“Mia Thermopolis, Prin-cess, of Genovia,” became a well known saying in 2001, when Anne Hathaway played the character, Mia Thermopolis, in a movie known as, “The Princess Diaries.” The movie revolves around Mia, a bit of an outcast at school, who is visited by her father’s mother on her 16th birthday, and is told she is a princess. Mia at first rejects the idea and cannot take her grandmother, the Queen of Genovia, seriously. She finally agrees to begin taking “Princess Lessons,” and gets a makeover in which the kids at school make fun of her for. Of course, being a sixteen year old girl, Mia is faced with the everyday challenges, such as boys, and friendships, all while learning how to be proper royalty. When Mia is told she must announce she will be accepting the role as princess, she decides to run away. That is until, she reads a letter from her deceased father. This gives her the courage to go to the ball and make the public appearance. The movie ends with Mia on a plane, flying over the castle she will one day live in, in Genovia.


Throughout the first movie there are many moments in which structuralism is prevalent. Defined by Peter Barry in “Beginning Theory, An introduction to literary and cultural theory,” he writes, “It is difficult to boil structuralism down to a single ‘bottom-line’ proposition, but if forced to do so I would say that its essence is the belief that things cannot be understood in isolation – they have to be seen in the context of the larger structures they are part of (hence the term ‘structuralism’)” (34). This concept is a widely used idea. Most people do not understand something, until they are able to place it with another situation they are much more familiar with. This method of analysis is used when trying to decipher human behavior, culture, and human cognition. The scene when Mia’s Grandmother, Clarisse, tells Mia she is a princess (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iJ6Q8BHg5s) is an example of Structuralism. Clarisse first asks Mia if she has ever heard of the Prince of Genovia, Mia answers no and asks why he is of importance. Clarisse then tells Mia he was her father. Mia makes her first realization that if he is indeed her father, then that would make her a princess. In this moment, Mia puts the two together by applying previous knowledge, probably from movies and childhood stories, of how royal families function to determine she is also royalty. After her Grandmother confirms this information Mia exclaims, “Me, a princess, shut up!” In this moment, Clarisse is faced with structuralism when she deciphers “shut up,” to be an insult. One of her butlers must intervene to say, “Your Majesty, in America it doesn’t always mean be quiet. Here it could mean, wow, gee whiz, golly wolly…” Due to Mia’s outburst, Clarisse is exposed to the American culture and must have examples of exclamations used in Europe.


In the second movie, “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement,” Mia is living in Genovia, but Parliament rules Mia must find an English suitor and marry within the month if she is going to assume the responsibilities and title of Queen, much to her grandmother’s dismay. Mia has many trials with men. She and her best friend Lily, pick one man suitable for a husband, but after falling in love with another man, she does not want to go through with the marriage. Clarisse encourages her to follow her heart, something she wished she had done when she was younger. At this moment, the strongest moment of feminist criticism arises. As Peter Barry in “Beginning Theory, An introduction to literary and cultural theory,” writes, “The feminist literary criticism of today is the direct product of the ‘women’s movement’ of the 1960s. This movement was, in important ways, literary from the start, in the sense that it realised the significance of the images of women promulgated by literature, and saw it as vital to combat them and question their authority and their coherence” (85). Feminist criticism fights for the equality between women and men, and makes sure women are seen as a powerful force in literature, not just a helpless character, who needs a man to make their life easier. In the movie, Mia enters the church in which she is supposed to go forth with her arranged marriage. Unbeknownst to many, the wedding has been called off and instead she stands in front of everyone to make a speech. Mia declares her grandmother Clarisse ruled as Queen for many years after her husband died, and did a fabulous job of it. She questions why it is that she must marry, if the country essentially survived under the rule of a woman for so many years as it is. Mia asks the members of Parliament in the audience to consider all of the women in their lives and if they would force them into marriage and deny their rights to a title. Men begin standing up in agreement and abolish the marriage rule. Mia is later crowned as the Queen of Genovia. This moment is a powerful moment for feminist criticism because Mia is stating her authority and coherence, representing the significance of women in the royal world, and in general by exhibiting the idea that women are capable of any job, with OR, without a man.

mia thermopolis


Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. Print.


Jayatissa, Yes. “Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.” Blogspot. Awesome Inc., 23 June 2012. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

Literary MBTI Types. “Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Grimaldi Renaldo, Crown Princess of Genovia, Simply Known As Mia – The Princess Diaries.” Tumblr. Tumblr, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

Oh My Disney. “MIA THERMOPOLIS IS ALL OF US.” OH MY DISNEY. Disney, 2015. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.