Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Almost There; Of Princely Character

photo by Annie Liebowitz

What makes a good prince?  Honor?  Wisdom?  Courage?  Passion?  He is, after all, one day destined to be King.  His behaviour as a young man has much to say about who he will become.  Mistakes are to be expected, but the manner of correction he receives and the training he submits to will ultimately shape his future.

 My daughter loves the movie Tangled.  I mean, is head-over-heels about it.  Don't believe me?  Click here to visit her blog.  We first saw the movie in theaters together.  Each of us came out with a different opinion of the movie as a whole.  She had stars in her eyes of a relatable princess and a dreamy guy who ultimately followed their dreams and lived happily ever after.  I, on the other hand, was a bit perturbed at the mother-figure = bad, thief-as-boyfriend = good theme.  Perspective is everything.  She saw the movie as a teenage dreamer.  I saw the movie as a retired teenager who had been there, done that.  Back then, in the "olden eighties" as my son so *ahem* lovingly puts it, I bought into the whole good-girl-falls-for-bad-boy fairy tale too.  But seeing the movie as a mom, my perspective was, "What do you mean she falls for this Flynn Rider guy?!?  Can't she see he's a thief, a liar, and just using her?!"  (the smolder did NOT work on me)  

I worry not only what we are teaching our girls about who they should "fall" for, but who we are telling our boys they should be.  Are we feeding our boys this character assignment of "If you want to get the girl, you will need to have a dark the bad boy"? 

Two of my all-time favorite fairy tales are Disney's Sleeping Beauty and Mulan.  I have always loved  Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty.  He had what I would call Princely Character.  He was a passionate prince who loved his princess, recognized evil for what it was, and fought that evil with all his might to save his girl.  That's Princely, indeed. 

Mulan's love interest was Shang, Captain in the army and son of the General.  He was a leader who took his role seriously.  He trained hard, followed orders, and didn't allow himself to get distracted from his goal.  He was the kind of man that Grandmothers hope for their grandchildren {Would you like to stay forever?} Again, Princely Character.

The other end of the spectrum is Princes without depth.  I love Cinderella, but let's face it, her prince was rather two-dimensional.  Handsome and polite, but I couldn't make out more than just a pretty face.  Likewise, Snow White's Prince Charming was just that.  Dedicated, sure {One song, I have but one song...} but a bit flat.  If you need someone for a tooth-paste commercial, he's your guy. 

Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid was more of a free-thinker, and did risk his life to try and save Ariel {Grim, I lost her once, I'm not going to loose her again}, but he did fail to recognise evil when it came in a beautiful, deceiving form.  Sometimes evil presents itself as loveliness, and a good prince should be able to discern true beauty from a counterfeit.

Can we encourage our young men to be of Princely Character?  To live with a sense of purpose, to be honorable, noble, courageous and good?  I hope so!  Perhaps there is a lesson in Tangled for our boys after all.  Flynn Rider ultimately found that Eugene Fitzherbert, the gentle & honest persona he once tried to shed, was the persona worth keeping.  While Eugene is still no Phillip or Shang, he's working on making better decisions.  I suppose one could say that he's almost there

All photos are, of course, Copyright Disney. Except as otherwise noted.


  1. I love this post, Mom! I'm glad to hear your perspective on boys and stuff:)
    ps thanks for giving Flynn a break..... he said he "stopped thieving and going by Flynn Rider, and started going by Eugene again"..... lol! Love you, Mom!

  2. Such great insights, Heather! There's so much involved in princely character - with all the steps and choices along the way necessary to create that in our men. Maybe, in Flynn seeing that Eugene actually has the truest "princely" values and morals, our young men will be encouraged to make their own good choices as well. They, too, will be almost there!


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