Do you like Disney movies? I know a very silly question to ask. I mean who doesn’t like them, right? Mainly aimed at children, the Disney movie was enjoyed by audiences of all ages.
The magical stories of Disney probably had been an integral part of our childhood. We basically grew up watching these movies and they held a special place in our hearts.
One of the most prominent movie genres that Disney released and probably the one that we watched the most was the Princess movies.
While the princesses had their own movies and stories, there was one thing that most of them had in common. It was also one of the most evident features that most of these princesses shared.
If you have ever noticed, in most of these princess movies there was one element that was common; most of the princesses didn’t have a mother! Shocking, right?
Well, it wasn’t a big deal until some eagle-eyed fans quickly noticed that most of the Disney princesses didn’t really have a mother, and thus the discussion started!
Now, you must be curious about it too, right? So were we! But after researching for hours, days, and even weeks we have finally managed to solve this mystery.
Want to know the truth regarding this secret? We suggest you read this article to the end as we are sure it is going to blow your mind away.
Why didn’t the princesses have a mother?
From the very early period, Disney released their princess movies. Debuting Snow white as their first Princess in 1937, Disney has thus released almost 40 princesses to date.
Now, some of them had mothers but the early princesses like Snow White, Cinderella, and Belle didn’t have a mother figure in their stories.
So what was the real reason you ask? You might be thinking of some dark approaches and it is normal to do so as Disney never fails us with some dark theories.
However, in this case rather than some dark theories, it was related to something tragic and sad. Here we are going to discuss some theories and views that might shed some light on this topic.
1. Tragic death of Walt Disney’s mother
As crazy as it might seem, the death of the animator and producer, Walt Disney’s mother was believed to be one of the reasons, why the movies lacked a mother figure.
One of the producers of Disney, Don Hahn, who was behind the works such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King, in his interview with Glamour stated that the absence of mothers in Disney movies might have something to do with the tragic death of Walt Disney’s own mother.
Furthermore, he added to the claim with the incident that occurred with Walt Disney’s parents. He shared that when Walt Disney was still living in his house, which was during the early 1940s, he bought a house for his mother and father.
What could be the happiest moment for a child to see his parents happy, right? However, the happiness didn’t really last long. Before his parents moved into the house, Walt told the studio to go over to the house and fix the furnace.
Regardless, right after his parents moved in the furnace leaked. The housekeeper only arrived the next morning and was able to pull both Walt’s parents out on the front lawn.
Nevertheless, because of the leaked gas, his father got sick and was rushed to the hospital but sadly his mother couldn’t make it and died.
So, not only Don but fans also believed that Walt was devasted by the death of his mother. They thought that Walt blamed himself for his mom’s death, and the guilt haunted him his entire life and it was even reflected in his works.
His mother died in late 1938, and most of his works after his mother’s death lacked mothers, which indicated that he was still not over his mother’s death.
2. Based on stories from the 18th and 19th centuries
The next theory that we have on our might not be that much of important but it is not even that insignificant that it can be totally ignored.
Now you know how most of the early classic Disney princess movies were based on the fairytales written by the famous authors, the Brothers Grimms, who together collected and published folklore.
They were very much inspired by the German Romantic authors and philosophers, who believed that the purest forms of culture, those that connected a community, could be found in stories from generation to generation.
Despite being very dark-themed, their stories were very popular among the readers, which expressed the essence of German culture and reflected the spirit and beliefs of its people.
Their stories, although enjoyed by many, had an eerie vibe to them and often didn’t include a mother.
Now, why they didn’t include a mother? Well, we do have an answer to this question. The main reason for this was because they were both the authors of the late 1800s and during the 18th and 19th centuries, many women died during childbirth.>
So, considering the fact that there were many, who were without a mother the Brothers Grimm thought it was only fair for them to not include any mothers in their stories as it would have caused pain to those who lost one.
So, according to this theory, the reason behind the princesses not having a mother was very much inspired by the Grimm’s stories.
3. Lack of Parental figures used as a plot device
Well, as we all know that the film industry was not all that of a saint because lots of things were going on in the backstages.
They used everything to gather more audience. One of the most prominent ways was to use the lack of parental figures or the absence of parenting as a source of empathy.
Clearly, they believed that using Parental loss got the audience to empathize with the characters more. Surprisingly it did work very well because these stories were based on the literature from the 17th to 19th centuries when losing at least one parent before adulthood, especially mothers, was very much evident.
Similarly, they used the loss of a parent as an easy plot device, which was used to create problems from early on, so that these early problems could turn into bigger conflicts in the future, which added more interesting plots to the storyline.
For some early movies like Cinderella, Belle, and Snowwhite this plot was seen to be widely used and even princesses like Ariel, Elsa, and Anna lost their moms at an early age, which clearly showed the lack of mother’s care.
