hans

Slamming the door in Hans’s face

The Disney movie Frozen has been praised by many for being “original” with its main conflict, that being the relationship between Anna, the film’s princess, and Hans, who is supposed to be the evil Prince Charming. However, I disagree with the view that the relationship issues Frozen presents are well written and worthy of praise, which damages the entire conflict of the movie.

Let’s start by addressing Anna and Hans’s motivations for wanting to marry and why they don’t add up. Anna is the princess of Arendelle, beneath her older sister, Elsa, who will become queen of Arendelle. Hans, similarly, is a prince of the Southern Isles and 13th in line to his throne. Now, you may argue that this gives them something in common, and it does. However, these traits are not what one would look for in a relationship when you factor in hypergamy on Anna’s part and Hans’s lust for power. Anna would not want to marry Hans because she has everything to lose and nothing to gain from the marriage, due to him having no chance of becoming king of the Southern Isles, making this relationship seem unbelievable from the outset. Not only that, but she barely knows Hans so there’s nothing in it for her spiritually either. All she knows about Hans is that he’s handsome and that he’s charming, so essentially Anna just wants to shag him. This relationship plot does not work at all and makes Anna look like a dumb, everyday teenage girl, which is not what she is as she is a princess and would therefore have been tutored to seek higher social power.

And as for Hans, his plan is to marry Anna and then murder Elsa to become king. However, I don’t see why Hans would rely on Anna stupidly wanting to marry him and why he would stoop to murder when his intended victim could just skewer him on an ice spike, so his plan fails on every level. The only reason why Hans gets anywhere in the movie is because of factors that are out of his control, such as the eternal winter, which he could not have planned for, and because of Anna’s badly written idiocy. And this is one of Disney’s best villains because why again? He has such a painfully obvious alternative, which is to marry Elsa. He wouldn’t have to murder anyone, he’d become prince regent straight away and … oh, hang on, Elsa wouldn’t marry him either because of hypergamy. This is the fundamental reason why the conflict in this movie is impossible for me to believe: neither Anna, Elsa nor any princess would ever marry Hans because he’s 13th in line to the throne. How does he expect to marry anyone socially higher than him?

However, despite Hans’s plan being total bilge that makes Baldrick’s plans from the Blackadder series look like masterfully genius works of art in comparison, I think the biggest problem with Hans is that he does not fulfil what the writers of Frozen intended him to fulfil. Allow me to explain: Hans is meant to be a dig at the Prince Charming character type commonly associated with Disney films of old. However, Hans is nothing like a Prince Charming in that he’s 13th in line for the throne, whereas all the other Prince Charmings were heirs to their thrones. In Cinderella, Prince Charming as he is called has no established brothers or sisters, meaning he is the heir to the throne. Cinderella, on the other hand, is a servant girl and as such she has an opportunity for advancement by attracting him with her looks. The same goes for Sleeping Beauty, in which Prince Phillip is presented as heir to his throne who falls in love with Aurora upon hearing her sing and seeing her looks. On the other hand, Aurora is living in the forest at this point in the plot, with no idea of her royal heritage. So when she meets Phillip, who is obviously a nobleman, she sees opportunity for social and political advancement, again appealing to hypergamy. And this is also true for Snow White, in which Prince Florian meets Snow White after she has been reduced to a mere servant of the jealous queen. Florian has no siblings and can only be assumed to be heir to his own throne. Florian falls for Snow’s beauty and Snow falls for Florian’s capability to help her reclaim her royal standing. All of these Prince Charmings hold something that Hans from Frozen does not. They are open doors for the social advancement of women. Hans is more similar to Lord Rathbone from Shanghai Knights, and even then, Lord Rathbone was a better character who could realistically kill off Queen Victoria and all the other heirs, which he could blame on Lin. Hans, on the other hand, intends to kill off a cryokinetic Queen who could kill him easily in self-defence. Hans also takes aspects from a certain other character type synonymous with Disney. Hans is handsome, charming, and seemingly virtuous. He entices his social superior Anna with his looks and seeks to use her for social advantage as he is in no position to do so himself. Obviously, this makes Hans evil, as he’s using his sexuality to move up in society. I mean, it’s unconscionable for a man to do what literally every Disney princess ever has done to achieve a higher social standing. For a man, this behavior is mooching and creeping around Anna, whereas for a woman this behavior is beguiling a man with your beauty and winding up the victim of male objectification. And herein lies the fundamental double standard of Frozen: Hans is doing the exact same thing that every Disney princess in history has done. Except Hans is evil. Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora are all sweet.

