- “If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?”
Princess Merida is the main protagonist of Disney/Pixar's Academy Award-winning 2012 film Brave. She is voiced by Kelly Macdonald and is the first Scottish princess in the Disney Princess franchise. Merida is the eleventh official Disney Princess followed by Anna and Elsa.
Merida is a very brave, bold, daring, courageous, stubborn, rebellious and headstrong girl who does not fit the stereotypical princess role. Rather than being a damsel in distress who is subservient to the customs, traditions, and social restrictions her society places on her and expects her to follow, Merida openly rebels and defies her heritage as a princess and would like for nothing more than to be a normal girl. She is very athletic and enjoys nothing more than riding her horse Angus and practicing her archery, of which she is the best in the kingdom. She also seems to be skilled in sword fighting, as shown in the Brave Featurette "Cutting the Class". She tends to be ungraceful and has bad manners, and is extremely tomboyish.
In terms of personality, she greatly parallels and resembles her father, as the two both tend to be unruly, impulsive, and loud. However, she also does resemble her mother in terms of stubbornness and inability to listen to others.
When Merida was younger, she was a very small, cute little child and had a close relationship with both her mother and her father. She showed a curious side as she followed the wisps, despite needing to go back to the trail and seemed to believe in the legends and myths of her kingdom, highlighting her innocence and naivety. She also tended to be playful, as shown by her playing hide and seek with her mother and being very hyperactive. She is also shown to have developed an interest in archery early on her childhood, possibly by influence from her father.
As she has grown up, Merida is still very energetic and free spirited, but has a more strained relationship with her mother (though she still holds the same good relationship with her father) and is more rebellious. This is because she views the strict training and social etiquette that her mother teaches her as tedious and bothersome. She also views her mother places too much expectation on her to become the same type of person she is without listening to what she wants to be, which is true since her mother continually and strictly instructed her in how to be a "proper" princess arranged for the three clans to present the three clans' next heirs as potential fiances for Merida without her consent while neglecting Merida's feelings. However, Merida also hardly ever understands her mother's feelings about wanting to do what she believed would be best for Merida or properly conveying her feelings and understanding how her desire for freedom and rebelliousness could potentially and negatively affect the kingdom. Over the course of the film, however, after Merida rebonds with her mother (in bear form) while they catch fish to eat at a river bank and realizes all the trouble she has caused with her reckless actions, she proceeds to make amends and (with help from her mother) creates a diplomatic solution that allows everyone to be happy and for her to have a better understanding of the importance of her mother's role and wisdom while teaching her mother to learn to listen and understand her better.
She is also shown to be very adventurous and brave, as she enjoys wandering around the forests that surround her kingdom and even climbed the Crone's Tooth and drank from the fire falls, something her father has mentioned that only the bravest kings have done. She was also willing to defend her mother from her father after her father tried to kill her (as she was in her bear form and he mistakenly believed that she in her bear form killed Elinor) and again when she shot arrows at Mor'du to protect him from attacking her father.
Unfortunately, Merida is very short tempered and impulsive, causing her to do things without considering the consequences her actions can lead to. For example, she wanted her parents to call off the gathering for the three clans allied with the DunBroch despite the fact it could possibly lead to war. She also entered the games that would determine who would be her bride so she could "shoot for her own hand". However, she was unaware that this would lead to a disagreement between the three clans and Dubroch clan until after she returns to the castle with her mother after going to the witch's cottage in an attempt to find a way to reverse the curse that turned Elinor into the bear. This was also shown when she bought a spell from a witch to "change her mother" without realizing the potential harm the spell could do to her or what would happen to her. It is through seeing the consequences of her actions that she goes to appreciate the role her mother plays as diplomat, especially when (due to Elinor being a bear) Merida had to act as the diplomat and settle matters herself. This also helps to mend the distance between her and Elinor.
Merida can also be slightly selfish, as shown when after feeding her mother the cake that contained the spell that would "change her mother", she ignored her mother's pain and groaning and consistently bombarded her with questions of whether she had changed her mind about the engagement, and also when she wanted to call of the gathering, despite seemingly knowing it might cause trouble as she mentions "we expect your declarations of war in the morning". However, Merida can understand when she is in the wrong and will do her best to fix what has happened.
Despite her impulsiveness and short tempered nature, Merida can keep a calm head in a dangerous situation, as shown when she managed to calm her mother after her mother nearly attacked and ran frantically after the wisps and when she settled the dispute between the three different clans. She is also very quick witted, as she quickly managed to bargain the witch for a spell by offering to give her her necklace in exchange for all of the wood carvings and one spell and when she realized she could enter herself in the games as she was "the first born of the four clans" and could therefore win her own hand in marriage, along with understanding that Mor'du the bear was actually the prince from the legends who led his kingdom into war between him and his brothers due to his selfish desire and lust for power.
