Merida and Ariel have very similar characteristics with similar goals, stories, and mistakes. They are both fiery, spirited, stubborn, headstrong, rebellious, foolish, careless, inconsiderate, look-before-they-leap types. They both rebel against an overprotective, overbearing parent. They both go after what they want without considering (or caring) about the consequences. Merida wants her freedom to ride and shoot arrows as much as her coração desires. Ariel wants to explore the surface and live among humans.
However, many of the same people that praise Ariel for overcoming oppression and going after what she wants will condemn Merida for being whiny and selfish. People who take Ariel's side against her father will condemn Merida for having the audacity to argue with her mother.
To save time and energy, I'm just going to post some comments various users have made about Merida and just refute them here.
Reflection11: Merida. “… Also she whiny and complains. Your mom cares about you so much and she has done a lot for you so, BE THANKFUL!” Ariel. “I amor that she fights for what she believes in. And how she is adventurous, rebellious,...”
Stop right there.
So, when Merida rejects the wishes of an overbearing parent, she’s an ungrateful whiner that doesn’t appreciate what her mom does for her? But when Ariel does the same to her dad, she’s an admirable go-getter that’s just sticking up for what she believes in?
Silverrose1991: "Elinor, while strict, was only looking after she thought were her daugther's best interests."
So was Triton. Honestly, if you're going to give Elinor a pass for having Merida's best interest at heart, and condemn Merida for not appreciating her, then you should also give Triton a pass for also having Ariel's best interest at coração and condemn her for not appreciating him either. As Triton himself says: "Do you think I want to see my youngest daughter snared on some fish-eater's hook?" Ariel: "I'm sixteen years old! I'm not a child." I'd scold her for that tone too.
I'll also argue that Triton gives Ariel even mais freedom than Elinor gives Merida, so I actually think she has mais reason to rebel than Ariel.
KataraLover: "But I feel like there could be mais to the story with Merida than there is Ariel and Jasmine. Ariel is rebelling because she's fighting against the injustice of the human race, a very noble cause because they don't truly know that all humans are evil. She also rebels because of how her father is protective of her because of her mother....
...Merida on the other hand gets to go out, shoot arrows, climb mountains, and ride cavalos a lot, WAY mais than jasmim has ever done. Merida doesn't have much depth to her because she was rebellious even before the whole forced into marriage thing."
Tygers_Eye: "...No offense, but did you watch the movie? Yes, she's rebellious, because her mom constantly polices her every word and action and tries to force her to be the exact opposite of how she is.
"The film establishes Merida as a very athletic, combative, hot-blooded girl that loves archery, sword fighting, horseback riding, wilderness survival, rock-climbing, and other physically exerting activities. Her mother expects her to discard it all completely and be calm, graceful, dainty, delicate, polite, studious, domestic, diplomatic, etc. To that end, her mom constantly monitors and nitpicks at her. The mais her mother tries to force these standards on her, the mais Merida rejects them.
"Honestly, Ariel had plenty of freedom to go and do whatever she wanted as long as she stayed away from the surface, and jasmim seemed to have a decent amount of freedom as a princess living in luxury as long as she stayed inside the palace walls. Sure, they couldn't physically GO where they wanted, but Merida's very personality and every waking moment was constantly monitored and policed. (Except Sundays, apparently.) Honestly, I think Merida would *kill* for the freedom that Ariel and Jasmine, or at least Ariel had."
Also, I really want to address that “Ariel is rebelling because she's fighting against the injustice of the human race, a very noble cause because they don't truly know that all humans are evil” part. I really, strongly disagree. Nobility implies highly admirable goals and virtues, but Ariel secretly breaks her father’s law regarding the surface because it’s something SHE'S interested in. It's rebellion born of self-interest and self-fulfillment, not better the world for other people. If she publically fought her father’s law so other merpeople could enjoy the surface without worry, I might call it “noble.” But she doesn’t. If her father’s prejudice actively hurt humans, I might call it “noble.” However, whether he likes them or not does not make a difference to humans’ everyday lives since most don’t know merpeople exist. If he was actively malicious because of his prejudice, like sinking ships or drowning them, her rebellion would be “a very noble cause.” But it’s not. She likes the surface and humans, her dad says no, so she just does it anyway. Honestly, it’s not much different from a girl liking punk rock, but her father refuses to let her listen to the music, go to the concerts, or associate with punk-rockers because he thinks the evils of rock música with corrupt his little girl and lead to drugs, sex and death, and she just keeps listening, going to the concerts, and trying to encontro, data one anyway. Only Triton legitimately fears for his daughter's life because he really thinks humans will kill her.
Now I'm going to address the urso in the room: Merida trying to change her mother instead of trying to change herself.
Swanpride: "Merida wanted to deliberately mess with the mind of her mother...which in my eyes is MUCH WORSE than just turning her into a bear."
Silverrose1991: "I think purposefully changing your mother (even if not in the way you wanted) is wose than unknowingly affect others with changing yourself."
