A lot of Disney characters grow up without mothers. Check out these films for example:
The Jungle Book
The Fox and the Hound
The Great Mouse Detective
The Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Emperor’s New Groove
What’s up with that??
Busting the Myth
While it’s true that Walt Disney’s own mother met a tragic demise, there is no connection between that and the lack of mothers in Disney movies. In case you didn’t know, here’s what happened:
For a lot of children, it’s a dream come true to be able to buy a house for your own parents. Walt Disney and his brother Roy purchased a house for their parents in 1937. After about a year, Walt’s mother called in to ask if the leaking furnace can be fixed.
“He had the studio guys come over and fix the furnace, but when his mom and dad moved in, the furnace leaked and his mother died,’ said Hahn. ‘The housekeeper came in the next morning and pulled his mother and father out on the front lawn. His father was sick and went to the hospital, but his mother died. He never would talk about it, nobody ever does. He never spoke about that time because he personally felt responsible because he had become so successful that he said, ‘Let me buy you a house.’ It’s every kid’s dream to buy their parents a house and just through a strange freak of nature — though no fault of his own — the studio workers didn’t know what they were doing.”
Flora Disney died on Nov. 26, 1938. Contrary to a lot of reports, Disney’s mother died after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (a classic example of a motherless Disney film). This doesn’t make sense if Snow White was completed and released before the tragic event.
Not to mention that most of the movies released during Walt Disney’s lifetime were actually adaptations of traditional fairy tales and children’s stories. A lot of these stories relied on motherless characters to showcase characteristics like strength, resilience, and self-reliance.
But Why the Motherless Theme?
It’s simple, really. They only have 80-90 minutes to get their point across. It’s so much easier to realistically portray characters who quickly grow up or accept responsibility when you ‘bump off their parents’.
Despite the tragic demise of Walt Disney’s mother, one thing is certain. The theme of motherless characters in Disney movies is basically a way to move the story forward. It’s a way to showcase character traits that emerge after a tragic event or loss (as seen in Disney’s Frozen).
Lastly, if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that Disney movies revolve around common themes anyway. Sons go on adventures, daughters long for freedom, parents die tragically, and evil relatives or step-parents seek to control the children.
Perhaps, the lack of mothers in recent Disney films could be an homage to Flora Disney’s tragic demise. It’s a fan theory. How about you? Any Disney fan theories in mind? Share it with us in the comments section below.