Merida is kind and caring to those she really cares about and who are very close to her, as shown through her interaction with her family, particularly her brothers (whom she dotes on). She is also shown to care for her horse, Angus, greatly, as she personally tends and cares for him and doesn't let anyone else do it for her.
Overall, Merida has grown throughout the course of the film from a stubborn, rebellious, and defiant person to a more understanding, open minded individual but remaining brave, courageous, kind, adventurous, free spirited, compassionate, and loyal to those she loves the most.
Princess Merida is the headstrong and free-spirited 16-year old tomboyish, willful daughter of Queen Elinor who rules the kingdom alongside her husband, King Fergus. Queen Elinor's expectations of her daughter causes Merida see Elinor as being distant while also causing friction between the two. Despite Elinor's desire to see Merida as a proper royal lady, Merida is an impetuous girl who wants to take control of her own destiny. Merida has honed her skill in archery, and is one of the most skilled archers ever seen. She is also skilled in sword-fighting and racing across the countryside on her horse, Angus. Despite her outgoing, forceful, headstrong and willful personality, Merida does have a playful softness of heart; particularly when it comes to her younger triplet brothers.
Role in Brave
Merida is first seen as a child playing hide-and-seek with her mother Queen Elinor on her birthday. Then she sees her father's bow on the table and asks him if she can shoot an arrow with it. Fergus, her father, presents her with her own bow as a birthday present. She accidentally shoots her 6th arrow into the forest and goes to retrieve it, but is distracted by a trail of Will O' the Wisps that appear before her. The Wisps lead her out of the forest and back to her parents. Elinor tells her that the wisps lead you to your fate, but Fergus doesn't believe it. Suddenly, Mor'du attacks, and Elinor and Merida flee while Fergus stays behind to fight the demonic bear.
Years later, Merida is a teenager that Queen Elinor is trying to make her into a proper princess of royalty despite Merida's objection. One day when there are no lessons, she goes riding on her horse Angus. She shoots arrows at targets she sets up in the forest, and just explores. She even climbs the Crone's Tooth and drinks from the Fire Falls in joy. Merida returns home to join her family for dinner. As she enters, Merida listens to Fergus telling her triplet brothers the story of his battle with Mor'du until she interrupts and tells them that their father lost his left leg in the battle, and Mor'du is waiting his chance of revenge. Moments later, Elinor tells Merida that the three Lords are coming to present their suitors to compete for her hand in marriage. Not wanting any of this, Merida angrily storms out of the Great Hall to her bedroom.
As she is striking her bedposts with her sword, Elinor enters telling her the story of a king who divided his kingdom for each of his four sons to rule, but the eldest wanted to rule the entire land and so brought chaos and war, and his desire to follow his own path led to the downfall of the kingdom. Merida still refuses to listen, but Elinor is adamant and tells Merida to go through with it even if she doesn't want it for the good of the kingdom. Moments later, Merida is seen in Angus's stall talking to Angus of what she would say to her mother about her wishes if she would listen. Merida is determined she will not marry whoever wins the games.
Days later, the Lords arrive in DunBroch. Elinor prepares Merida in a tight formal dress and they all gather in the Great Hall for the presentation of the suitors. Each of the Lords present their sons. Merida is not pleased with any of them. A brawl breaks out, at which Elinor is disgusted and Merida is displeased. Elinor proclaims that only the firstborn of the great leaders may compete in the games which gives Merida an idea of how to get out of the marriage: she declares that she chooses archery for the Highland Games.
When the competition begins, Merida sneaks her bow and arrows behind her throne. As the suitors shoot at the targets, she chats with Fergus about each of them until Wee Dingwall wins by accident, striking a bulls-eye. She sneaks off and appears on the field, declaring she will shoot for her own hand. Ignoring Elinor's protests, she strikes the bulls-eye of the first two suitors' targets. When she shoots an arrow through the full length of Wee Dingwall's arrow and through the target, she smiles... until she sees her furious mother.
Elinor drags and throws Merida into the tapestry room as they have a heated argument with each other about Merida's actions, with Elinor calling her a child and Merida calling her a beast for trying to ruin her life. Merida then throws a huge tantrum and slices the family tapestry between the pictures of herself and Elinor in a fit of rage, and Elinor throws Merida's bow into the fire out of anger. Merida tearfully runs away from the castle as Elinor quickly fishes the bow from the fire, feeling horribly guilty and she too begins to cry.
Merida is weeping as she rides Angus heedlessly through the forest until they come across the Ring of Stones and a trail of will o' the wisps leading them to a woodcarver's cottage. Noticing a broom that sweeps by itself and a talking crow, Merida discovers that this old woodcarver is actually a witch, and asks for a spell. The witch tells her to get out, threatening her with floating knives, until Merida offers to buy all her carvings with her pendant in exchange for a spell that will change her fate. The witch begrudgingly gives in and conjures up a cursed cake, which she says that she did for a prince who had wanted the strength of ten men and got what he wanted. Merida takes the cake and heads back to DunBroch.
