Literary Analysis: Frozen

07 Mar
Literary Analysis: Frozen

Overall Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Storyline: Two orphaned princesses struggle to remain friends, despite the magical obstacles that try to force them apart.

Now, I saw a lot of movies last year, including Catching Fire, Thor 2, and Desolation of Smaug. But Disney’s Frozen is, by far and away, the best movie I saw that year. So of course, being me, I felt I needed to analyze the whole thing. And this is the result.

This is an in-depth review and analysis of Frozen. If you do not want the entire story laid out for you in an objective manner, then don’t read this post.

Central Conflict: Can Elsa and Anna maintain a close sisterly relationship?

Inciting Incident: Elsa freezes Anna and is forced into isolation.

First Disaster: Anna accidentally provokes Elsa into freezing Arrendelle, resulting in Elsa running off into the mountains.

Second Disaster: Elsa refuses to come back with Anna, creates a snow monster to drive her away, and unknowingly freezes Anna’s heart.

Third Disaster: Hans betrays Anna, locking both her and Elsa away, and tells Elsa that she killed Anna.

Climax: Anna turns away from Kristoff and throws herself in front of Elsa, saving her life.

Theme: True love is unconditional—Agape. Love will thaw.

The overarching theme of Frozen, as I stated above, is agape—unconditional—love. Period. End of story. That movie brilliantly illustrated what love looks like, in just a few of its different forms. See, in the world today, and specifically America, I feel that we have kinda lost sight of the meaning of love. When we say “I love you,” that almost always refers to a lover. There are other forms of love! I am not at all ashamed to admit that I have multiple guy friends whom I love, and I most certainly do not mean that I “have a crush on them,” whatever that means. I love them with a different kind of love.

Now, the Greeks had a really awesome way of handling all these different facets of love. Each type had its own name. What people today normally think of when they think of the word love is actually Eros, or “romantic love.” Unconditional love, the type that Frozen deals with, is Agape. There are two other types as well—Storge, or familial love, and Philia, brotherly love. Frozen deals mainly with Agape.

Elsa and Anna show each other agape. This is evident all throughout the movie, right from the start. When Elsa and Anna are playing in the snow and Elsa first freezes Anna’s head, it is clear that Elsa loves her sister with a deep and powerful love. The fear of losing her was so great that Elsa’s ice powers were triggered. And after that moment, everything Elsa does is to protect her sister. Moving out of her room, isolating herself from the world, not letting Anna know anything… Sure, it was hard on Anna, but it was immensely painful for Elsa. She literally hid herself from all human contact for the sake of her sister. That takes agape love.

Kristoff loves Anna unconditionally. Again, everything Kristoff does portrays this, from risking his life countless times to protect her to giving her up and walking away for her benefit. Frozen sends a message for both girls and boys: Girls, look for a Kristoff, a man who will put your needs first. And boys, be Kristoffs. I’m just going to quote Tom Hiddleston here: “This generation has lost the true meaning of romance. There are so many songs that disrespect women. You can’t treat the woman you love as a piece of meat. You should treat your love like a princess. Give her love songs, something with real meaning. Maybe I’m old fashioned but to respect the woman you love should be a priority.”

If Tom Hiddleston agrees with me, then it must be right. Right? 😉

Now, I could go on forever on just the many different ways Kristoff showed Anna love, but it’s time to move on. I’ve still got a lot to say, so bear with me. 😛

Olaf. The spunky little snowman that everybody adores shows agape just as perfectly as Elsa or Kristoff do. Why, he even has the best quote! “Love is putting someone else’s needs above yours.”

Ok, story time: When I was in the theater, during that scene with Olaf, there was a line in it that made me laugh. I thought it was just so ironic and so well done as comedy that that was just what it was supposed to be, but since nobody else laughed and I got weird glances, I guess not. XD Remember when Anna tells Olaf to skedaddle so that he won’t melt? And then Olaf immediately plops himself down beside Anna and promises to wait till they’ve found some act of true love to save her? I thought that was hilarious. Know why? That right there, in and of itself, was an act of true love. If the characters really understood how to break the spell like they thought they did, they wouldn’t have needed Kristoff, because the very fact that Olaf was in that room was an act of true love.

Which brings up an excellent point. Only an act of true love could save Anna. But that’s not the whole deal. If it were, then as soon as Kristoff dropped her off at the castle the spell would have been broken. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t just any act of true love that would thaw Anna’s heart. It was an act of true love on Anna’s part. And that right there makes for some powerful imagery. In order to thaw a frozen or hardened heart, you yourself have to show love to others.

