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"Hercules" (1997): Megara Was Easily the Best Disney Princess

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Ash has a bachelor's in English Lit. She loves analyzing fiction and obsessing over books, film, and television.

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Just to be clear, a "Disney Princess" is the female lead in a Disney film -- not necessarily an actual princess. Megara was the female lead in Disney's Hercules, a 1997 children's animated musical (very loosely) based on the (tragic) hero Hercules from Greek mythology.

When engaging in nerdy arguments about who is the best Disney princess, someone my age would normally say Mulan. Or maybe Princess Jasmine. Mostly because they were kick-ass and people tend to think that the Warrior Princess trope is the epitome of Strong Female Character. But I have to say, my favorite has always been Megara, perhaps because I saw so much of my sarcastic, wretched self in her.

Likewise, I always thought Hercules was the best Disney "prince." He never lied to Megara or tried to trick her (coughAladdincough). He never violated her while she was sleeping, turned her into a frog, used a glass shoe to identify her because he forgot what her face looked like, turned his back on her and the Pridelands, or trapped her in his house with the hope that she would fall in love with him and marry him after said trapping. Let's face it: Disney princes are mostly awful.

I mean, Hercules was a great guy. He was the perfect candidate for a normal, healthy relationship. So why was Megara afraid to love him?

Because. No matter how great a person is, you can't love them until you overcome your own unhealed wounds. And Megara had been wounded.

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I was recently hurt by someone, and I hugged my knees and thought to myself, "Maybe I'm better off alone. At least I can't get hurt this way." Which makes no sense, I know, since I was hurt by someone I wasn't even dating.

Then I realized that I sounded like Megara -- except that Megara made the choice to keep believing in love!

In the film, we find out that Megara sold her soul to Hades in order to save her boyfriend's life. Her boyfriend repaid her by immediately dumping her for another woman. She was so deeply hurt that she became cynical and sarcastic and swore off love forever.

Cynicism is always characteristic of a person who has been disappointed by love. This was a person who likely believed in love strongly. Then they were hurt and stopped believing.

When we meet Megara in the film, she is still in this place of pain, and because of that, she is not in a position to love and appreciate Hercules -- no matter that he's a great guy.

You can't love someone if you can't trust them.

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This is where it gets inspiring.

I posit that Megara is the best Disney princess simply because she did something so incredibly brave: she took a chance on love again!

Hercules tells Megara that he would never (ever!) hurt her, and instead of believing him, she recoils into fear. It takes a full (and awesome) song with the Muses before she realizes that she should give love another chance.

There is nothing quite so brave as taking a chance on love when one has been hurt so deeply and terribly. Megara deserved more applause for this.

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What's more, Megara had the strength to love Hercules unconditionally.

When Hades twisted events to make it look as if Megara didn't really love Hercules, Hercules became depressed and turned his back on Meg, Phil, and all his friends -- even his own dreams to become a god. He was bitter and angry and wouldn't listen to Meg when she tried to apologize.

Rather than stop loving Hercules, Megara kept loving him. She didn't love him on the condition that he was never angry with her. She went on loving him regardless. Right to the very end, she chose love, giving her life to save him.

A lot of people would have just said, "Screw you, Hercules!" and would have been angry that Hercules didn't listen and would have walked away. But Megara understood that Hercules was just hurting, so she didn't walk away and protected his life to the very end.

Love is patient. Love is kind.

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The entire film was about the strength of the human heart, having the strength to go on loving someone at their best and at their worst -- but not to your own detriment. You should never allow someone to abuse you.

Unconditional love, and the ability to express it, is incredible. It's more powerful than being a kick-ass princess who fights with swords, does karate, or even rides dragons (okay, about even on that last one).

Megara was hurt badly, decided to heal from the pain -- because healing is a choice -- and went on to find true love! How inspiring is that?

Silly as it sounds, it gave me the strength to stop moping over being hurt.

No one on Earth is worth stopping yourself from finding true love.

© 2019 Ash