“Noble Maiden Fair (A Mhaighdean Bhan Uasal)” Soundscape

The harp begins with a chillingly elegant melody and the violin joins in, speaking to the listener, setting a soft but playful tone. I see the harp as representative of Queen Elinor whereas the free spirited fiddle represents Merida and her desire to cast off the bonds of society’s expectations. Quite simply, Brave is yet another Freaky Friday- the tale of a spoiled brat of a child and a mother who means well, but simply cannot understand where her daughter is coming from. The difference is that Merida becomes the only Disney princess not to have a love interest and that’s why this song is so revolutionary. It’s a love song, yes, but a love song between mother and daughter, not two lovers. I connect strongly to the song and the plot simply because I know what it’s like to be the irritating teenage child and not realize that you’re being pigheaded until it’s nearly too late. The song begins with Queen Elinor alone, but a younger, sweeter Merida joins in towards the end of the piece. Emotionally, I feel a sort of comfort when listening to this song. It’s sweet and the lyrics to the song are aptly fitted for the situation. The song begins with the Noble Maiden as a young child and calls for the moon and sun (which can be construed as her mother and father) to guide her as she grows up to be a noble maiden. However, while nobility can mean a station, being noble is a characteristic that must be learned by many young teens, as Merida does throughout the course of the film. Queen Elinor, for all her lack of understanding teenage hormones holds true nobility. She manages to retain her dignity and grace, even as a bear. The nobility lies not in the eating with a knife and fork, but rather the unfaltering support she gives Merida during the whole affair. Furthermore, Queen Elinor does her best to retain her identity during the period of her transformation, not only as a Queen, but also as a mother. She retains her love for her daughter despite all the crazy things that Merida puts her mother through. Furthermore, Merida is the only Disney Princess who does NOT get paired up with a love interest over the course of the film and still isn’t bound to a man by the end of her film. This is what makes her so special, despite her hard-headed nature and other flaws. She doesn’t conform to what is expected of her, but proves that by holding her own and proving her maturity, it is possible for her to make her own dreams come true, without relying on a man to make them happen for her.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. cammymoreno
    Apr 28, 2015 @ 06:55:58

    Merida a spoiled brat? I strongly disagree. Did she get a feast every night, a horse, a castle, an education, like Eleanor stated her parents never had? Yes. But spoiling implies getting what she wanted and becoming a horrible, greedy, unrestrained person. She was not that at all. From her intro, she seemed to barely every get to ride Angus, despite that horses need to be ridden to stay fit. Perhaps someone else rode him. She also cleaned out the stall herself. Like many students, she did not enjoy her studies as she found little application or importance to them. Yes, she failed to find their importance which makes me worry about her leadership skills as future Queen. Does she lack appreciation and perspective? Yes. That’s why the story exists. Unlike Ariel, where she wants something and gets it, what Merida wants is actually somewhat harmful, because she doesn’t want to follow the rules or offer any helpful alternatives. Eleanor, a rule follower, saw no good alternative nor a good reason to make one. What happens to Ariel and Triton is bad, but that’s only because Ursula is actually evil. Nothing bad would have happened if Triton had given Ariel legs. She’d have been married and happy and the witch would be a distant threat.

    She’s a griping, complaining teenager, like most are, but I don’t think that makes her spoiled. She says she gets one day a year off from her studies. Can you imagine school with no weekends? Her mother, dutifully and respectfully, follows all rules to a T, is a control freak (used loosely, but still used) and a perfectionist. She believes the kingdom won’t last if such precision is not taken. Keep in mind, they are the first king and queen. The sense of companionship and peace and cohesion in the kingdom is only maintained by them and the other leaders. It has not happened before. So I do not fault Eleanor for it. However, Merida, more than being a teenager, is completely the opposite. She is the free spirit that doesn’t want to be tamed because she think it will take away from who she is and keep her from being her best. She learns that it does not. She did not grow up in clan wars or invasion. All people, no matter how much they hate rules, need them to keep order and cooperate with each other, which is a necessity for being a leader/ruler. In her spiel while she’s mucking out the stables, she comically says, “We expect your declarations of war in the morning. Good day!” But it was serious and she knew that it would happen. I fault her for not taking her duties seriously and threatening war, but that was her bildungsroman. That was her growing up, which everyone learns differently. That was her story, not really defeating a Demon Bear. Just learning to compromise and do what must be done for the greater good. She demonstrates that growth by nearly stating that she will marry, but her mother interrupts her. Her mother also learned that things don’t need to go perfectly as planned to turn out well. People are people, not chess pieces, and each generation is capable of working out their problems. We also see that Merida is not the first choice of the men, one of them claiming that his Father picked her out, on account of her royalty.