Next up is the opposite end of the spectrum—people, or rather, one person, who most certainly did not show agape. Have you guessed who it is? You probably have. Hans. I have witnessed three whole theaters collectively gasp when Hans reveals himself as a villain, and by the way, that included two teenage hipster boys in one case. XD

One of my favorite lines of the movie concerns Hans, and is said by Elsa: “You can’t marry a man you just met.” There’s a theme not often heard in Disney movies! And this movie does a fantastic job of showing why. You can’t marry a man you just met because you can’t possibly hope to know his true intentions after only one song together! Now, I’m not usually into Taylor Swift, but I’m quoting her here: “When I was a little girl I used to read fairy tales. In fairy tales you meet Prince Charming and he’s everything you ever wanted. In fairy tales the bad guy is very easy to spot. The bad guy is always wearing a black cape so you always know who he is. Then you grow up and you realize that Prince Charming is not as easy to find as you thought. You realize the bad guy is not wearing a black cape and he’s not easy to spot; he’s really funny, and he makes you laugh, and he has perfect hair.”

Doesn’t this pretty much describe Hans? He seems perfect at first, but in reality that’s only the facade he’s put up for himself. In reality he’s the bag guy. And this, kids, is why you can’t marry a guy you just met, and why you should never trust too early.

And, with that done, I’m basically going to spend the rest of this post on my favorite character… Elsa! There is so much to Elsa that I’m only going to skim the surface here, but here goes.

Everything she did, from day one, was to protect Anna. Starting from when she hit Anna with her ice powers and immediately ran to her and started freezing everything. At that point, she was a child, and her powers weren’t as strong as they were later on, so the very fact that she caused that much ice out of just fear tells us that that was a lot of fear. Fear of losing Anna.

And what happens next? Through the extreme measures she and her parents took to protect everybody, including Elsa and Anna, from Elsa’s powers, Elsa pretty much lost the very thing she was trying to save. But that didn’t matter to her: At least Anna was safe. And here we have our first instance of Elsa putting Anna’s needs before her own.

Fast forward to the coronation. I don’t know how on earth Disney did what it did, but you can see the love in Elsa’s face as she starts talking to Anna. Actually, I’m gonna quote something a bit esoteric here… Ender’s Game. Without giving away the story I’ll just quote this one line: “Believe me, Ender, people change in six years, in ten years. Your sister . . . will be a woman when you see her again. . . .You’ll be strangers. You’ll still love her, Ender, but you won’t know her.” And I think that that quote correlates to Frozen perfectly. Elsa and Anna have been apart for so long that they don’t know each other anymore… But they still love each other.

And then Anna and Hans ask Elsa’s blessing on their marriage. Elsa’s refusal was an act of love too, really. She knew better than Anna did why you can’t marry a man you just met. She even tried to have the conversation alone, so as not to make Hans awkward. She wasn’t being cruel… she was being realistic. But of course, after years of being locked away with no explanation, this is when Anna finally snaps.

I’m just going to focus on Elsa’s response to everything Anna says: “Then leave.” In Elsa’s eyes you can see the anguish and the love behind that sentence. In Anna’s you see only pain and betrayal. But what Elsa said here is yet another instance of agape… She did all that she did to protect her sister, and here, she realizes that it’d be better for Anna if she went completely away. Elsa is willing to give up Anna completely if it means her safety, and as we see later, that’s a big factor in the story.

Because if Anna won’t leave Arrendelle, then there is only one other option. Elsa must leave herself. After Anna triggers a terrible display of Elsa’s power she runs off to the North Mountain where she can be who she is without hurting anyone. It is there that she sings Let It Go, a song I wrote an entirely different blog post for. It can be found here.

Since the next time you see Elsa is when she freezes Anna’s heart, that’s the next place I’m going to go. When Elsa was told that she covered Arrendelle in snow, and consequently became emotional to the point of starting another blizzard, the first thing she says after realizing how much fear she had is “You’re not safe here!” Because that’s what Elsa’s doing all of this for, and that’s all she cares about. Anna isn’t safe.

So of course she creates a giant snow monster to chase Anna off and almost kill her. But that wasn’t what she originally intended!

Think about it. Marshmallow originally was going to simply scoop up Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf and chuck them outside. It was Anna’s own impulsive insistence that brought on the danger. Marshmallow can be thought of as the fearful version of Elsa.

