Frozen’s Elsa Character Analysis – We Are All Elsa

(Warning: Mild Spoilers. )

I want to talk today about one of the most amazing characters to be cranked out of Disney.

Queen Elsa.

Afraid of the world :(
Afraid of the world 🙁

Though she has definitely been embraced by the LGBT community, in a very strong way she also represents anyone who has ever had to suppress a part of their true nature. Perhaps as simple as having to push aside artistic drive because we’ve been told it’s a fruitless endeavor, to as complex a scenario is having to hide sometimes crippling emotional anguish, a lack of self confidence, depression, and so on. The creative team has confirmed that this was all intentional. And though perhaps saying we are all Elsa is a bit of a stretch – there are probably a lot of Anna’s out there – we’ve all had a point in our lives where we’ve felt we’ve had to hide something about who we are, out of fear of rejection, social outcasting, or failure.

Elsa’s entire existence is this very basic human tale. She’s spent her entire young life hiding, isolated in a room with an intense fear of human contact enforced by less-than-stellar parents whose decision was to lock her away rather than find ways to explore and control her gift. That inner storm may rage more intensely for some than others, but it’s still an extremely relatable conflict.

That brings me to “Let It Go”, and why a song that is so upbeat and empowering could also bring tears to people’s eyes. That’s because the song revolves around a very alluring yet very frightening concept – complete freedom of self.

Let’s face it – being truly, all-encompassingly free is something that human beings crave but are actually extremely terrified of. Think about it – what’s holding us back, really? What’s stopping us from upping and following our dreams or just being ourselves? Technically, nothing. Nada. Zip. But the chains of social conditioning are hard to break – and that’s why “Let It Go” is such a powerful song to consider – because here is a woman who is finally able to do just that. She’s stopped giving a crap. She is all about being who she is. We all want to be there. But that power has consequences, and that aspect of her awakening was also not ignored.

Even after her self-awakening, Elsa still needs to face conflict.
Even after her self-awakening, Elsa still needs to face conflict.

It’s the lesson Elsa has to learn by the end of the movie. The decision to change her character from the main villain to someone who instead found peace in her power, but also needs to learn how to be responsible for it, is a decision I can’t thank Frozen’s team enough for for. It made Elsa one of the most realistic characters I’ve ever encountered in a Disney film – we feel for her, we want to sing right beside her as she embraces her true self, but at the same time we also recognize her desire to ignore the consequence of her actions on the world is not a good thing.

Yes, she is free, but her state of being is still damaging and she has to learn how to take that freedom and make it work with her environment. Not caring at all is not ideal – and Elsa almost pays a very dear price for her negligence.

So we come full circle with Elsa’s development. Yes, Anna is charming and lovely, but she stays true to her nature, already mostly balanced, throughout the film. The love she has for her sister never wavers – even if at times she is frustrated or fearful. Her romantic flaws are a lesson, but a sideline to her true quest. Elsa, on the other hand, goes through an entire arc of change, allowing her to be imperfect but perfect at the same time. She learns that although she has embraced her true nature she still has a lot to learn, she can still hurt people and that’s not the right way to go, and to move on she needs to allow the people in her lives – loved ones current and future – and take that journey without having to be completely alone.

Without a doubt – Frozen is a beautiful story that is surprisingly complex, and words can’t truly express how wonderful it is that Elsa exists not as a villain, but as a sensitive and flawed being who is able to break through her inner turmoil and reveal the real beauty that she is.

Get it, Gurl.
Get it, Gurl.

To The Readers: What are your thoughts on Elsa as a character? Or Frozen in general? Is she relatable? Comment below!

  • Luana

    Totally agreed with everything you said. Elsa is probably my new favourite “Disney princess”. Great character they did there.

    • anonymous

      I’m with you on that.

  • Marisa Louisa

    It’s not fair to blame her parents. They, like real parents, want to protect their children, and it is not easy to do so, yet Elsa is able to break free from that vicious cycle. The sisters love each other dearly but have trouble showing it until one nearly dies a second time. Has anyone noticed the Elsa “snowflake design”? You see it as her symbol often.

