Meet Jasmine, princess of Agrabah and 12th-century girl power icon. She's here to chew bubblegum and smash the patriarchy, and she's all out of bubblegum.
Jasmine's a princess, which means her life should be practically perfect in every way, right?
Well, not quite.
Jasmine's got 99 princess problems, and unwanted suitors are more than one of them. This gal may not be starving in the streets, but you've got to admit being forced to choose which pompous jerk you're going to marry in the next three days is kind of a bummer. It doesn't end there:
JASMINE: Try to understand. I've never done a thing on my own. I've never had any real friends. Except you, Rajah. I've never even been outside the palace walls.
SULTAN: But Jasmine, you're a princess.
JASMINE: Then maybe I don't want to be a princess.
Um, okay, so she's never been allowed to leave her home or make friends. Is this a palace or a prison? Or does she have secret ice powers that no one knows about? Because that's just weird. Why doesn't her dad want her to have non-tiger friends? Is he trying to protect her?
Jasmine might be pampered and privileged, but we can't really blame her for wanting a little bit of freedom. She and Aladdin might come from opposite ends of the socio-economic spectrum, but they both feel super trapped by their circumstances. Neither sees a way out. In fact, Jasmine thinks her only option is to run away from home.
Unfortunately, since she's never been outside the palace walls and doesn't even know how money works, so she doesn't make it very far.
Finding True Love
Running away from all her problems turns out to be an awesome move for Jasmine, at least for a while. Sure, she almost gets her hand chopped off, but in the process, she meets the love of her life—Aladdin. He's a dreamboat, and it turns out they have tons in common.
Why does Jasmine fall for Aladdin? Well, he's someone she trusts (that whole "Do you trust me?" pickup line really did the trick). He doesn't know she's the princess when they meet, so she knows he doesn't have any agenda with her. He just likes her for her.
She also thinks he's honest. We'll note that Aladdin doesn't totally tell the truth with Jasmine, but she definitely likes him when he's being himself. When Aladdin puts on airs, later, as Prince Ali, and talks up his wealth and fanciness, she's not interested. But when he acts like the boy she met in the marketplace, Jasmine is all in.
Jasmine is also a pretty even match for Aladdin. He might be quick-witted and street smart, but Jasmine is no fool, either:
JASMINE: It's all so magical.
JASMINE: It's a shame Abu had to miss this.
ALADDIN: Nah. He hates fireworks. He doesn't really like flying either. That is...oh no!
JASMINE: You are the boy from the market! I knew it. Why did you lie to me?
ALADDIN: Jasmine, I'm sorry.
JASMINE: Did you think I was stupid?
JASMINE: That I wouldn't figure it out?
Yup. Did he really think he was gonna pull one over this girl? Come on: she's no Lois Lane.
Love & Marriage
The law says that Jasmine has to marry a prince, and our girl is super picky. But that's actually a pretty smart move. Her husband will become the sultan of Agrabah (Jasmine apparently can't rule it herself). Becoming sultan? That's a pretty big motivation for any man looking for the fast route to fame and fortune:
JASMINE: Hmm. I'm rich too, you know.
JASMINE: The daughter of a sultan
ALADDIN: I know.
JASMINE: A fine prize for any prince to marry.
ALADDIN: Uh, right. Right. A prince like me.
GENIE: Warning! Warning!
JASMINE: Right, a prince like you. And every other stuffed shirt, swaggering, peacock I've met!
This is literally the exact plan Jafar just tried to pull in the previous scene. Jasmine is no dummy: she knows that princes aren't tripping over themselves to marry her because they think she's a swell gal. They may think she's cute, but above all, they're attracted to the money and power they'll get if they marry her.
So why would Jasmine give all that away without a fight? She wants to find someone she loves and trusts. Someone she views as an equal partner, who will give her a voice in the governing of Agrabah. The ball is in Jasmine's court right now, and she'd be kind of stupid just to toss it to the first handsome dude with a crown who strolled into the palace singing a love song.
Rajah better keep those claws sharp.
The Disney Renaissance brought us a new kind of heroine. Ariel defied her father to achieve her dreams. Belle wanted more than just to marry a good-looking guy and have his babies. Jasmine wants to subvert the law and choose on her own. Compared to Snow White and Aurora, who literally just lay around and waited for Prince Charming to rescue them, the new princesses are pretty empowered.
Jasmine may be the most empowered of the three. Ariel traded her voice for a chance with a guy she just met. Belle fell in love with the Beast, who imprisoned her for months. But Jasmine?
Jasmine is a different story. Not only is she the first non-white Disney princess, but she's also the first princess to really question her status in life. Seriously, if you've ever wanted to be a princess, you might take a lesson from Jasmine. It's not all gowns and balls and handsome princes. Sometimes being royalty involves marrying a person you don't want to in order to ensure that the kingdom will have a male ruler.
Our princess isn't afraid to call any of that out. She openly refuses to marry without love. She tells her father she thinks the laws of Agrabah are wrong. She runs away rather than compromise her beliefs. She pledges to use the power she'll have once she's queen to rid the kingdom of corruption. This girl is woke.
Of course, you'll still see Jasmine pictured side by side with all the other Disney princesses in tons of merchandise. Little girls can buy Jasmine dolls and Jasmine dresses and pretty much forget that she's one of the baddest and fiercest Disney princesses out there.
But we'll never forget. Our hats off to you Jasmine. Keep on breaking down princess barriers.