A recent query on Huffington post surprised me because what stymied the author was so obvious to me.
His question: What causes Queen Elinor to act like a real bear?
We witness the absurdity of Queen Elinor as a bear attempting to eat with a knife and fork. She is enormous and unaware of her new dimensions and capacities. She first taps into her “animal” nature when her daughter, Merida, encourages to fish for herself. As Elinor rises to enter into the river, she takes off her crown, symbolizing the weight of the tremendous responsibilities she feels as a queen and mother. She then experiences freedom as she takes risks, makes mistakes, and discovers her long-lost instinctual, creative nature that could even catch fish in her mouth.
After having a taste of this important, essential animal-quality of self, she was not going to give it up so easily. In a very real sense she had to completely forget the “queenly” ways of being that she had overly-identified with in order to somehow keep ahold of the other aspect of her spirit she had just accessed in the wild flowing river – symbolizing true engagement with life.
The second time she succumbs completely to her bear/animal nature is when she sees the apple, symbolizing the inner conflict of the dual roles of decorum and standards vs. spontaneity and intuition. She’d had a taste of the freedom that comes with her animal and was going to fight to keep it alive.
At the end of the movie, the woman Elinor emerges, changed and whole, able to integrate her wild, free, feminine side with her ruling, nurturing, mothering sides as well. In this way, Merida too is able to let go of vehemently identifying with her wild animal nature and can become more fully integrated as well.
So often in families, when one person represses essential, core qualities of who they are, other members of the family (most often the children) will take on those rejected, denied qualities – to their own detriment. They become overly identified with those wild, ungrounded aspects of self to the exclusion of the other, capable competencies also required of us to live successfully in modern society.
The hopeful message at the end of the movie for me is that we truly can integrate all aspects of ourselves and be that much more empowered and able to live from our hearts and our true natures – bringing greater peace to all our relating as a result. It’s impossible to relate peacefully when we are at war within ourselves.