    • I worry about being too forgiving to her parents. Protecting their children is important, yes, but I still feel they went about it the completely wrong way. Elsa has powers – there’s nothing that could change that. But instead of seeking ways for her to learn how to control and use those powers, they locked her away in a room and kept her hidden from even her own family. They drove a chasm between Anna and Elsa, and taught Elsa the only way for her to exist was in total isolation.

      I’m not saying they were malicious but they were extremely neglegent, IMO, and this is something we see a LOT with parents who don’t know or understand their kids who may have quirks that are “out of the norm”.

      • SChaput

        Yes, it wasn’t malicious but nobody is perfect and they made mistakes. Had they not died they may have come to rectify them. Elsa made many mistakes too but had the chance to make it right.

  • fangznclawz

    The fear of freedom is indeed universal and goes much deeper than you suggest: In William Manchester’s 1968 ‘The Arms of Krupp” he tells the story of five Jewish women horribly tormented during World War II in the ‘Gustahlfabrik’ (cast steel factory) of the arms manufacturer of the title. The women noted that when the Allied bombers arrived, they had a chance of escape because of the panic of the Germans. They planned their escape, and when the bombers next arrived, ran for the fences. However, of the five, one turned back. The Hell she knew was preferable to the uncertainty of freedom.

    And it should be noted, that no one lives truly free, shorn of the consequences of the impact of their actions upon others. A quote from Queen Eleanor, Meridas’ mother in ‘Brave’ is perhaps appropriate here: “Have you thought what your freedom will cost?”

  • shaunn

    Good analysis. However, I should point out that Elsa never really gives up her sense of responsibility. When she first unleashes her power and declares herself “free”, she has no idea that her power is affecting other people. She assumes that she can be herself without harming anyone. When she realizes that this is not the case, she immediately tries to bring her power under control, something that she finds impossible to do. Elsa is never irresponsible; she is actually constrained by her responsibility. She feels the weight of it all the time, which is one of the reasons that “Let It Go” is so liberating.

  • Crystal Prism

    Honestly,I find Elsa difficult to relate to,because I don’t really have anything to hide(besides my yaoi addiction :P) I find Anna more relatable because she’s awkward and clumsy,just like me. I also find her relatable because she (kind of) made the first move. She realized that Kristoff liked her,so she kissed him,she’s so much like me. That said,I can still relate to Elsa,I’m just as(if not too much so) responsible.

    • anonymous

      I’ll always relate to Elsa more than Anna because the latter gets under my skin with her immaturity and her screams while the former has a troubled past like I do.

      • Evelyn Looi

        So you’re saying that people who hate Elsa are “biased” but not the ones who hate Anna?

    • Evelyn Looi

      Yeah, I agree.

  • Hank

    Elsa is probably the most irresponsible, poor role model to come out of animated movies in a long time. She freezes the entire kingdom trapping hundreds, if not thousands of people and preventing them from doing their work or returning to their own places. On top of this, she almost kills her sister at least 3 times, nearly kills a dozen other people throughout the movie, and the real kicker is, she never even offers an ounce of an apology. She clearly has terrible morals yet expects everything to be handed to her. After all of these outright terrible things that would account for at least a dozen felonies in any country around the world, she comes back to “her” kingdom, throws a little dust in the air, and suddenly everyone loves her. The original plot had her being an antagonist and it’s easy to see why. Her character is so unlikable it should alienate anybody who watches this with even a slight sense of moral worth. Think about it, Elsa never once offers an apology or explanation to anybody in the entire movie….

    Elsa aside, I actually really liked the movie and it’s certainly one of the better things that Disney has put out recently but it’s just so impossibly and aggressively irresponsible of this new “Princess” to act the way she did. I mean hell, the real antagonist is the only one who actually did any good for the kingdom in the entire movie. He rallied the people, gave them tasks to improve their situations, and protected those who might actually need help. Of course he did a full 180, when he attempted to usurp and kill of the two sisters, but if you look beyond that to his actual merits, Hanz actually has the abilities to be a good ruler. Much more so than Elsa or Anna. With either of them in a seat of power I can’t imagine the kingdom prospering, let alone surviving very long.

    Anybody who really praises Elsa for what she’s worth, which doesn’t seem to be very much, apparently relates to an outcasted, socially inept, hazerdous lunatic who suffers from severe personality and dissonance disorders. I’m sure you don’t want to hear it, but you really have to. At least before we have young girls walking around imitating this clearly deranged princess character.

