2015 - 18th Annual Steven Galovich Memorial Student Symposium

Presentation Title

Untold Secrets of Ariel's Cavern

Student Presenter(s) and Advisor

Luz Rodriguez, Lake Forest CollegeFollow

Location

Library 1st floor

Abstract

Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989) tells the tale of a curious mermaid who sacrifices her talent to explore an unfamiliar world. As analyzed through a historically relevant lens, Ariel represents young women in the 1990’s wanting social change. Although the film is a representation of the beginning of a woman’s fight for equality, as Ariel defies established social norms, her position in society is also defined. A representation of women’s position in society is present through Ariel’s relationship with men, expectation of marriage, and through obeying laws established by men. Women’s sexualization is also present through Ariel’s overtly sexual body. Overall, the film teaches young women to be ambitious but it negatively portrays how women should act and appear. Drawing from feminist and gender role literature (Adler, 1992, Heilman, 2001), The Little Mermaid is critically analyzed to expose these flaws. The Little Mermaid successfully addresses important issues such as women’s rights through Ariel’s curiosity to explore the world above her and go beyond society’s expectations; however, The Little Mermaid negatively illustrates women’s position in society by Ariel’s sexualization and motivation driven by a man.

Presentation Type

Individual Presentation

Start Date

4-7-2015 9:00 AM

End Date

4-7-2015 10:15 AM

Panel

A Deeper Look at Disney

Panel Moderator

Scott Edgar

Field of Study for Presentation

American Studies, Cinema Studies, Music

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Apr 7th, 9:00 AM Apr 7th, 10:15 AM

Untold Secrets of Ariel's Cavern

Library 1st floor

Disney’s The Little Mermaid (1989) tells the tale of a curious mermaid who sacrifices her talent to explore an unfamiliar world. As analyzed through a historically relevant lens, Ariel represents young women in the 1990’s wanting social change. Although the film is a representation of the beginning of a woman’s fight for equality, as Ariel defies established social norms, her position in society is also defined. A representation of women’s position in society is present through Ariel’s relationship with men, expectation of marriage, and through obeying laws established by men. Women’s sexualization is also present through Ariel’s overtly sexual body. Overall, the film teaches young women to be ambitious but it negatively portrays how women should act and appear. Drawing from feminist and gender role literature (Adler, 1992, Heilman, 2001), The Little Mermaid is critically analyzed to expose these flaws. The Little Mermaid successfully addresses important issues such as women’s rights through Ariel’s curiosity to explore the world above her and go beyond society’s expectations; however, The Little Mermaid negatively illustrates women’s position in society by Ariel’s sexualization and motivation driven by a man.