ever_maedhros: (bale laurie)
[personal profile] ever_maedhros

Frozen was almost an instant favorite with me. The first few times I watched it, there was a familiar quality to the story that I just couldn't put my finger on, but I dismissed it, and sang along to "Let it Go" for the thousandth time. Then it hit me:
Elsa's and Anna's personalities parallel the personalities of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.

Both Frozen and Sense and Sensibility can be (loosely) summarized thus: A thoughtful, seemingly cold elder sister hides very intense feelings beneath her carefully created mask, battling a secret eating away at her from the inside out. A naive, affectionate younger sister follows her heart's impulses, longing to make her dreams and ideals a reality.

Both of them go through gut-wrenching emotional turmoil. The elder sister learns to be more open about her feelings, and the younger sister learns to be more careful about her feelings, and their bond as sisters deepens as each girl comes into her own as a woman.

Shucks, even their names are a little similar. Elsa, Elinor. Anna, Marianne. Tell me this is not a coincidence!

For all the parallels, there are marked differences in the presentation of the struggles that each set of sisters has to face. To start with the older sisters, Elinor's struggles center around family and emotions and a man and emotions about a man. But Elsa's struggles center around family and emotions and superpowers and emotions about superpowers.

In addition to being the intellectual and emotional bulwark of her drama-laden family, Elinor has to keep her cool while Lucy Steele, the secret fiancee of the man Elinor loves, does everything she can to ruin Elinor's happiness and make her snap. In addition to succeeding her dead parents as the queen of Arendell, Elsa has to suppress her ice powers to protect herself from aggression fueled by fear from her people. While Elinor never slips up in public, Elsa does snap and let everyone see her in the height of her simultaneous power and vulnerability.

Elinor's family does acknowledge they depended on her too much and didn't watch out for her emotional duress. She does eventually end up with the man she loves, but not before he apologizes for being naive and selfish. (Edward Ferrars is a dear in all other respects, but come on, dummy, if you're engaged and you start to fall for somebody else, distance yourself and evaluate your life choices. Sorry, I had to get that out.)

Elsa doesn't end up with anybody, nor does she seem like she needs to do so. She overcomes her fear of fear and rejection, and learns to accept herself and her abilities, and garners acceptance from everyone else as well. Which was all pretty much all she ever wanted.

As for the younger sisters, Marianne falls for a man who actually returns her affection in spades, but ends up dumping her for an heiress because he paid for a past wrong with disinheritance. Anna falls for a man who feels absolutely nothing for her, and just wants a position of power, and is even willing to kill both her and her sister to achieve that.

Both girls end up transferring affection to the less flashy, but more caring and dependable foils to the rogue gentlemen, though thankfully they both become more independent and stable before this. (Colonel Brandon is a darling. Kristoff is a dear as well, but Colonel Brandon, everyone, is somebody I really wish I could have a cup of tea with and just listen to any random thought he had.)

Sadly, the only one who gets to land a punch on the man that broke her heart was Anna. I'm sure Willoughby's lingering affection for Marianne was punishment, too, but I see Willoughby as the kind of guy that would get over that, not exactly quickly, but soon enough.

But this is only the skeleton of both stories to give us structure. The heart, the guts of these stories lie in the high and low points of the bond of sisters. With the Dashwoods, Elinor is there for Marianne, even when Marianne is in the depths of despair due to Willoughby's betrayal, and is certain that since Elinor can't express herself like Marianne, she can't possibly understand what Marianne is going through. With the queen and the princess, Anna is the one trying to be the emotional support for Elsa, and Elsa the one refusing comfort, though she is doing so because she's trying to protect Anna, and not just because she thinks Anna can't understand her.

Elinor stays by Marianne's side and does her best to help Marianne pull through an illness brought on by heartbreak and self-neglect. Anna sacrifices herself to save Elsa from the man hell-bent on destroying them. (I think that scene was the most gut-wrenching scene in a Disney movie since the death of Mufasa in The Lion King.)

Each of these heroines is engaging, relatable, and admirable. (Even though I was facepalming and wishing to smack both Marianne and Anna at some points.) And I'll never get tired of watching these girls' journeys, because every time I re-read Sense and Sensibility or re-watch Frozen, I see another layer I hadn't noticed before. The best stories are so rich, you feel that both you and the story have grown in the time you've been apart.

How about you guys? Any other similarities or contrasts that strike you with the girls and their stories? Anything you wish had been shown in greater detail in either one? I personally would have liked more glimpses into everyday life after all the drama had ceased, in both cases. Edward and the Colonel having a contest to see who can make the most low-key joke without their mother-in-law realizing they just said something very funny. Seriously, those two have a sneakier sense of humor than any other Austen heroes, I think. And I'd love to see Elsa coming up with a million and one different uses for ice in summer, topping it all off with a never-melting igloo for Kristoff.
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