By Murphy Obershaw, A&E Editor
With the newest Disney princess movie, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” coming out March 5, there will be a new player added to the long-standing debate of who is the best Disney princess.
We won’t know if Raya is the best Disney princess until her movie comes out, but who will she be competing with? Who is the best Disney princess now? The answer depends on who you ask, but I’d say it’s Rapunzel.
She stands up to her abuser
Rapunzel was stolen from her family when she was a child because she was born with magical hair that can heal people. The person who stole her, Mother Gothel, kept her in a tower and refused to let her leave.
Not only does Mother Gothel horde Rapunzel’s powers so she can stay young forever, she also verbally abuses Rapunzel.
“Rapunzel, look in that mirror. You know what I see? I see a strong, confident, beautiful young lady…Oh look, you’re here too!”
Some of these comments are subtle, but others are more direct.
“Why would he like you? Come on now, really! Look at you, you think that he’s impressed?”
Rapunzel deals with that a lot in the beginning of the movie, but towards the end she finally has enough. After realizing that Mother Gothel kidnapped her, used her and got her guide/boyfriend arrested, Gothel reaches out to pat Rapunzel on the head, but she grabs Gothel’s hand before she can touch her and tells her off.
“No. You were wrong about the world, and you were wrong about me, and I will never let you use my hair again!”
We have seen Disney princesses put up with being mistreated before, but we don’t always see them stand up to those who were hurting them. There are women in the real world who have been used and/or verbally abused, so it is very powerful that Rapunzel, who has to deal with the same struggles, stands up to her abuser, and proves that she is strong for doing things Gothel said she couldn’t handle, like leaving her tower.
She has a good relationship
Rapunzel’s love interest in the story is Flynn Rider, whose real name is Eugene Fitzherbert. While it may not be the best idea to fall for people running from the law, Eugene actually ends up being a good guy.
One of the best parts about their relationship is that there seems to be equality in it. I mean equality in the sense that a relationship should be two people working together and being codependent.
There are some times where he is protecting her or fighting for her, but she does not stand by idly and helps protect him or fight for him when he needs it, too.
He is her guide, she heals him, he keeps her safe, she makes sure he doesn’t get arrested. They work together, and there is an appropriate amount of give and take in the relationship.
They are also willing to sacrifice for one another. Rapunzel is willing to go with Mother Gothel if she lets Rapunzel heal Eugene’s fatal wound. Eugene cuts off Rapunzel’s hair, knowing that he will die, so she won’t be forced to live the life of a prisoner.
The TV series that follows Rapunzel after she is united with her real family is not solely focused on her relationship with Eugene. It mainly focuses on the characters trying to figure out what the mysterious magic rocks mean and how they relate to Rapunzel and her destiny.
Eugene is with her during her journey, and while they grow together, they also grow as separate individuals. They both deal with things and learn things about themselves that help them grow. They are a part of each other’s lives, but they aren’t the only thing in each other’s lives. This is the way normal healthy dating relationships should be.
This also allows for the show to focus on and develop the friendship between Cassandra and Rapunzel and the friendship between Lance and Eugene.
Rapunzel and Eugene seem to take turns proposing to each other a couple times before both of them feel ready at the same time. They didn’t get married right away like some Disney princesses and their significant others did. They waited until the right time.
It’s a redemption story
In the movie, Eugene is the thief who comes to change his ways after falling for Rapunzel, and the thugs from the Snuggly Duckling are encouraged to change because of Rapunzel’s influence, too.
It’s always good to see a redemption story that reminds people that others have good in them and can change their ways, but that doesn’t mean what they did in the past goes away.
In the show, Eugene has to deal with the implications of what happened in his past a lot. He had to deal with people he worked for, people he worked with, people he had stolen from, and the predicaments and regrets that arise from those.
But Eugene isn’t the only character in the show like this. Other characters, like Lance, try to reform from their pasts as thieves. A couple other characters start out as Rapunzel’s friends, but then turn into enemies that Rapunzel struggles with for a while until they finally see that they made a mistake and ask for forgiveness.
One character is accepted by Rupunzel but is rejected for a while by everyone else because of what he did. Another character tries to seek forgiveness, but others make it hard for her to ask for it even though Rapunzel is ready to give it.
The movie and show remind us that people can realize their mistakes and seek forgiveness and it will be given. They aren’t too far gone to be forgiven no matter how badly they messed up. It may not be easy even after they try to change their ways and people may see them as bad, but if they are really ready to change, forgiveness will come.
She uses a frying pan
One of the best things about Rapunzel is her choice of weapon. She uses a frying pan, a weapon you can do damage with but not fatally injure someone unless they get hit really hard. This is a great weapon for self-defense, especially for those who want to stay safe but don’t want to fatally hurt others.
PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Disney