Nothing about this villain makes sense to me. The moral message his character tries to convey about men not being what they seem is compromised by the fact that he’s not a Prince Charming in any way and as a result Frozen’s conflict suffers heavily. As conflict is the driving force of any work of fiction, this creates a gaping chasm of a flaw in the movie, destroying any enjoyment I could possibly squeeze out of it.

And remind me, why is this film praised again?

Gregory McCann

Gregory McCann

Avid gamer and tea drinking student from the North of England, Gregory is a quiet and stoic little man. But give him a computer, an internet connection and an idea to work with and he suddenly transforms quite drastically.
Gregory McCann

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Gregory McCann

Avid gamer and tea drinking student from the North of England, Gregory is a quiet and stoic little man. But give him a computer, an internet connection and an idea to work with and he suddenly transforms quite drastically.

  • David Spektorov

    I have to seriously disagree. I mean on very many levels. Not because I like Frozen. Far From it. I verily dislike the movie and wrote a 4 page essay on just how it doesn’t work. However I still find your analysis crude, and I am again forced to defend something I dislike based off of principle: A attempting to Woo a Princess is a Longterm plan. The fact you only see everything in black and white (Hypergamy so that she would never marry!) are kinda worrying. Thats like saying “She’s not hot so the guy would never marry!”. In fact I would say yeah, its kinda sexist the way you view the characters in the movie. Anna is desperate and lonely so she jumps the nearest hot guy she can find. People have had affairs with people under them because they are inexperienced, or lonely or the other person is charming and hot. Whilst I won’t go into super duper details over how I find your analysis flawed, Il say this: The reasoning for Anna to Jump Hans makes sense.

    • Honey Badger Brigade

      I believe the reason why he’s suggesting that hypergamy is an essential principle is because Hans is supposed to be a sinister deconstruction of the “prince charming” archetype. As such one of the major features of prince charming is his ability to grant the presumptive princess a better life. Thus the prince charming archetype necessitates a certain hypergamous quality in the princesses involved.

      Instead Hans is something else entirely. Anna can grant _him_ a better life, like prince charming does for all of the various disney princesses. Therefore in this equation it’s Anna that functions as Hans’ stepping stone to a better life… and that is presumably part of what makes him unsavoury.

      • http://npd.de Vinzenz Stemberg

        Yeah pretty much. Despite them trying to push so far away from that idea with dialogue & action, ANNA still remains the ‘prince charming’ in the setup between the two. Disney failed at deconstructing it since the ‘PRINCESS’ charming is still the kind elevated noble-type.
        It’s the upstart peasant ‘girl’ who is evil and seeking advancement at the cost of another. They screwed it up by reversing the sexes AFTER already reversing the footing. Doing just one would have worked. Doing both turned everything just really weird.

  • Chris Wedge

    My main gripe with Frozen is how Elsa never got a on-screen comeuppance for freezing the entire kingdom, including things like crops. Or how Hans never used that as an excuse to rally popular support (but then again, his assassination plot would have likely succeeded in that case, squishy wizard in melee range with sword-wielding fighter and all that – and you can’t have the bad guys win for any reason ever, no matter how good the lesson to children would be from having that happen on occasion)

    It’s a little too blatant about how it’s a tweaking of The Snow Queen in that regard.

    But using “hypergamy” as an excuse for why the pathologically lonely Anna wouldn’t fall for Hans at the drop of a hat is both assuming that “as a woman, Anna must be hypergamous” (fairly similar to the whole “all men are” thing, honestly) and it also ignores her main characterisation.

