Why Are Loving Mothers so Seldom Found in Stories?A Loving Mother Would Have Taken on the Beast
I am sure my daughter saw every animated Disney classic ever produced. One summer evening, we watched the latest Disney flick in a drive-in movie theater and watched Quasimodo’s mother killed by the French police forcing him to stay with the monks of Notre Dame. I thought this rather violent for a kids’ cartoon, especially in the first five minutes. Still, it followed the Disney theme of protagonists losing their mothers.
Think hard about all the Disney movies you sat through with your daughters. Did any of the protagonists have a mother? A few had fathers that had the bad taste to marry evil stepmothers and promptly die. Another handful had absent-minded fathers who end up endangering their daughters. Even Bambi lost his mom. To be fair to Walt, he didn’t write all these tales. Most came from fairy tales.
The dynamics include a young heroine in peril without a mother to turn to for help. Often her father doesn’t understand her, which forces the girl or mermaid to strike out on her own. I noticed romances follow the same dynamics. I kid you not.
I just finished reading Dangerous Refuge by Elizabeth Lowell. It was an amazing book, a total five stars, but also a good example of the bad family history. Our heroine is on her own because she’s been ostracized by her social climbing family. She also wants nothing to do with them. This forces her into a situation where she has to make things work on her own. There will be no help from her family if things go wrong. I don’t want to say much more and ruin the story.
Often authors will kill the parents off and make the heroine an orphan. I can’t even count how many orphaned heroines populated the various books I’ve read. I can understand this in historical romances. The mother is absent to force the daughter into an unfortunate situation. Even in contemporary novels, we often find the heroine in a hard spot with no parents, neglectful parents or really horrible, rotten parents.
I guess I wonder why the parents matter so much. In the Disney classics, the lack of a mother caused the princess to fall into an evil plot twist that needed the help of cute animals and a prince to rescue her. You can have female protagonists with perfectly fine mothers.
Julia Quinn introduced a warm and loving family unit with the Bridgertons. Their calamity was a lack of money. Romance complications depended on other things as opposed to a neglectful or missing mother.
Does not having a mother make the heroine more sympathetic? I don’t know. I do know that my latest heroine landed on her aunt’s doorstep as her mother chased after her latest military bad boy. Even though, Amy, my heroine, has an aunt who is a much better maternal figure than her mother ever could be, she still feels unlovable. This perception causes her to miss love that is right in front of her nose.
I also noticed that heroes could have perfectly wonderful families. They often bring their new found love into the family. What’s up with that? Do you have an opinion either way?
Thinking over all the movies I’ve watched, I did notice that Dumbo had a mother. Was that because he was male? Was a baby elephant in the circus without a mother too unbelievable? Do only human females suffer the lack of a mother? Too bad, Walt isn’t alive to ask.