Mirror Mirror On the Wall: Tell Me What You Think of Me

March 31, 2010 at 5:43 pm (The Gaze)

The mirror plays an important role in Disney films.  It informs its heroines, heroes and villains whether or not they are fitting into Society’s Dominant Culture.  These Disney Characters look into the mirror for guidance, the mirror in return informs them of the cultural norms.

In Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, the Evil Queen asks the question “Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all”.  As she asks this question, the Evil Queen is ensuring that she is still part of Dominant Culture.  The mirror is representing a “patriarchal voice of judgment that rules [her] self evaluation” (Barzilai, 521).  Unfortunately, the mirror informs her that she is no longer deemed fairest of them all and as a result is no longer part of this society as she now has “brown spots on her hand /and four whiskers over her lip” (Sexton, 40 -41).

The Evil Queen looses her Dominant status because she is no longer seen as an object of desire.  Men, especially the prince no longer value her beauty.  Instead, they’ve moved on to ogle Snow White’s “lips red as rose, hair black as ebony and skin white as snow”, making her the ideal woman in dominant culture.  This ideal in not only states by the magic mirror.  The wishing well also affirms Snow White’s beauty.  Singing at the wishing well, Snow White is wishing “for the one I love, to find me, today”.  Once Prince Charming finds her, they both stand at the wishing well and see their reflection in the water.  This reflection establishes their statuses in Dominant Culture, as they both embody what society deems valuable.  Prince Charming is White, strong and rich, while Snow White is young, beautiful and innocent.

Women aren’t the only figures facing this judgment.  Male characters in Disney also face the same discrimination at the hands of mirrors.  In Beauty and the Beast, both Gaston and the Beast are connected to mirrors and to their physical traits (Erb, 63).  Once Belle walks along the halls of the West Wing, she and the viewers see that the Beast has destroyed all mirrors and pictures of himself (you tube clip up to 2 minutes).  The Beast is not able to see his reflection or look at paintings of his human self, as it reminds him of what he once was.  Moreover, the mirrors force him to see that he is no longer human; therefore, further separating him from the Dominant Culture.  Comparatively, Gaston loves admiring his beauty in the mirror.  Gaston known that physically, he fits into Dominant cultural – as all the town folk either wants to be like or with Gaston.  As a result, the mirror reinforces Gaston’s assertion that he is the perfect specimen of a man.

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