Welcome to another edition of Jane Austen meets Disney! I wish I could blame my Disney enthusiasm on my young children, but the fact is that I find them enjoyable at any age! Even if you haven’t seen Disney’s highest grossing film, you’re likely familiar with the award winning song, Let it Go, at the very least. Don’t worry, I won’t include any audio clips!
Elsa and Anna are sisters and the best of friends until a secret separates them in their childhood. Anna is more wild and carefree, prone to recklessness, while Elsa is more reserved and motherly. As Elsa must keep her magical powers a secret, she entirely withdraws. Anna is consumed with emotion and selfishness. It is entirely about her and that she wants to play. She never asks if Elsa is unwell or has a reason for her isolation. She never offers to simply accept her sister as she is and sit with her or whatever activity Elsa would enjoy instead. This is excused by the girls’ young age but continues to drive a wedge between them as they age and Anna retains a belief of victimization.
Elsa’s magic is suddenly revealed one night, but Anna does not fear her sister the way the rest of the town does. She impulsively chases after Elsa. Desiring to keep Anna safe, Elsa pushes her away and accidentally wounds her, sending ice to her heart. The sisters both love each other but could not be more disjointed. As the ice begins to take hold, Elsa is threatened by Prince Hans. Believing all hope to be gone, she doesn’t even seem willing to fight back, but Anna bravely rushes forward to save Elsa just before turning into a block of ice. Her sacrifice removes the ice from her heart (only an act of true love can do so), and Elsa learns to reverse the accidental storm she made, all she needs to do is embrace her love for family and friends.
As a Janeite, I see the world through Austen colored lenses. Because Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book, I often try to look at things through that shade. Such it was during my first few viewings of Frozen. Then, one day while listening to the CD in the car with my three year old daughter for the twenty thousandth time, it hit me the Austen story it’s really like is Sense and Sensibility.
It’s obvious to anyone who knows the film, it’s a story about sisters. I think Frozen is an excellent adaptation of themes we know from Sense and Sensibility bundled up with fairy tale lore and a 21st century twist.
The root of Austen’s first published work is about sisters retaining their love for each other after their life is turned upside down, precipitated by their father’s death. Marianne is passionate, impulsive, and reckless. The exact nature of her relationship with Mr. Willoughby is unclear to Elinor, and she often disapproves of her younger sister’s behavior. Likewise, Elinor keeps things close to the heart and has secrets. Marianne finds Elinor cold because she cannot have Marianne’s passion for all things.
It is only through the course of the book that the sisters are able to reconcile and fully accept one another. Marianne learns some of Elinor’s sense while Elinor gains some of Marianne’s sensibility. Like Anna, Marianne fancies herself in love built on nothing more than “mental synchronization” and having common thoughts and interests. Putting her “love” for Hans above her sister is what ultimately reveals Elsa’s magical powers. Once she focuses on finding Elsa and offering support, she meets and falls in love with Kristoff, who loves her despite her reckless ways. Elsa learns to take on some of Anna’s energy and animation to express love—not just through distance—and learns to control her powers.
To complete the comparison, Hans is clearly Willoughby. Kristoff is easily Colonel Brandon, even as he mocks Anna’s impulsivity he is smitten by it. His adopted family of match-making trolls are certainly Mrs. Jennings. Olaf, the talking snowman without bones or a brain, personifies Mrs. Dashwood. This leaves Sir John Middleton in the role of Sven, the non-speaking reindeer who is Kristoff’s best friend. (If only Sir John would be non-speaking.)
What’s that? There’s no Edward Ferrars? Well, perhaps the creators of Frozen, like many a reader, believed Elinor didn’t need Edward. What do you think? It’s something It’s on my mind more and more as I continue to plot and write my Witches of Austen series and the characters of Sense and Sensibility are making an appearance.