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Monday, June 29, 2015

Why Anna is the Most Underrated Disney Heroine

Here’s to Heroines Special today! I didn’t have an ender for the series and I had this written and I thought it tied in nicely, since it’s about a strong heroine. So, enjoy!

She’s not like Elsa or Rapunzel or Belle. Elsa thinks she needs to be shut away for the protection of those around her. Rapunzel thinks she needs to protect herself. Belle is protecting her father.

But Anna, she doesn’t know why she’s shut up. And, it’s even worse. Because in her mind she and Elsa should be shut up together. They are both cut off from the world. Anna doesn’t know it’s because of Elsa. So she thinks that she’s not only cut off from the world, but her sister is also shutting her out.

So often you see fanart and such that reminds us how much Elsa thought she was a monster. But, I can’t help wondering if Anna felt the same way. Did she sit outside her sister’s door, wondering what on earth she had done to be cut off this way? Was she some horrible person? Had she done something? What was wrong with her?

I cry every time I hear “Do You Want to Build a Snowman.” Not because Elsa is shut in her room, but because Anna is shut out of it. She’s standing at her sister’s door, crying out to her, begging her to open it. And every time she’s rejected.

What is wrong with her? What did she do? Why would her sister shut her out this way?

And then, on Coronation Day, Elsa sees her sister for a few moments, tells her she can’t marry the guy she thinks she loves, and then storms off (literally) while freezing the kingdom.

First of all, that scene where they’re talking and Elsa says something to her and Anna’s all surprised? Breaks my heart every time. Because this is the first time her sister has spoken to her, accepted her, drawn her in. Every other time, she’s shutting her out, either with her words or her lack of them. But today, she’s engaging with her, they share an adorable sister moment. Imagine how Anna must have felt.

But then, Anna finds what she thinks is true love. You have to remember, she’s been locked away for years. Alone. And she doesn’t understand why. Everyone has shut her up, shut her out. But not Hans. Hans understands her. He accepts her. He doesn’t make her feel like a monster, like she’s not good enough, like there’s something the matter with her.

For the first time in forever her feelings are actually reciprocated. Someone loves her.

And then Elsa tells her she can’t marry him. Elsa once again shuts her out. She cuts Anna off, makes her feels like a little girl, reprimands her in a way she has no right to. Yeah, she’s her older sister, but they haven’t spoken more than a few words in years.

So yeah, Anna’s mad. She’s past thinking there’s something wrong with her. There’s something wrong with Elsa. Elsa is shutting her out. Elsa is being a jerk. Elsa has done nothing but cut her off and shut her out and ignore her and push her away and make her feel things a sister should never make her sister feel. What right does she have to tell Anna how to live her life?

And then BAM! she reveals her powers. And she kind of freezes the whole kingdom. She runs away. Once again, she shuts Anna out. Anna has to seeks her out, she’s not there. She runs from Anna. Once again, she pushes her sister away.

But this is why I love Anna. This is why she is the most wonderful heroine, in my mind.

Because she goes after her sister.

Elsa has done nothing but push her away. She’s hurt Anna, she’s shut her out, she’s denied her happiness over and over and over again. Anna could have looked for a way to stop the kingdom from freezing. She could have married Hans and become queen.

But instead she goes “Oh, that’s why she shut me out.” Instead it all clicks. Instead she takes responsibility. She made her sister upset. She hurt her. It’s her fault the kingdom is frozen.

Anna didn’t do anything wrong. All her life she’s done the right thing, reaching out to her sister, trying so hard to be her friend, to understand. And now she does. So, who cares about the past? In Anna’s mind, this is a fresh beginning. She understands now. Now that Elsa’s secret is out, there’s no reason for her to hide any longer. They can be friends again.

So she goes after Elsa. This is the girl who has been locked in a palace her whole life. Yet, nothing daunts her in her quest to finds her sister. Not terrible weather, not wolves, not a grumpy ice man, not even giant cliffs. Nothing will stop her from finding her sister.

And, when she finally does finds her, Elsa shuts her out once more. But Anna is standing in front of her sister. For the first time in forever they’re standing face to face, just the two of them. And she’s not going anywhere. She has dreamed of this moment for years. Day after day she sat outside or walked past Elsa’s door and she dreamed of the moment when Elsa’s door opened to her.