She sneaks back into the kitchen to making the cake presentable, as Elinor enters the room, relieved to find her daughter home. Merida gives her the cake on a false peace offering and Elinor eats a piece, then suddenly starts feeling sick. Merida escorts Elinor to her chambers and puts her in bed. Suddenly Elinor starts transforming into a bear. Merida is horrified at the spell's effect and with her brothers' help gets Elinor out of the castle. They journey back to the Witch's cottage but they find her gone. Then they find the witch's cauldron with a ghostly image of the Witch in the potion-controlled automated voice message telling Merida that she has until the second sunrise to break the spell or her mother will remain a bear forever. The Witch tells Merida the way to do it was to remember the riddle "Fate be changed, look inside, mend the bond torn by pride." Baffled, Merida accidentally sabotages the cottage, so Merida and Elinor take shelter in the remains of the cottage for the night. Merida has a dream about a memory of her as a child with Elinor as they are both are singing "Noble Maiden Fair (A Mhaighdean Bhan Uasal)" together.
The next morning, Elinor brings some berries and water for breakfast. Merida explains that the berries are poisonous nightshade berries and the water has worms in it. They go to a creek, where Merida teaches her mother to catch fish, and they both start bonding.
Then Elinor heads into the forest and Merida follows her; but Elinor is not herself, and starts attacking her daughter until she returns to herself. Merida is confused until they see a trail of will o' the wisps and follow them to the ruins of a castle. Merida falls through the floor into a throne room and realizes it was the kingdom from the story Elinor was telling her about. Merida sees a stone with three figures and a split stone with the fourth figure and realizes that the curse has happened before, when the prince sought to change his fate, resulting in his kingdom's downfall and his transformation to Mor'du. Then she sees Mor'du and he attacks her until she barely escapes with Elinor's help and they flee back to the Ring of Stones. Merida realizes that Elinor will become like Mor'du forever unless she sews the tapestry back together to "mend the bond torn by pride" in hopes it will break the spell.
That night they sneak into the castle. Peeking into the Great Hall, they see Fergus and the lords behind barricades, hurling weapons at each other, on the brink of war. That is when Merida realizes that the kingdom will be torn apart if she doesn't set it right, and she tries to tell Elinor to stop them. But Elinor, in bear form, can't do any such thing, and it is up to Merida to stop this madness. Elinor, fearful of being seen and attacked, freezes into a stationary position while Merida walks into the room and tells them she was in conference with Elinor. The Lords demand to see the queen until Merida silences them all. She tells them of the story of the selfish prince who brought chaos to the land, and reminds them that legends are lessons and they ring with truths. The clans had been enemies until they were threatened by the Northern Invaders and joined forces to defend their lands. When they won the war, the clans made Fergus their king for bringing them together and made an alliance. Merida then admits that what she had done was selfish and must amend her mistake. She tells them that they should be free to follow their hearts and find their own love. The Lords' sons agree with this and confess to their fathers that they didn't want to fight over a girl who doesn't want any of it. So they all agree; but Merida notices a guard staring at Elinor's frozen pose and distracts everyone by telling them to got to the cellar to celebrate. When everyone is gone, Elinor is proud of her and they both head to the tapestry room.
As Merida is looking for thread and needles to mend the tapestry, Elinor turns wild again and attacks Merida. When Fergus enters the room she attacks him, and cuts Merida's arm. When Elinor snaps out of it, Merida tries to calm her, but her mother flees in horror as Merida tries to tell Fergus that the bear is Elinor, but Fergus refuses to listen. He locks her in the tapestry room for protection and gives the key to the old the servant Maudie while he and the Lords go after Elinor. Merida starts crying again and calls out until her brothers show up... but they, too, have been turned into bears for eating of the cursed cake. She tells them to get the key. They release Merida, and all four ride on Angus while Merida frantically sews up the tapestry. They follow a trail of will o' the wisps to where Elinor was captured. Merida fights Fergus to keep him from killing Elinor, until he is convinced when the three bear cubs help stop him, and he realizes they are his sons.
