The Absence of Mothers in Disney Movies


Belle and her father, Maurice, in Beauty and the Beast. Belle's mother is never talked about in the 1991 film, and she is also not present.

Most Disney fans expect to sit down and watch a Disney film with one thing missing in most of the movies: mothers. Disney fans have gotten the idea that Disney films are going to continue to have motherless characters. Characters lose their mothers before the movie begins, or mothers are only on screen for a very short amount of time. Some of those movies include Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Frozen, Aladdin, etc. Disney fans often wonder why the Disney Company decided to make the majority of their characters motherless, and maybe there are some answers to that.

According to Don Hahn, who is an executive producer of the Walt Disney Company, tells his two theories in a  Glamour interview. “One reason is practical because the movies are 80 or 90 minutes long, and Disney films are about growing up. They’re about that day in your life when you have to accept responsibility,” said the longtime producer. The other reason why the majority of Disney films has no mothers is really tragic. In 1937, Walt Disney and his older brother, Roy, bought their parents a house in California. A few months later, his mother, Flora, had been complaining about the gas furnace in her house, so Walt sent someone to fix it, but it did not end up being fixed that well. On November 26, 1938, poisonous fumes spread through his parents’ home, but though his father survived, his mother did not. “He never spoke about this time because he felt personally responsible…” said Hahn, who suggested that Disney was haunted by his mother’s death.

In my opinion, the main reason why Disney movies are mostly motherless is because of Walt’s mother’s death, and it just continued like that over the years, even after Walt Disney’s death in 1966. Flora’s death really impacted how he made Disney movies, and it was just the hardest time in his life for him. Like Don Hahn said, the characters have to really accept responsibility, and they are tested.


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14 thoughts on “The Absence of Mothers in Disney Movies

  1. smilingldsgirl says:

    Very interesting. Sometimes I think it is because there is a wicked stepmother (Cinderella, Snow White) and if there was a mother that might get confusing. Treasure Planet is only one I can think of with a Mother. I guess there’s a Mom in Bolt. Interesting

  2. Natalie says:

    I agree about that too! Rapunzel has a (real) mom, but she is barely in it. That is all I can really think of, besides what you said!

  3. Charlotte says:

    Such a great post! I have always found it interesting how the Walt Disney Company doesn’t add mothers to their films!

  4. mphadventuregirl says:

    That makes sense. Sometimes Disney does the complete opposite. Sometimes you come across fatherless characters as well like Simba. It is just Disney after all and you except a character to be parentless at the beginning or have a parent die in the middle

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