Now on to her encounter with Hans, which is just tragic. At this point she’s sent Anna away, doesn’t know what she’s done to her sister, and thinks that she is finally free. Wrong! There’s a lot of the story left to go yet! When she sees Hans’ horde, she shuts the doors and walks away. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone; she just wants to be left alone. But of course she doesn’t get that.

She gets two assassins instead. Here we see Elsa use her magic aggressively, first to defend herself from the assassins but then to attack back. By the end of the fight her fear is giving way to anger and she is extremely close to killing both of her attackers.

Which is where Hans actually comes in and plays the good guy. Regardless of his evil character, his plots, or the fact that all he really wanted was to see Elsa dead, he is the one who saved her in the end. And I don’t mean the arrow.

I mean what he said. “Don’t be the monster they fear you are.” For him, it was a facade. The nice guy. But for Elsa, it was exactly what she needed to hear. She wasn’t a monster. But she was becoming one. And that wasn’t what she wanted. As soon as she heard that she stopped attacking the assassins. And then shortly thereafter gets knocked unconscious.

Only to wake up in a prison cell. Seriously, can this girl get a break? Inside that cell, she sees for the first time what her fear did to Arrendelle. She is told that Anna, the Anna she turned away at her door, the Anna she has spent a lifetime protecting, is still out in that blizzard. And then Elsa’s fear is so strong she can freeze off gigantic iron chains and escape. Actually, forget about freezing the chains. She froze the entire palace.

And she escapes into the blizzard, for two reasons I think. One is to save Arrendelle from her cold influence. She knows she can’t control her power and she needs to get as far away from Arrendelle as possible. But the other reason is Anna. There’s nothing in the movie to confirm it, but I’m pretty sure she was also going to search for Anna before she left.

Of course, that doesn’t work out quite right. Nope, instead of finding her sister, returning her to safety, and getting the heck out of there, Elsa is told that she has killed the one thing that she had kept going for. It is at this point that Elsa gives up. The blizzard, the embodiment of her emotions, freezes. She falls to her knees and weeps. And she doesn’t care enough to stop Hans from stabbing her with his sword.

Because without Anna, she is nothing. Without Anna, she really is a monster. She doesn’t deserve to live. I’m pretty much 100% certain that’s what she was thinking right then. And then Anna saved her.

Which means two things. Firstly, it means that Hans was lying about her being dead. Secondly, it means that Elsa gets to experience Anna’s death all over again. And this time she knows for a fact who is to blame. As she clings to the frozen sculpture of Anna, Elsa pours out all of the love she should have been able to show her sister through the years… but it comes out as grief. Because now she can never make it right with Anna. She can never build that snowman.

And when Anna unfreezes and returns to normal, Elsa is overjoyed. All of that love that turned into grief was turned back into love. Love that she immediately poured into Anna. And that’s when it hits her.

Love. Why hadn’t she seen it before? The opposite of fear. Love. Elsa thaws all of Arrendelle, and by the end of the movie, she is a fully accepted and beautiful queen, loved by all her subjects. Anna and Elsa have the relationship they always should have had, and the gates of Arrendelle are open for good. The scars of her childhood will always remain, but with time and Anna’s love, they will fade.

[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. -1 Corinthians 13:7


Posted by on March 7, 2014 in *Le Literary Analysis


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4 responses to “Literary Analysis: Frozen

  1. A

    August 30, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    That was really lovely. I feel the exact same way about the points you made, and I also really enjoyed how the movie was about sisterly love instead of romantic love. I had the same thought about Olaf’s refusal to leave being a demonstration of true love, too!

    I love how you quoted 1 Corinthians at the end–some of my favorite verses. 🙂 And Enders Game, too!

    • Rierierose

      September 4, 2014 at 9:12 am

      🙂 Thank you. I really adored this movie, and specifically, I feel I can relate more to Elsa than any other character I have seen. Frozen did nearly every last thing exactly right.

  2. bobston

    September 14, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Great. But being taught first aid, I know that one’s needs are always put first (unless it’s your job). This way you can save more people. So Olaf’s statement is inspiring, but cannot be agreed about. Instead, others’ needs should be very high on your list. Just the smallest pointer possible.

    • Rierierose

      September 15, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Hello bobston! Thanks for commenting. 🙂 I see what you’re saying—in an emergency it’s better for untrained civilians to tend to their own needs first, leaving others to get help from professionals. I do find Olaf’s sacrificial love in this scenario to be a powerful example of agape, but you’re right in saying that in a real-world scenario, it might not be the best idea to act as he did. Thanks for your input! I’m glad you enjoyed the rest of my post.


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