    Rigidity worked for the previous generation, and now the new generation has the freedom and flexibility to do things their own way, under the guidance of their parents. Surprisingly, none of the other wives are depicted. The clan leaders present themselves, their sons, their relics, but not their wives. Eleanor is the only woman leader, other than Merida.

    The bear works on so many metaphoric levels. Slaying the Bear is a lot like Slaying the Dragon, and Christians interpret the dragon as both the Devil in his form, and the metaphor for sin. The bear is a physical threat, but it is because of his pride that he became a bear. Merida had to slay her pride to break the bear spell on her mother. Eleanor had to slay her idea of ladylike etiquette to fight like a man to save her daughter. Remember, she and Merida were nearly killed at the beginning and King Fergus lost his leg to Mordu. Eleanor wants to keep them completely away from danger rather than risk fighting it or learning how to fight at all. On the cover of the movie, there is a spectral misty bear above Merida as she poises with her bow. I don’t know if that bear is representative of her mother (a looming curse or a mist of protection/love), or the physical Mordu she intends to kill, or if it is Merida’s bear, the embodiment her uncooperative, unyielding pride that hovers above her.

    Because the story really is about character growth, I want to cover all the songs. Because those songs really did serve as stages and to express emotions.

    Touch the Sky is the feisty, bull headed song of freedom that characterizes Merida’s careless/carefree and adventurous spirit. She takes her castle for granted because she doesn’t care for it. Just give her a stable and her horse and I think she’d be happy. (Except for the bit where she was a wee lass and afraid of storms. Had she known, she would have appreciated her castle and her mother being there, as shown when they sleep outdoors the first night.) The song itself asserts strength- strong as the seas are stormy and proud as the cry from an eagle that is heard for miles. But there is a line that doesn’t fit yet, if I hear it right. “I’ll heed their every story and take hold of my own dreams.” She doesn’t heed things unless she sees value in them. She memorizes them, yes, because she’s able to recall the story at the wrecked throne room later. She later iterates “Stories are lessons.” So before she’d be reckless story or no story, but at the end she is a bit wiser after considering a story.

    I love this song the most because it set the tone for Merida’s initial character. She is a completely free spirit and brave. She is patient to be good to do what she does. Not to mention that she rides through the woods (did I mention I’m a Hyliophile/Dendrophile?) rock climbs (also love) up a waterfall (hydrophile, pluviophile, and I love the way light plays on water). The Fire Falls looks like Lava Falls in Yellowstone National Park ( I think). I love the rugged terrain and landscapes. And did I mention I’m a haplophile for swords and archaic shiny weapons? I love swords. Arrows are cool too. She carves her own designs on it. So she’s a bit of a carver/crafter, the best swordswoman, an equestrian, rockclimber, archer, and a bit clever and learns to respect her lessons. She knows which plants are deadly. She also takes care of her own horse, so she’s not afraid to get sweaty, stinky and dirty. She’s a hard worker. She is pretty dang amazing. And that accent!