    • Elsas personality girl

      Your mean!!!!! I hate you!!!!

      • anonymous

        So do I, my fellow fan of Elsa. What a biased jerk he is. He just doesn’t understand Elsa. And all those people who voted him up are as blind in the head as he is.

        • Evelyn Looi

          Yeah, I wouldn’t judge Elsa too harshly. I don’t like Anna or Elsa as my favorite Disney Princesses anymore, but I’m not going to treat them as the villains and Hans as the good guy. Hans has shown no heroic qualities whatsoever, everything he did was out of selfishness, even his good deeds. Elsa and Anna may have made bad decisions, but they did so for mostly selflessness.

    • Renegade1765

      SCREW YOU!I love Elsa with all my heart.You’re nothing but a jerk.I hope you’ll burn in hell.HELL!

      • anonymous

        Now that’s what I like to read.

    • Christian Villa

      You need to watch this movie again, because you misunderstood some of the stuff that happened there. If you didn’t pay attention, it is easy to think of Elsa as a villain because it is what it was supposed to be originally, all of it was retooled for Elsa’s misdeeds not being completely her fault.

      • anonymous

        How right you are, fellow Elsa fan.

    • Punkandglamour

      ROFL @ mansplaining here.

      1) Elsa is QUEEN. When’s the last time the Queen of England apologized to anyone for anything.
      2) From the first moment we see Hanz, he’s a shmuch. He tells Ana EXACTLY what she wants to hear because he’s a master manipulator. Han is a mirror. In EVERY scene he is in, he mimics what the other person is doing in the scene. When he meets Ana she is dreaming of a perfect prince and perfect life and oh look who it is! An equally socially awkward reasonably attractive person. She leaves dreamy eyes and he mirrors her. When they meet again at the coronation bar Ana is weak and upset over being rebuffed by her sister again. Her need for SOME kind of deep connection with a person is one Hanz is willing to fake. Han wants exactly what she wants that “love is an open door”. He echoes her same words and even when she is NOT thinking the same as him, he agrees with her. “It’s crazy how we finish each others… sandwhiches” is not what Hanz was thinking, but he’ll tell her what she needs to hear to be with him. There’s a moment when Elsa’s magic is unleashed and she looks up afraid and concerned, Hanz mimics her EXACTLY. When Ana says she’s going to get her sister, Hanz says I’ll come to. She leaves him behind to be a version of her in Arendelle. As interim governor Arendelle he reflects the kindness he is shown by the locals, when the Duke approaches him Hanz reflects the Dukes arrogance and bravado right back at him. When Hanz see’s Elsa in her ice chamber he speaks her innermost fears by saying “Don’t be the monster they fear you are”. There is no true Hanz. Hanz is a mirror, and that’s a sign of a sociopath, someone who uses that kind of manipulation. We never learn who he REALLY is but he’s hardly someone to be admired.
      3) If anyone is the hero of this movie it’s Ana. Ana, matures, saves her sister from death, puts her life at risk over and over again. Ana is the hero of Frozen, showing that the real true love is between the people who have always cared for each other… not random princes and that the bond between siblings is one that is strong even when we have been separate from each other for a long time.

    • Punkandglamour

      If you don’t believe me there’s an INTERVIEW with Jennifer Lee where she discusses that Hanz is a mirror, and he is the embodiment of the original mirror in the original fable. She literally says “It was like Anna fell in love with her own reflection in the pong. He is HOLLOW.

    • anonymous

      Oh shut up, you damn hater! You don’t know Elsa very well because you don’t understand her. I do because I know what it’s like to be an outcast. the people who hater are biased towards her because they’re unable to accept her for who she is. And you’re one of them.

      Why don’t you try putting yourself in the shoes of Anna’s sister and experience the problems that she had?

      • Evelyn Looi

        Whoa chill. He/she was just expressing his/her own opinion.

        I’ve met people who hated Anna before on a pro-Anna blog and I reacted the same way you did to people who voiced their raw opinions about why they hate Anna.

        I apologized and moved on. I didn’t insult everyone who hated Anna, I only told the ones who were harassing Anna-lovers on a pro-Anna blog.