4. The Characters’ Development
This theory was also based on the interview that Hahn gave to Glamour. Along with the tragic incident that occurred with Walt Disney, he even went on to add some more words regarding the Mother Question.
In his response, he said that the most standard reasoning that could be given for the princesses being motherless was that Disney movies focused more on the character’s development or more on coming of age.
They assumed that the children could never be adults unless they fully take on the roles of the adults. For this reason, they believed that the characters without any parental figure would have to grow up quickly.
So not having a mother figure in their lives the princesses had to grow up quickly and take on the roles that should have been original to their mothers.
This idea was more believable and easily digested as popular series like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones also used the very idea to make their characters develop quickly into mature individuals.
5. The Princesses’ mistakes
This one must have to be one of the most interesting theories out there and to be honest quite believable as well.
According to this theory, many fans believed that the stories of the princesses would have never even been there if their mothers were with them.
Confused? Well, if you remember most of the Disney princess movies were only possible because of the mistakes that the princesses made, right?
Like Ariel acted on her own to meet a guy she just saw once, Belle just agreed to become a servant to a beast and Cindrella married a guy just because some fancy shoes fitted her.
So, if their mothers were there they would have probably stooped them from making such mistakes, and could you imagine what would have happened if the princesses were stopped? No story!
That’s right! Imagine Ariel’s mother being there and stopping her from making a deal with the sea witch in exchange to be with a boy. Had she been there and stopped her, Ariel would have never even dared to set her fins out of the water!
And just like Mother Gothel said, “Mother knows best”, they certainly do!
However, as much as the characters might have missed the presence of their mother it was the only right thing to do because the mothers really didn’t add much to the story let alone their presence would have most probably never let the story even begin.
So did neither of the Princesses have a mother?
While the majority of the early princesses didn’t have a mother many modern Disney movies included the mothers of the princesses.
Now that you probably have a rough idea as to why they didn’t really have a mother. Let us discuss the situation of these Disney princesses who didn’t have and had a mother and how different their conditions were.
Starting off with the princesses who didn’t have a mother figure. Let us talk about the classic princesses Snow White and Cinderella.
Both were very similar to each other. Although one was born a princess and the other worked as a servant, they both were deprived of the love of their biological mothers.
However, in both of their stories, stepmothers played an essential role, which meant that their mothers had to be dead as without the stepmothers their stories wouldn’t even have existed.
In the case of Ariel, the loss of her mother made a huge impact on her story. Without the loss of her mother, King Triton wouldn’t have become a toxic and overprotective parent, which meant that Ariel would have neither sought freedom nor dreamt of becoming a human and that was the main plot of the whole movie.
Moving on to Princess Jasmine, the filmmakers probably believed that her father, The Sultan was more than enough for the story and her mother would have probably not added anything major to the story so why draw an extra character, right?
However, in the live-action, her mother’s death did impact Jasmine’s storyline to some extent.
Just like the case of Jasmine, Belle didn’t have a mother either and her father was already enough to make Belle and Beast meet each other and get together. So, there wasn’t much to add to the story without the presence of the mother.
Also in the original tale, she didn’t have a mother but only had a father and siblings.
Similarly, even Pochahontas didn’t have a mother, which was believed to have been taken from history as even the real Pochahontas didn’t have a record of her mother being alive.
Now moving on to the princess who had mothers. Their mothers were with them in every step of most of their lives. Meanwhile, some did not really get well along.
First of all, let us go back to the era of the classic princesses and take a look at Aurora or better known as Sleeping beauty.
Her mother, Queen Leah didn’t really have much presence in the movie’s storyline. She was shown for a bare moment during the early part of the movie and at the end when she was reunited with Aurora after literally sleeping through the whole movie.
The Frog Princess, Tiana also had a mother, who supported her through all the ups and downs in her life. Meanwhile, there were some moms who just were at odds with their daughters.
In Brave, Merida’s mom did love her but her controlling behavior and always asking Merida to change, caused the relationship between them to turn sour but later on, they did get on good terms with each other.
Just like Merida, Moana’s mom too was always pressurizing her to become a perfect Chief and set an example to the village.
While Moana tried to make it clear that her dream was to set sail across the oceans, her mother didn’t support her but later on when Moana saved the whole of humanity, she finally understood her daughter.
Set in a patriarchal society of China, Mulan’s mother also dreamed of the best for her as she wanted to marry her off to some good noble family and was heartbroken to find out she ran away from home to honor her family.
Misunderstood as a betrayal to the Fa family when Mulan joined the army instead of her family, even her mother turned her back on her as she couldn’t understand her own daughter.
But because the Disney movies had to finish in a good way, after Mulan was able to save the whole of China and bring pride and honor to the family, her mother welcomed her with open arms.