Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Someday My Prince Will Come" Analysis

The first Disney princess, Snow White, sets the stage for the stereotypical princess for decades to come. Based on one of the Brothers’ Grimm fairytales, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was made in 1937, making history as the first full-length animated film in America, produced by Walt Disney ( The film features a conflict between the vain Queen and beautiful Snow White. The Queen becomes jealous of Snow White’s beauty and eventually tricks Snow White by giving her a bite from a poisonous apple (perhaps an allusion to the biblical Eve?). Luckily, she merely falls into a deep sleep only to be awakened by true love’s kiss and to live happily ever after with her prince. One of the most iconic songs from the film is entitled “Some Day My Prince Will Come” and occurs when Snow White is singing to the seven dwarfs in their cottage in the woods. The song exemplifies both patriarchal control and traditional ideas of femininity through its lyrics (Larry Morey) and musicality (Frank Churchill).

Traditional gender roles are explained through the patriarchal tone of the song. Men wrote both the lyrics and the music, creating this patriarchal tone. For example, the lyrics suggest that Snow White conforms to traditional gender roles by stating that she cannot reach her dream of eternal happiness until she gets married: “To be happy forever I know…and wedding bells will ring, some day when my dreams come true”. This reflects the patriarchic structure of society during the time in which the film was produced. Historically, the film occurred a few years before the U.S. entered World War II, in which women rarely had a chance to gain social independence. The lyrics support the strict gendered structure of society in which men dominate the public sphere while women have fewer social opportunities. The one opportunity available to women during this time was to get married, as expressed explicitly by Snow White. She does not vocalize any other vocational or educational opportunities.

In addition to the patriarchal message, the musicality and visual imagery of “Some Day My Prince Will Come” showcase a stereotypically feminine princess. Adriana Caselotti, Soprano I, sings Snow White in a very high vocal register. The dreamy, legato (smooth and connected) melody is strung together with a carefree and simple chord structure. Snow White lingers on each tone in a high pitched vibrato, evoking longing and the romanticization of heterosexual love. The visual imagery also presents stereotypical femininity. For example, numerous animals surround Snow White as she motheringly serenades the dwarfs. Snow White exemplifies traditional femininity through her connection to nature and her role as a mother-type figure to the dwarfs.