        So why don’t you do the same? Not everyone has to like Elsa. Not everyone has to like Anna either.

        You’re making it look like that people who love Elsa are right and people who hate Anna are right too.

    • Anon

      I’m not gonna disagree with your claims because she definitely did the things you said she does but let me ask you this, have you ever suffered from deep depression or PTSD? Or at least know someone who has?

      Depression and PTSD are not something to take lightly because it’s one of the worst things a human being could go through, some people have committed suicide because of this.

      From my own experience, Elsa’s portrayal was spot on to how people in the real world with PTSD or deep depression act. The way she kept pushing people away and wanting to figure things out on her own is exactly how post war veterans with PTSD act. My grandfather definitely acted like that when it came to discussing about World War II.

      People, specifically Anna, kept pushing for Elsa to find an answer to a problem that she has no answer to. It’s easy to tell someone to do, but it’s hard to convince someone who undoubtedly suffers from deep depression or PTSD to do something that they have legitimate fear over. It’s always best to leave them alone as most doctors recommend.

      Mind you Anna wasn’t at fault for trying to convince Elsa, but her methods were questionable per say. She should have went about it in a more calm, soothing way instead of trying to pressure her sister into doing something she didn’t, or rather, cannot do.

      This isn’t like a parent trying to make his kid try out for sports. It’s kind of like telling someone who recently lost a loved one in their life to get over it after losing them for just a day, it doesn’t work like that.

      Elsa is basically a metaphor for deep depression and PTSD, and like in the real world, it’s best not to pressure someone like her because you’ll only be making matters worse. It’s best to try and encourage them in calm and soothing way, at least, that’s what most experts claim.

      • Emily

        Although I think that you are correct, I feel like Elsa’s actions are incredibly uncharacteristic of someone who has had little contact with others and has grown up being extremely emotionally repressed. I respect your knowledge about PTSD, but I wouldn’t diagnose Elsa with it. I agree that she has depression, but Elsa is very unsure of herself; she only learns to control her powers at the end of the movie. I think that someone that conflicted and confused would be unlikely to run out on their own or would be fine knowing that they had condemned their family.

  • Elsas personality girl

    Elsa is insecure, an introvert, and not exactly a lover. But she is a truly original and different disney Queen/Princess. Unlike the other disney pricesses she is a soul trapped in fear. Let it go, the hit disney song attracted a lot of people. Elsa was free at last, but this would last shortly. When Anna found Elsa alone at her castle Elsa immediately switches back to her fear mode as she clearly states she is a fool for all she has done. Anna reassures Elsa but it it isn’t enough so Elsa accidentally freezes Anna again. Not knowing this, she sends Anna away by making Marshmallow the abdominal snowman. And as for Elsa, she loses control of her powers again starts ruining her castle. Within minutes, some castle guards arrive and take Elsa to prison. Elsa escapes and Anna helps her unfreeze the blasting winter. Over all Anna represents happiness and love and Elsa represents protection and caringness. Elsa and Anna are two lovable sisters but so different from each other. Be yourself!

  • Elsas personality girl

    Elsa and Anna rule!

  • Michael Rinella

    Elsa is definitely the most complex character and for that reason the most interesting, but her on-screen time after Act 1 (which feels rushed and begs many questions) is rather small. But when she is on-screen in Acts 2 and 3 it’s some of the best moments in the film.

  • Taylor Bell

    I am mentally ill, and suffer from ptsd, which makes it difficult for me to function in public at times, though through therapy I’m getting better. Seeing Frozen, and specifically Elsa, meant something to me. I could relate to her so much. Hearing the song Let It Go, finally gave me the strength to look forward, after weeks of fear and uncertainty following me escaping the abusive situation I had been trapped in for years prior. Elsa may be flawed, but she has her own set of struggles in life to overcome just like everyone else, and she as a character gave me strength when I felt I could never find anyone to relate to. And I think almost anyone who suffers from mental illness can say the same, that they saw themselves in her, and that in turn gave them strength as well, watching her find that not only does she not have to face her struggles alone, but she is able to overcome them as well, even when they seemed so insurmountable.

  • I love you Elsa

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  • Elsa

    Frozen elsa the candy movie