These are legitimate points. Trying to change her mom without her consent is a legitimately awful and selfish thing to do.
However,I've often seen Ariel changing herself being called brave, selfless, whatever. Ah, no. Not brave. Ariel changing herself was reckless and stupid to the extreme since Ursula was obviously, notoriously evil, gave her an impossible task of winning some schmuck's coração and lips in three days, and Ariel quite literally gambled and signed her life away on such impossible odds. Not to mention that doing it was still selfish since leaving would worry and sadden her family, since just disappearing one dia without letting them know where she was going would be leave them forever wondering what happened to her. Either Ariel didn't consider how her absence would affect her family, which is selfish, or she did consider and just decided that her desire was mais important, which is also selfish. But hey. As long as Ariel gets what Ariel wants, everyone else can twist in the wind for all she cares.
I'll also try to play Devil's Advocate in regards to Merida, because while trying to change her mom was legitimately wrong, I don't think it's this all-horrible black hole of morality evil act that sucks in everything else about her as a character, nor do I think Ariel's change all that innocent and selfless por comparison.
Tygers_Eye: "To be fair, [Merida's] mother was trying to change her every segundo of every dia too. Constantly correcting her every word, thought and action, constantly trying to mold her into the type of daughter and princess she wanted, and tried to force her to marry a complete stranger against her will when she wasn't ready. Every time Merida tried to talk or resist, her mother would urso down harder on her and tighten her restrictions harder and harder until Merida couldn't breathe; both literally and figuratively. It's pretty clear that when Merida says 'change' what she means is 'less strict.'"
Silverrose1991: "In regards to the Merida-Elinor relationship, my point is that I don't like Merida using magic to change her mother."
Tygers_Eye: "So... it's all right to change someone as long as you don't use magic? The end result is the same, the person has changed. Whether one forces it through constant behavior correcting or magic, the person still winds up different from before.
"Elinor was the instigator por constantly trying to force Merida to change, would not let up no matter how much she tried to resist or reason, and would not compromise no matter how much Merida begged, so I can kind of see where she kind of felt she was at the end of her rope. Should she let her mom force her into a marriage she wasn't ready for and give up the life she loved, or try to get her mom to change her mind about the marriage por being less strict and unrelenting?"
Also, while many feel it's too little too late, Merida still learns to genuinely regret and apologize for her actions. When it seems like her mom will be a urso forever, Merida breaks down sobbing: "I'm so sorry. This is all my fault. I did this to you." Not just for making her mom a bear, which many grudgingly grant her, but genuinely apologize for trying to change her mom at all. During their worst fight, when Merida really thought her mom didn't care about her, she cried: "You're never there for me! All you care about is what YOU want!" At the end, when it seems her mum will be a urso forever, Merida hugs her mom and sobs: "You were always there for me! You've never given up on me... I want you back!" In other words, she realizes she never should have tried to change her mom, since her mom was always fine the way she was, and wishes for her mom back exactly the way she was, strict and all.
I can't say the same for Ariel, who never seems sorry that she got involved with the Sea Witch, only sorry that she lost / got caught. When Ursula reveals their deal to Triton, she says: "Daddy, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to! I didn't know!" Didn't mean to? Do what? Accept the eels' offer to see Ursula, listen to her spiel, sign the contract. Oh yes you did mean to. Didn't know? Didn't know what? That Ursula is a notoriously evil, untrustworthy sea witch? That she turns her customers into polyps and as you saw her garden is full to bursting? That she intended to enslave you as she told you the terms of the contract? That she was eager to have you since she said "You'll belong TO ME!" enthusiastically and practically screamed "Flotsam, Jetsam, now I've got her boys! THE BOSS IS ON A ROLL!" just before you signed it, and Ursula was ecstatic to get the contract after you signed it? You didn't know? Yeah right! You knew, but you didn't care, signed the contract anyway, and got yourself in trouble. Now you're sorry that it's come back to bite you.
After Triton trades his life for hers, I honestly expect her to say "What have I done?" since, when all is said and done, Ariel made the decision to go to Ursula, listen to the risks, and sign the contract anyway. Yeah, you can argue that Ursula "manipulated" her, but she did not force her to sign anything. Ariel did that of her own volition. And then her father paid the price. Yet, every time I watch that scene, I don't know why, but I feel surprised when she instead glares at Ursula and cries "YOU MONSTER!" Okay, don't admit responsibility for your actions. Completely blame her. That's the mature, selfless thing to do.
Then, of course, Ariel never apologizes or takes responsibility for what happened. After it's all over, she just goes back to mooning over Eric like she was before it happened. No lessons or regrets here.
IN CONCLUSION: Both Merida and Ariel do selfish things in their quest to get what they want, rebel against and underappreciate the efforts of an overbearing parent, and hurt others in their por accepting a potion por a witch to "change" someone. However, where Ariel often gets excused, praised or glorified for her behavior and actions, Merida if often completely condemned. For reasons I discussed in this article, I think this is a wee bit of a double-standard that deserves some thinking about.