And now that it has, she’s not going anywhere. She’s not going to be shut out again.

But then Elsa does the thing she does best. She doesn’t mean to, but she’s afraid. So she hurts Anna once more. She freezes her heart and sends a giant snow monster after her.

Anna has tried and tried and tried to do the right thing. She has pushed and pushed to be in her sister’s life. For years she’s been shut out but she still keeps trying. She loves her sister. No matter how many times Elsa shuts her out Anna still keeps trying.

And Elsa hurts her every time.

I’m not trying to make Elsa out to be cruel or some horrible person. Because I know Elsa does not want to hurt her sister. She thinks everything she does is protecting her. But Anna has no idea. In her mind, Elsa is kind of the villain of this story.

But she does not give up hope for her. She doesn’t forget the days when they were friends. She pushes and pushes and pushes for those days to come back. She wants to be her sister’s best friend again. She has been nothing but hurt for years, but she never once gives up hope.

So, the last time Anna saw her sister, she was trying to kill her. At least, Anna must feel that way. But that showdown scene, Anna is standing there, it’s storming all around her, she just found out that the person she thought loved her didn’t. She’s been shut out again. Just like she has for the last so many years of her life.

But she sees it, across the ice. Hans, with his sword raised, about to kill Elsa. Her sister. The girl who tried to kill her. But also the sister she has so many childhood memories of. The sister she has spent years being cut off by. But the girl she has been trying to be best friends with for the same amount of years.

As far as she knows, Elsa is a monster. You have to remember that. Elsa has done nothing but hurt people. She has caused nothing but trouble. And it’s quite possible that killing her will also kill this storm that is overtaking her kingdom.

But while Anna may be a princess, she was never raised as one. She was never taught to put her kingdom first or to think of her people. She spent her entire life caring about Elsa. Her sister is the one who holds first place in her heart. No matter what she has done, no matter what else she is, Elsa is her sister.

And Anna loves her.

So often people think Anna sacrificed herself for her sister. And she did. But they ignore the fact that she also sacrificed herself for the monster. For the person who has done nothing but hurt her. Who has done nothing but hurt everyone. I would give my life for my sister in a heartbeat. But then, she’s never hurt me.

Not like that.

We’re sisters, so yeah, we’ve fought. We’ve hurt each other. But, in the end, she’ll always build a snowman with me. In the end, I’ll always open the door for her.

I honestly can’t say that I would give my life, so quickly, so easily, for someone who hurt me the way Elsa hurt Anna. I don’t think that my first thought would be to jump between her and the man trying to kill her. I would hesitate. I would have to think about it, to make a decision, and by then it would be too late.

Anna doesn’t hesitate. She doesn’t have to think or consider or argue with herself. No matter what Elsa does, she’s always her sister. Never the monster, never the girl who hurt her, but her sister.

Even Belle- the best Disney Princess ever- doesn’t go that far. She gives up her life, yes. But for her father. Who adores her. I’m not belittling her sacrifice, because it’s beautiful, and I cry every time I watch that scene. But, Anna, she goes even farther than that.

Everyone wants to praise Disney for their character development with Elsa. She’s complex, she’s strong, she doesn’t need a man.

Anna doesn’t need a man either. Anna needs someone in her life. And ultimately, she needs (and wants) Elsa. She looks to Hans because he’s giving her the attention she has craved for years and years. She’s been shut out, she’s been alone, she’s been hurt. And suddenly he comes along and offers her exactly what she wants. Can we fault her for falling for him? If it had been a girl, if another princess had come along and offered Anna friendship, we would understand.

And, is Elsa really strong and independent if she only hurts the people around her? She’s not a strong and independent female. She’s a hurt and confused young woman who learns to be a strong and independent female.

But Anna, she remains steadfast. Through all of her sister’s learning and growing, she’s there, never giving up on her. How often do we consider giving up on someone? How often do we wonder if people can really change? Are they even worth the trouble if they can? Is my heart an acceptable price? Should I let them continue to hurt me?

I’m not saying you should let people hurt you. Whether you remain faithful to someone who has hurt you or walk away is a decision only you can make, with God’s help.

But, I don’t think there are enough stories of such selflessness in the world. We’re taught that strong women walk away. You hurt me, I hurt you. Or, you hurt me, I’m gone. We don’t teach people to fight, to stand by someone who has hurt them because they were once your best friend. We teach people to let go. We’re so cynical in this world, so ingrained with the idea that people can’t change, not truly.

