- The Rescuers: Penny - no mother, but gets adopted parents by the end.
- Tron: Legacy: Sam Flynn - no mother. No father for the majority of his life as well.
- The Great Mouse Detective: Olivia Flaversham - no mother.
- Oliver & Company: Jenny Foxworth - Jenny Foxworth - her mother is mentioned to arrive in time for her birthday, but is not shown.
- Beauty and the Beast: Belle - no mother.
- Aladdin: Jasmine - no mother; a mother character was originally written for Aladdin's character, but was ultimately cut so he has no parents, although he finds his father in Aladdin and the King of Thieves.
- Pocahontas: Pocahontas - no mother (mentioned only; revealed to have been dead for years).
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Elizabeth, Jack - mother referenced as dead (Elizabeth's mother is noted by her father's ghost but never seen), Will - no mother.
- Rescuers Down Under: Cody - no father present; Marahute's chicks lose their father to McLeach
- The Emperor's New Groove: Emperor Kuzco - no mother.
- Lilo and Stich: Lilo and Nani - parents dead prior the beginning of the movie.
- Ratatouille: Remy - no mother. Had a father. Linguini - mother was not shown on screen and is mentioned to have died. His father was the late master chef Auguste Gusteau.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Queen Grimmhilde.
- Cinderella: Lady Tremaine.
- Tangled: Mother Gothel.
- Enchanted: Queen Narissa.
Mother killed and/or captured
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Quasimodo - mother killed by Frollo.
- The Little Mermaid: Ariel, Attina, Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Adella and Alana - mother killed by pirates.
- Bambi: Bambi - mother killed by a gunshot.
- The Fox and the Hound: Tod - mother killed by a gunshot.
- Dumbo: Mrs. Jumbo is locked up for the majority of the movie, but is not killed.
- The Jungle Book: Mowgli - Raksha Killed by Shere Khan.
- Brother Bear: Koda - mother killed by Kenai.
- Tarzan: Tarzan - mother killed (as well as father) by Sabor.
- Finding Nemo: Nemo - mother killed by barracuda (as well as all of Nemo's siblings).
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Princess Kida - mother killed while trying to save Atlantis from its first fate.
- One Hundred and One Dalmatians: Perdita - only to the litter 15 puppies.
- Bambi: Faline - to her twins Gurri and Geno.
- Bolt: Penny's mother.
- The Lion King: Sarabi - mother of Simba, Sarafina - mother of Nala.
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride: Nala - mother of Kiara, Zira - mother of Nuka, Vitani and Kovu.
- The Lion King 1½: Ma - mother of Timon.
- The Aristocats: Duchess.
- Beauty and the Beast: Mrs. Potts, single mother.
- Mulan: Fa Li.
- The Princess and the Frog: Eudora.
- Tangled: Queen.
- Lady and the Tramp: Lady - mother of Scamp, Annette, Collette and Danielle. Jane Brown - mother of James Brown Junior.
- Toy Story Trilogy: Andy - only mother present, no father (however, it has been theorised that throughout the 1st and 2nd movies, Andy's mother is going through a time of divorce with his father due to the fact that the family is moving to a smaller house and selling some extra items in a yard sale)
- Treasure Planet: Sarah Hawkins, single mother.
- The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea: Princess Ariel - Melody's mother.
- Peter Pan: Mary Darling - Wendy, John, and Michael's mother.
- Return to Never Land: Wendy - Jane and Danny's mother.
- Sleeping Beauty: Leah, Queen.
- Hercules: Hera.
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame II: Esmerelda - Zephyr's mother.
- The Emperor's New Groove: Chicha - mother of Chaca, Tipo and Yupi, Azma - mother of Yzma.
- The Incredibles: Helen Parr/Elastigirl - mother of Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack Parr.
- Meet the Robinsons: Unnamed Mother of Lewis. Franny Robinson - mother of Wilbur Robinson, Petunia Robinson - mother of Laszlo and Tallulah Robinson.
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Diane Szalinski, mother of Nick, Amy and Adam Szalinski.
- Brave: Queen Elinor.
- Dumbo: Mrs Jumbo, single mother.
- One Hundred and One Dalmatians: Perdita - only to the other 84 puppies.
- The Jungle Book 2: Messua - Mowgli's adoptive mother.
- Tarzan: Kala.
- Meet the Robinsons: Lucille - Lewis' adoptive mother.
- List of Walt Disney TV series
- List of Disney Channel series
- List of Disney theatrical feature films
- List of Disney made for TV movies
- List of Disney Channel Original Movies
- Henry A. Giroux, Fugitive Cultures: Race, Violence, and Youth (Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 1996).
- Lynn H. Collins, Joan C. Chrisler, and Michelle R. Dunlap, Charting a New Course for Feminist Psychology (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002), 94.
- Stephen M. Fjellman, Vinyl Leaves: Walt Disney World and America (Westview Press, 1992), 263.
- Aisha Sultan, "What does Disney have against mothers?," ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH (03/15/2008).
- Ask Amy
- Geoff Shearer, "Disney keeps killing movie mothers: DISNEY is continuing its tradition of being G-rated entertainment's biggest mother flickers," Courier Mail (March 07, 2008).
- Paul Loukides and Linda K. Fuller, Beyond the Stars: Themes and Ideologies in American Popular Film (Popular Press, 1993), 8.
- Sara Munson Deats and Lagretta Tallent Lenker, Aging and Identity: A Humanities Perspective (Greenwood Publishing Group), 210.