The Classic Era (1937–1959)

  • Tracey L. MolletEmail author


This chapter provides an outline of the primary characteristics of Depression and post-war society in the United States, including political changes, gender roles and cultural shifts. This provides the contextual backdrop for Disney’s first three fairy tale films: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Hand et al. 1937), Cinderella (Geronimi et al. 1950) and Sleeping Beauty (Geronimi 1959). The analysis posits that each of these films features a progressive ‘rags to riches’ heroine, trapped within their current setting and desiring of a new life beside a man they love. Alongside the underdogs (dwarfs, mice and fairies), they fight anti-American forces in pursuit of their happily ever after: the American Dream. Most importantly, however, these fairy tales are anti-royalist. They reject the conservative, oppressive impositions placed upon their heroes and heroines by the ‘old’ generation of royals, in favour of a new, progressive approach to marriage. This constitutes a Disney fairy tale which is liberal in outlook, emphasising choice and freedom, but that functions solely within the nostalgic framework of the patriarchal order.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Media and CommunicationUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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