But people can. Only through the grace of God, but they can change. As Christians, we should be able to look at a person who has hurt us and forgive them. A person is always worthy of our hope that they can change. Never give up on someone. Even if things are so bad you have to walk away (Anna had to run away from Elsa- she sent a giant snow monster after her), even then, don’t stop hoping they can change. Don’t stop praying for them.

Anna doesn’t give up on Elsa. And, in a lot of ways, I think she’s a picture of Christ. He never gives up on his people. No matter how many times we tell him to go away, he still stands at the door to our heart and begs us to come outside with him. He remembers the days when we were truly his and never gives up. No matter how far we go, no matter how much we hurt him, he still laid down his life for us. And, you have to remember, God is outside of time. When Christ died, he knew everything you would ever do. He knew every time you would sin, every single word you would speak against him, every time you forgot to make time for him, every time you shut him out.

But he still laid down his life for you.

And, as Christians, are we not called to be like Christ? Can we say that a person is not worthy of our love, which is nothing compared to Christ’s, when he says that each and every person is worthy of his? As Casting Crowns put it “Jesus paid much too high a price for us to pick and choose who should come.”

Anna never gives up. She never hesitates to reach out to her sister, to love. As Christ never hesitates to reach out and love us. So too are we called to act toward people. Never give up on people.

When you are tempted to, just remember that Christ never gave up on you. Imagine where you would be today if he had.

How about you? Do you agree or disagree with this assessment? Who do you think is another underrated Disney heroine?


  1. I love this! You are very perceptive. I still think Anna was showing an enormous lack of judgement by agreeing to marry Hans on the first day she met him, but yes, she was too innocent to fully understand what she was dealing with. I love Frozen because it is so full of wonderful things that are growing increasingly rare in today's world. Sacrifice, strong family bonds. Innocence. I love how innocent Anna is. So few people these days are innocent, and the world is hurting because of it. And Elsa, she has common sense, a heroine with COMMON SENSE! Yes, she did eventually let her emotions rule her, which wasn't at all good, but she managed to come out all right in the end. And I love that you brought up the fact that Anna's sacrifice was so risky. I don't think a lot of people pick up on that fact. And I agree with you about how people are becoming more and more unforgiving. The "three strikes and you're out" mentality is heartbreaking. I know Christians who say this sort of thing and it is so wrong. As Christians we are called to forgive. No, we aren't supposed to let someone walk all over us, but we are to forgive. Not let someone to suffer because "He/she hurt my feelings."


    1. Elsa having common sense? hell your only referring to that 'you can't marry a man' quote. Everything else, she acts like that she lacks one. During the reprise, she couldn't keep her sense together. Hell Elsa could have just explained to anna everything and everything would have gone smoother. I don't really get why elsa fans paint her smart when everything films contradicts this


    2. Elsa having common sense? hell your only referring to that 'you can't marry a man' quote. Everything else, she acts like that she lacks one. During the reprise, she couldn't keep her sense together. Hell Elsa could have just explained to anna everything and everything would have gone smoother. I don't really get why elsa fans paint her smart when everything films contradicts this

  2. I just want to make a major point here: Anna never saw Elsa as a "monster." Anna continued to love Elsa _unconditionally_ no matter what, and was always there by her side. Anna only saw Elsa as what she was: a terrified young woman who had an internal conflict. Anna saw Elsa as her sister, who needed her protection and love. That was why Anna sacrificed herself for Elsa - out of love. When Elsa asked why she sacrificed herself, all Anna said was "I love you."

    Anna knew that Elsa was good, even if she didn't "see" it. She could "feel" it. Anna is a special character because of her faith and how she sees the good in everyone. She is intelligent and perceptive. For example, notice when Elsa says "I'm just trying to protect you," Anna starts singing the Reprise. One of her lines are "I finally understand", which I believe is the response to Elsa saying she's doing it for Anna's protection. After Elsa accidentally strikes Anna in the heart, Anna tries to reassure her that it'll be ok. Anna can see it was an accident, and never really blames Elsa for it.

    To Anna it doesn't matter what Elsa does, because Anna REFUSES to see Elsa as a monster. To Anna, she never was and never will be a monster. To Anna, Elsa is, and always will be, her older sister.