Jane Austen’s Frozen or Who Needs Edward?

Jane Austen’s Frozen or Who Needs Edward?

Welcome to another edition of Jane Austen meets Disney! I wish I could blame my Disney enthusiasm on my young children, but the fact is that I find them enjoyable at any age! Even if you haven’t seen Disney’s highest grossing film, you’re likely familiar with the award winning song, Let it Go, at the very least. Don’t worry, I won’t include any audio clips!

Elsa and Anna are sisters and the best of friends until a secret separates them in their childhood. Anna is more wild and carefree, prone to recklessness, while Elsa is more reserved and motherly. As Elsa must keep her magical powers a secret, she entirely withdraws. Anna is consumed with emotion and selfishness. It is entirely about her and that she wants to play. She never asks if Elsa is unwell or has a reason for her isolation. She never offers to simply accept her sister as she is and sit with her or whatever activity Elsa would enjoy instead. This is excused by the girls’ young age but continues to drive a wedge between them as they age and Anna retains a belief of victimization.

Elsa’s magic is suddenly revealed one night, but Anna does not fear her sister the way the rest of the town does. She impulsively chases after Elsa. Desiring to keep Anna safe, Elsa pushes her away and accidentally wounds her, sending ice to her heart. The sisters both love each other but could not be more disjointed. As the ice begins to take hold, Elsa is threatened by Prince Hans. Believing all hope to be gone, she doesn’t even seem willing to fight back, but Anna bravely rushes forward to save Elsa just before turning into a block of ice. Her sacrifice removes the ice from her heart (only an act of true love can do so), and Elsa learns to reverse the accidental storm she made, all she needs to do is embrace her love for family and friends.

As a Janeite, I see the world through Austen colored lenses. Because Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book, I often try to look at things through that shade. Such it was during my first few viewings of Frozen. Then, one day while listening to the CD in the car with my three year old daughter for the twenty thousandth time, it hit me the Austen story it’s really like is Sense and Sensibility.

It’s obvious to anyone who knows the film, it’s a story about sisters. I think Frozen is an excellent adaptation of themes we know from Sense and Sensibility bundled up with fairy tale lore and a 21st century twist.

The root of Austen’s first published work is about sisters retaining their love for each other after their life is turned upside down, precipitated by their father’s death. Marianne is passionate, impulsive, and reckless. The exact nature of her relationship with Mr. Willoughby is unclear to Elinor, and she often disapproves of her younger sister’s behavior. Likewise, Elinor keeps things close to the heart and has secrets. Marianne finds Elinor cold because she cannot have Marianne’s passion for all things.

It is only through the course of the book that the sisters are able to reconcile and fully accept one another. Marianne learns some of Elinor’s sense while Elinor gains some of Marianne’s sensibility. Like Anna, Marianne fancies herself in love built on nothing more than “mental synchronization” and having common thoughts and interests. Putting her “love” for Hans above her sister is what ultimately reveals Elsa’s magical powers. Once she focuses on finding Elsa and offering support, she meets and falls in love with Kristoff, who loves her despite her reckless ways. Elsa learns to take on some of Anna’s energy and animation to express love—not just through distance—and learns to control her powers.

To complete the comparison, Hans is clearly Willoughby. Kristoff is easily Colonel Brandon, even as he mocks Anna’s impulsivity he is smitten by it. His adopted family of match-making trolls are certainly Mrs. Jennings. Olaf, the talking snowman without bones or a brain, personifies Mrs. Dashwood. This leaves Sir John Middleton in the role of Sven, the non-speaking reindeer who is Kristoff’s best friend. (If only Sir John would be non-speaking.)


What’s that? There’s no Edward Ferrars? Well, perhaps the creators of Frozen, like many a reader, believed Elinor didn’t need Edward. What do you think? It’s something It’s on my mind more and more as I continue to plot and write my Witches of Austen series and the characters of Sense and Sensibility are making an appearance.



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John Smith
John Smith
February 3, 2018 4:34 AM

The emotions in Disney are not subtle and truthful like they are in Austen, I think!

October 13, 2016 8:12 PM

ROSE, I loved this post! 🙂

Debbie Hughes
Debbie Hughes
June 20, 2017 7:35 AM
Reply to  carylkane

Me, too! I loved this post! I had never thought about the movie this way!

Lauren K.
Lauren K.
October 13, 2016 6:38 PM

I’m a huge fun of Disney and Pixar so I definitely appreciate this post. I only have god kids too young to sit through a movie but I have no problem catching a movie solo 🙂 I loved Frozen because it did a great job of showing that you don’t always need Prince Charming and showed the bond between sisters. I had never made the connection between S&S and Frozen but it really makes sense. I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment 🙂

Zoe Burton
October 13, 2016 5:41 PM

Great post, Rose! Looking forward to the next one! 😀

October 13, 2016 1:44 PM

I love S&S for that reason: it’s about the sisters. When I first saw Frozen (at the behest of a very young friend, who explained it to me as we watched), I was struck with the fact that unlike a great deal of the Disney films, this really isn’t about the girl getting the guy (or vice versa). It’s about sisters and learning that relationship can one of the strongest things. I can see the correlation very clearly! Elsa may not have needed an Edward, it wouldn’t have really added anything to the story, but Elinor did. Although I have quite often felt that Brandon and Elinor would have appreciated each other more, and Marianne should have been with someone else…LOL Great post.

Stephanie Littlejohn
Stephanie Littlejohn
October 13, 2016 7:57 PM
Reply to  Rose Fairbanks

There’s a great deal of Elinor in me and I think that’s why I’m not a fan of Edward. He drives me nuts. LOL Brandon and Knightley are my choice for Austen hero so you can see where my preference lies. 🙂 I agree, B and E might not have complimented as much but they would have understood each other better. My DH is my best friend, so I think along those lines.

October 13, 2016 9:26 AM

Hi Rose,

I’m really enjoying your Disney/Austen posts.

I don’t think an ‘Edward’ was needed in Frozen, but I do think Elinor needed her Edward. Especially in that day and age, but also because she did love him. I hadn’t seen your Witches of Austen series. I’m headed to Amazon to get one right now. I love the idea!


October 14, 2016 12:09 PM
Reply to  Rose Fairbanks

Split them up! 🙂 I love change.

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