We have this false idea that fairy tales are about weak and passive heroines, damsels in distress. So we are always fighting against a fairy tale legacy that doesn’t exist.

We all know Disney has a reputation for sweet, passive princesses and throughout this series I’ve seen where that is both accurate and also unfounded. Especially in the 90s, Disney movies were full of independent, interesting heroines. Belle and Ariel are pretty accurate representations of their fairy tale. Jasmine, however, Disney improved considerably.

I will confess I didn’t actually read the tale for this post. I wikipedia’d it and also referenced Project Disney for comparisons.

There is a princess in Aladdin. He falls in love with her at first sight and woos her with a parade of slaves and jewels. But in the movie, before the parade there is that moment where Jasmine runs away and they meet briefly. This gives their relationship context and a measure of depth. There’s laughter that could believably lead to affection; there’s commonality in how they see the world and what they want from life. It’s a great example of the good sort of insta-love because there is attraction and a spark that can become something more.

In the tale, Princess Badroulbadour is rather passive and gullible, though also a little brave and wily. Jasmine is fierce. She’s defiant. She’s clever and also wily. Perhaps my favorite is how beautifully honest she is – completely unafraid to tell the men in her life when they’re fools.

This is no passive “Disney Princess” the way we say those words to dismiss the idea of princesses as dainty, soft-spoken, gossamer women. Jasmine does nothing but make her own choices no matter how many times she’s told she can’t.

Apsara-Stock ~ ElenaDudina ~ welder-stock ~ Della-Stock
It’s an interesting balance to tell a story about this woman who is trapped by the law and her culture and a world of expectations; to see her strain against these boundaries; to fight for more even when it seems hopeless. The fact that she’s trapped doesn’t make her helpless. Or we’d all be in trouble because so many times our own culture makes us feel trapped – in the possibilities for our careers or salaries – in the expectations of society – in the dismissal of a world built by old, white men.

But Jasmine reminds us we do not have to accept the cage we’re given. She is defiant and occasionally discouraged. She is forthright even when its unpopular with the men around her. And ultimately, she has her happy ending.

Perhaps one day we will too.


Haven’t seen Aladdin in ages? Angie has a great comparison of the fairy tale and Disney movie as part of her Project Disney.

~ More fairy tale legacies ~

Sleeping Beauty ~ Cinderella ~ Beauty and the Beast ~ The Little Mermaid ~ Snow White and Rose Red ~ Rapunzel ~ Jasmine ~ Twelve Dancing Princesses ~ Snow White ~ The Snow Queen

Posted in: fairy tales ~


10 responses to “Fairy Tale Legacy: Jasmine

  1. I must admit, out of all the fairy tales I know of, I’ve never really much wondered about the original Aladdin tale, probably because I’d never really heard anything about it outside of the Disney movie. But thanks to your post I can really appreciate what Disney added in to make the romance, well, more romantic. “But Jasmine reminds us we do not have to accept the cage we’re given.” <– I love this! While Jasmine is obviously much less passive than many other Disney princesses, it's easy to forget that she had so much to go against. Lovely post (I love all your posts in this feature)!

    • Annie

      This series is perhaps my favorite thing I’ve done on my blog πŸ™‚ I’m so glad you enjoy it too!!

      I was surprised by everything I discovered about Jasmine/this fairy tale since I’d never read the original tale either. That’s been some of the most fun of this series – all the things I discover and then getting to share that!

  2. This makes me want to rewatch Aladdin. XD I looove the more Persian stories, ajfdlksa, ANYWAY, bUT THIS WHOLE POST IS SO TRUE AND I AGREE. I’ve never really analysed Jasmine before, but she totally does push her boundaries of what’s expected of her. As a kid, I just assumed she was being a rebellious teen, but ugh, she was being forced to marry an old dude and always trapped in her palace. She totally does fight for freedom. GO JASMINE.

    • Annie

      I liked Jasmine until I started researching this post and by the time I was done, I really loved her. She is such a fun and strong character. Really, I’ve realized all the 90s Disney heroines (Jasmine, Belle, Ariel and Nala) were pretty great and we don’t give them enough credit. But Jasmine might be my favorite.

  3. Ahh, it’s been so long since I last watched Aladdin. I was a kid then, so I probably didn’t really mind the princess’s behavior, one way or another. Since Jasmine’s original story is less well-known as Cinderella or the others, it’s really nice to see a blog post focusing on her.
    By the way, I don’t know whehter you’ve heard about this: http://thedailyprophecy.blogspot.com/2015/07/july-link-up-reading-challenge.html ? It’s a nice challenge to participate in and your posts sound like they’d be a good fit.

    • Annie

      I totally want to watch Aladdin again too! I hadn’t seen that challenge – thanks for the link πŸ™‚

  4. Ooh, you know, I’ve never actually thought about how the Aladdin movie is an example of good insta-love. You’re right though, it works because it’s believable. There’s that initial spark and you can see the instant connection because it’s communicated through their interactions not just focused on their hot looks. I know it’s not the focal point of your post, but I just had to comment on it because it made me think!

    • Annie

      I love that you commented on a tiny part of the post! honestly… I didn’t think of that aspect of it until I was writing this post πŸ™‚ But as soon as I did I was like, “yeah – good insta-love!” It almost warrants a post of its own with gifs, but I am not a gif-master and so unlikely to do such a thing πŸ˜‰

    • Annie

      I hadn’t really realized how awesome the 90s princesses are either until I started researching these posts. It’s interesting to me that Disney has these really interesting princesses in the movies but then the kind of consumer perception (that you see in the Disneyland characters or in the consumer products merchandise) is the softer, sweeter version rather than the strong-willed, opinionated parts of their character. I wish Disney understood what they have in these princesses better.

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