Have you ever gone back and reminisced about your childhood favorites, especially films? I often do. I even go back and watch old favorites every so often. However, it wasn’t until recently that I realized just how much I learned about sin through Disney films. In fact, a lot of great lessons can be found in the movies that shaped our childhood. Don’t believe me? Here are examples of how Disney villains have embodied the 7 deadly sins.
Scar (The Lion King). How far will Scar go to gain the throne as the King of the Jungle and get back his rightful place in the succession line for the throne? Oh boy, you have no idea if you haven’t seen the movie. Motivated by jealousy, he plots the death of his brother, Mufasa, and his nephew, Simba, with glee. After he succeeds in getting Mufasa killed—even being the one who ultimately throws his to his death (very Cain and Abel), he then targets Simba who is the only one standing in his way. After failing to get Simba killed, Scar uses emotional and mental manipulation—and another attempt at murder—to try to get rid of him.
Dishonorable mention: The Evil Queen (Snow White).
Ursula (The Little Mermaid). The sea witch uses Ariel’s love of land – and her newfound crush on Prince Eric – for her ultimate goal: overthrowing Ariel’s father, King Triton, and becoming the ruler of all the seas. Of course, she doesn’t tell Ariel her motives; she simply wants to “help” the young mermaid get her man. Oh, sweet, naïve Ariel. Ursula’s pride was wounded when King Triton banished her from his kingdom, and she will stop at nothing to get her revenge. Hmm, a mixture of pride and revenge isn’t very attractive, now is it?
Dishonorable mentions: Hades (Hercules), the Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland), Captain Hook (Peter Pan), and Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty).
Jafar (Aladdin). Jafar, as well as the majority of villains on this list, could fit across several of these deadly sins but his lust for Jasmine is what sets him apart from most other villains. Jafar not only wants riches and power (greed), he also wants a trophy wife and Jasmine is the gal for him. He lusts so much after her, that his original final wish request to Genie is that he (Genie) make her fall madly in love with him. In his words, the reason they should be together is because a pretty girl like her “should be on the arm of the most powerful man in the world.” Attractive . . . not.
Dishonorable mention: Judge Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame).
Gluttony and Sloth
Lucifer (Cinderella). No character embodies gluttony and sloth quite like Lady Tremaine’s spoiled lazy, spoiled, and gluttonous cat, Lucifer. What a name, am I right? So, what does he do all day besides try to catch Cinderella’s poor mice friends? Nothing but lounge around and eat . . . and do what he can to contribute to his mistress’ quest to make Cinderella’s life utterly miserable. They say pets resemble their owners and Lucifer certainly proves that adage right. Due to his gluttonous nature, he is overweight and can be clumsy when trying to pull of his schemes.
Dishonorable mention: Gideon (Pinocchio).
There was no shortage of candidates for this category. However, Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas) is one of the most obvious (and overlooked) characters to embody the sin of greed. Captain John Smith and Governor Ratcliffe sail to the New World seeking gold and status. That’s where the similarities begin and end. While John Smith also looks for adventure, Governor Ratcliff just wants gold. Plain and simple. Governor Ratcliffe stops at nothing to ensure he gets his wealth, elevating his status in the process. He clears the wooded areas where he thinks there may be gold, demanding that his crew do what they can to find him some gold. He even instructs the crew to kill any “savages” if they stand in their way.
Dishonorable mentions: Hans (Frozen), Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove), Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmations), Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog), Madame Medusa (Rescuers Down Under), and Edgar Balthazar (The Aristocats).
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast). No one fights like Gaston, and no loves themselves quite like Gaston. As if his “handsome” looks and physical strength aren’t enough to puff that enormous ego of his, the women falling all over themselves of him and his sidekick trying to be more like him add to his vanity. The epitome of narcissism, his ego is wounded when the object of his affection, Belle, rejects his marriage proposal. His extreme jealousy and anger over the ordeal lead him to gather townspeople to kill his romantic rival, the Beast (Prince Adam).
Dishonorable mentions: Shan Yu (Mulan) and Mother Gothel (Tangled).
This is just a partial list of Disney villains and how they fit into each of the 7 deadly sins. The list of villains is far too great to write about them all and there are constantly new films being released. As previously mentioned, some villains fit into more than one category. Which characters would you place in each category, and why?