    And – as I hinted at before – Elsa’s unique ice powers are actually a good reason for Hans to kill her. Not being as damn Villain Obvious about it as he was, but just *le knife in Elsa’s chest* when she gets close – and then give the people (and Anna) the whole speech about how Elsa was a danger to you all, because notice how the winter disappeared when the Snow Queen was dead? (Well, assuming it works that way – and considering that Elsa can dispel it, it not working that way would only be a blatant twist to avoid villain victory) Offensive magic doesn’t help a jot when you’re dead already.

    • Honey Badger Brigade

      I believe the author is using hypergamy because in order for Hans to be a true deconstruction of the Prince Charming archetype he needs to be able to offer Anna a better life, which all prince charmings do for their respective princesses. It’s not that Anna wouldn’t necessarily fall for Hans as is (although princesses were generally expected to look for social opportunities for status advancement with potential marriage), but that if he’s supposed to be the prince charming archetype there should be an element of hypergamy on her part in the relationship.

      • David Spektorov

        Thats a very good deconstruction of why Hans doesn’t work as a deconstruction or even Subversion of Prince Charming, however the person clearly stated that he didn’t believe that Anna would marry Prince Charming without Royal Heritage because Hypergamy. Now guys, Im very thankful of how respectful you are towards men. It makes me all tingly inside and feel better about myself. However that doesn’t mean that I won’t feel that when things go to far, Il call it what it is. Its either poor phrasing or an actual case of sexism.

  • Noor

    Why do you assume there is no way that Anna could marry Hans because of her status? I’m not denying hypergamy is frequently a factor in marriages, but it’s hardly the only one, and it’s pretty clear that Hans manages to charm Anna by talking with her. And yes, it’s clear her decision to marry him after a night was an immature one, especially after Elsa says exactly that she’s not going to approve because of that.

    If you believe only women marry higher, consider this: every single princess story has a long line of male suitors. A hundred bachelors asking her father for her hand in marriage and attempting to woo her all the time because of her royal status. What is that, if not hypergamy? Elizabeth I had dozens of suitors from court.

    Male hypergamy just shows up differently. The princess-with-a-million-suitors does not work for her status, she is born with it. It’s different from the notion of men having to rising up in status to be attractive, but it’s still hypergamy. On the topic of fairy tales, Ella Enchanted (the movie) comes to mind right now and in that story, her father marries the evil stepmother for her money, and he’s not portrayed at all as evil for doing so, just helpless and in need of the money.

    Also, consider that beauty standards across time and cultures have always been based on what is associated with the upper class, with nobility. Tanned skin used to be unattractive because it was associated with poor women who worked in the fields, but today tanned skin is seen as beautiful as it is associated with heiresses who have the time and money to spend leisurely lying in tanning beds and beaches.

    The reason Hans is considered a good villain is because he’s not evil from the start. Pretty much every other fairytale has the characters being sorted into good and evil from the beginning, but with Hans it’s a decent lesson for kids that people aren’t what they appear to be.

    And really? Comparing a boy charming a girl only to kill her sister and come into power, versus a girl charming a prince by her own nature or at the very least, without any nefarious intentions? You’re really going to compare Hans who wants to charm Anna only to kill her sister and become king, with Cinderella who dances with a prince and falls in love with him without any intention to, even a reluctance to?

    I’m also pretty sure that there have been female characters in fairy tales who seduce men only for their status, and aren’t portrayed as good at all. Weren’t Cinderella’s evil stepsisters wanting to marry Prince Charming as well for his status? It’s when you’re not poor and are only interested in someone for money and especially if you use manipulative tactics to charm them, that’s portrayed as evil, regardless of gender. If you happen to fall in love with a prince and his status is just a bonus to you, that’s a fairytale ending, and I don’t find anything wrong there at all.

    I’m not saying there aren’t problems with the princess stories. I for one wish we had more prince stories – in fact it would be a very interesting reversal to have a story about a poor boy who dreams of falling in love with a princess. (Though Great Expectations’ Pip and Estella comes close.) And personally, my biggest beef with Frozen is that the only good male character, Kristoff, is the self-sacrificing guy who does everything without complaint, and almost gets screwed over romantically.