By Amanda Schwarz
While it is common to applaud the princesses and charming princes who find themselves the stars of many fairy tales, sometimes, it is the scheming villains that really steal the show. From evil queens to creatures under the sea, there are numerous villains that play notable roles.
To begin, Ursula made a stunning antagonist in the little mermaid. Though the Disney movie, which catered to young children, altered the story to make it end happily ever after, Ursula in fact had a much greater impact in the original version by Hans Christian Anderson. Ariel trades her voice for human legs in both and does so with the hope of a kiss from Prince Eric to gain it back. However, in the original, Eric doesn’t fall for her as he does in the movie. Instead, Ariel comes to the harsh discovery that the Prince she became so fascinated with is already in love with someone else. At the knowledge of this, knowing the man she loves will never love her, Ariel returns to the sea. At the cost of her choices, Ariel dies as she is no longer a mermaid, though in some adaptations she turns into seafoam instead. Ursula wins. In both the movie and the book, she appears to be a monster. She may be, but her actions in the story make her a villain worthy of applause. The story’s conclusion breaks the belief that everyone finds a happily ever after.
In another classic fairytale adapted to various movies, Sleeping Beauty presents a stunning villain as well. Though multiple versions exist, a commonly used version of the tale explains how at Aurora’s birth, every fairy in the land was invited to bless the girl with a gift. When all but the smallest fairy had given their gift, Maleficent appears: enraged. She, who had not been invited, bestows her own gift to the baby. A gift that would be ignited at the prick of a finger. The rest is relatively well known. It may seem like an excessive amount of rage, but from Maleficent’s perspective and the assumption this is not the first of these occurrences, the anger is rightful. Maleficent, in both books and the recent movies, is portrayed less and less as a villain and more of just a woman who had the power to do something about her situation. Her whole life she has been treated as a monster, so at one point, is it unreasonable to become that monster?
Though many other impressive villains shine in fairy tales, it can be argued that Ursula and Maleficent are two of the greatest. With a brighter and more worldly mind than a child, looking back through childhood fairy tales presents a new perspective, particularly on characters that once were viewed in black an white. It is important to remember, it makes a great deal of difference to see a villain through their side of the story. After all, are villains not determined by the eyes you’re looking through?