    Noble Maiden Fair, A Mhaighdean Bhan Uasal. When I first heard it by soundtrack later (I thought it was sweet in the movie then immediately forgot it) I passed over it. I couldn’t remember where it played, and it was SO opposite of Touch the Sky that I couldn’t stand it. I loved the fiery assertiveness and strength of Touch the Sky, that it was all too easy to over look the gentler firmness of the song. It is also strong, just in a different way. It’s a very gentle piece that expresses care and comfort, which we rarely see in them otherwise. It gave them something to go back to, sort of. It surprises me that the song and scene were nearly cut out. It comforts like a lullaby, and expresses faithfulness. Her mother’s part states that she’s beside her, which seems like an unfulfilled promise when they fight older. Even though Merida and Bear Eleanor are right beside each other during the storm, they still feel so distant. Merida’s speech at sunrise actually shows it to be a faithful promise. They were able to bond over the song, for one being sung when Eleanor comforted baby Merida in a storm, and that baby Merida supposedly joined in. They shared it. It was a good memory that haunted Merida in the storm when they were older. It also speaks of the faithfulness of the land, and asks Merida to look at it, take notice of it and return its faithfulness in kind. Be good to the land and people and they will be good to you. It’s instructional but also assuring. It’s a very simple and tender song. I have every intention of learning how to pronounce things correctly and sing to to my own child.

    Into the Open Air shows their severed connected and remorse over it. “How did we let it come to this? What we’ve just tasted we somehow still miss?” They share fights and experiences but they can’t see each other’s POV until then. Their walls to shield themselves from each other started coming down. Pride fell down, convention fell down, formalities and stubbornness fell away. Love connects them, “guiding them home.” The song asks if they can still have this openness, honesty, and intimacy when their fiasco is over.

    Learn me Right: I think this is the ending song. It’s spirited and fun, but more mature and deeper lyrics than Touch the Sky. It’s a happy, rounded blend of the two. I’m not sure what the lyrics mean exactly, but perhaps the title means “Teach me in a way that I understand” so that it is effective rather than just giving lessons. Lessons are better when the student is receptive and enjoying the lesson. Both the Queen, wise and experienced, and Merida, had to try to meet the other half way to understand the other. Their communication probably and hopefully improved after the spell wore off. Hopefully their relationship was better. There is a ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ spoken. Touch the Sky was about just Merida. A Noble Maiden was them singing together and Into the Open Air was about them addressing each other. But now they have a solid ‘we’ perspective that they speak concurringly from. It is self awareness and taking responsibility for your own actions. At the beginning, Merida refused to take blame for the Bear spell and blamed the witch just like she blamed her mother for not being happy. She owns up to it come the second dawn. “We will be who we are and we will heal our scars and sadness with be far away.” They let each other be themselves and work with that rather than asserting themselves over each other. They are mending their bond and happily ever after.

    I LOVE Brave, even without having ‘grown up’ on it because she was very adventurous and strong. She was outdoorsy. She had the strength to rockclimb, ride all day and shot like a pro. I was disappointed that the story didn’t have more in it. I was let down that all she had to do was bond with her mother. Having a bad relationship with mine makes that unappealing, but all the more important. I don’t want to be chained down by expectations and conventions, but I need to learn to yield to some of society for the good of everyone, including myself. While being humble exactly was not stressed, it was a good lesson from it. Not doing what you want all the time is not a bad thing. It doesn’t make you less, which is what she and I fear(ed). Her mother grew too. She let her hair down and went riding again, which she hadn’t done since the opening. She relearned to enjoy herself. I love the idea of freedom the movie expresses, even if it’s measured with discipline. It has action and tenderness and GORGEOUS scenery. ❤ The atmosphere it creates, be it sunlight riverbank or misty forests, is captivating.

    Not having a love interest was definitely a relief. Especially with more urgent things going on, I’m glad they didn’t try to make her fall in love with anyone. Too much too fast considering none of the suitors were Mary Sues and perfect. There are so many stigmas, all of which can be true about the pros and cons of having love stories. Some say that it’s ridiculous that girl’s best happy endings are with a love interest, not just their own accomplishments. Others say, why not get a man too, like Mulan, both strong and lovey dovy? Well until Elsa there was no woman who got a happy ending without a man. It really does reinforce the idea that marriage is the ultimate goal, not just an extra perk to a great life. Actually, that’s not quite true. Melody does not have a love interest, being a drastically younger teen. But I don’t see Princess Melody in the Disney Princess Royal Lineup.

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