Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Part of a Man’s World: A Modern Feminist and Musical Perspective on The Little Mermaid
by Neuffer, Jaclyn, M.M., California State University, Long Beach, 2019, 33; 13861468
Abstract (Summary)

Since the release of Snow White in 1937, Disney princesses have become global icons who influence and inspire generations. The Little Mermaid (1989) contains one of the most notable of the Disney Princesses, the mermaid Ariel whose rebellious nature enticed audiences beginning the Disney Renaissance Age. Before its release Disney was on the brink of bankruptcy, however due to The Little Mermaid’s success the company was ultimately saved with the protagonist Ariel making a name for herself as the new mold for future princesses. Ariel’s adventurous spirit and comparative independence marked a change from the demure Disney Princesses who preceded her. Although these princesses are fictional characters, their empowering message uplifts through inspirational song and evocative interaction.

The Little Mermaid is a coming of age story about a young mermaid named Ariel who dreams of being a part of the human world, which is forbidden by her father King Triton. Ariel strikes a deal with the sea witch and in doing so obtains human legs for three days in exchange for her voice. Critics of the Disney princess franchise have disregarded Ariel’s interest in the human world as selfish and childish. However, they seem to forget that Ariel is not a fully formed adult, but rather a young heroine of sixteen with a complex intertwining of juvenile and adult attributes that is commonly found in someone her age. Ariel shows her extroverted nature and depth of character through her signature song, “Part of Your World,” whose popularity ushered in a new era of self-reliant princesses. Written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman, “Part of Your World” displays Ariel’s curiosity about the human world. Through her signature number “Part of Your World,” the character Ariel from The Little Mermaid updated the older Disney Princess archetype.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Anglin, David
Commitee: Doyle, Alicia M, Lindau, Elizabeth
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Bob Cole Conservatory of Music
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 81/4(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Music
Keywords: Ariel, Disney, Feminist, Mermaid, Music, Princess
Publication Number: 13861468
ISBN: 9781687952349
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