Suddenly Mor'du appears and attacks the soldiers and Fergus. Then he attempts to eat Merida until Elinor breaks free from the ropes. She saves Merida just in time and starts fighting Mor'du. After slamming Elinor into one of the stones, he turns to kill Merida, who is holding up a spear against him, until Elinor pulls him back and smashes him against a cracked menhir, which then crushes him to death. A wisp of something rising from his body reveals the image of the prince, who nods to them as if in acknowledgement and gratitude and then disappears. As the sun starts to come up, Merida realizes it is the second sunrise; she grabs the tapestry and throws it around Elinor, but realizes nothing's happening. Thinking she has failed, she tearfully hugs her mother. Merida sincerely apologizes for everything, admitting it is her fault, and tells her she loves her. Then the tapestry seals itself around her clumsy stitches. She feels a human hand touching her hair and realizes Elinor is human again. Fergus comes and hugs his wife and daughter and kisses Elinor. Merida reminds her she is naked under the tapestry and Fergus tells the lords not to look as the triplets, now human once again, come running naked and hugging their parents and sister.
Later, Merida and Elinor are sewing a new tapestry together of Merida and Elinor as a bear until they are called to the docks to say goodbye to the Lords. Then they both ride on their horses and journey around Scotland, their mother-daughter relationship and bond even stronger and closer now.
Currently, Merida is a very common character to meet and greet at the various Disney parks. In the Magic Kingdom, she can be found at Fairytale Garden in Fantasyland. At Disneyland Park, she meets guests near the It's a Small World attraction. She is also seen sometimes at the World Showcase in Epcot.
Merida received a few changes for the "deluxe princess" redesign. Her dress is brighter in color, is now off-the-shoulders, and was given glittery designs of celtic patterns and on her arms with a belt with a piece of a kilt with the pattern representing Clan DunBroch. Merida's thick curly reddish-orange hair is much smoother, for it was quite thick in her film.
There has, however, been controversy on her redesign from her creator, citing among other things, sexism.
Update to this controversy: In response to the petition on Change.org, with over 200,000 signatures, Disney says that this controversy had been "blown out of proportion" and that this redesign will be used for a "limited line of products" and as a "one-time stylized version" for Merida's coronation. Even though many are convinced that Disney has pulled Merida's redesign (because she appears like she does in her movie on the Disney Princess website), this is not true. The Disney Princess website was never updated with Merida's redesign, so, like Disney insisted, "you can't push back to something that was never changed to begin with."
Between May and October of 2013, Disney used Merida's Pixar appearance in marketing. In October, a new redesign of Merida, that was more in line with the public's wishes was released.
As of 2014, new redesign of Merida is used only in her 'personal' marketing, when she is alone in merchandise. In products where she is seen along with other princesses (also in all press releases, books and magazines) her old 'coronation'-redesign is used, to make her look more match to other princesses.
- She joined the Disney Princess line-up on May 11, 2013, making her the 11th Disney Princess in the franchise, and the first ever Disney Princess to not come from the Disney Animated Canon.
- In fact, she is the first whose film is not a musical, though two of the songs were sung by characters.
- She is the second Disney Princess with red hair (the first being Ariel from The Little Mermaid) and the third Disney Princess with blue eyes (the first two being Cinderella and Ariel).
- She is the 2nd computer-animated Disney Princess and the 2nd one with freckles, the first being Rapunzel, followed by Anna and Elsa.
- She is the second Disney Princess to have her film rated PG after Rapunzel from Tangled.
- She is the second princess to have biological siblings (Ariel being the first and Anna and Elsa being the third and fourth).
- Merida is the first (and currently the only) Disney Princess to have siblings of the opposite gender (three triplet brothers to be exact), since the other Disney Princesses have sisters, stepsisters, or are an only child.
- Merida is also the first Disney Princess to be the first born sibling, followed by Elsa being Anna's older sister.
- She is the fifth princess to have some form of a "rebellious princess syndrome". Ariel being the first, Jasmine being the second, Pocahontas being the third, and Rapunzel the fourth then Mulan being the sixth.
- She is the third princess to use a weapon (shortbow and arrows) in her feature film. Mulan being the first in using swords and fans, and Rapunzel being the second in using a frying pan (though a frying pan isn't a real weapon; she just uses it for one, making Merida the second to use an actual weapon).
- She is the second princess to be trained with a bow and arrow, Mulan being the first.
- She is the second princess to be raised by both of her biological parents for her entire current life, Mulan being the first.
- She is the only princess who isn't a Spell Card character in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.
- She is the third princess to wear a cape. Snow White being the first, Aurora being the second, and Anna and Elsa being the fourth and fifth.
- She is the fourth princess to have a horse companion. The others being Cinderella, Belle and Mulan.
- Merida is the fifth to be shown physically as a child in her feature film. Cinderella being the first, Aurora the second, Tiana the third, Rapunzel the fourth, Anna the sixth, and Elsa the seventh.
- She is the second princess to have a parent physically transformed, Ariel being the first.
- She is the second princess to be visibly wounded (gets cut on her right arm by Elinor as a bear). The first being Mulan (she was cut on her chest by Shan Yu).
- She is the first princess in a film in which the villain is defeated by a parent.
- She is the fifth Disney Princess in which she has to deal with an unwanted marriage as a major or minor source of conflict. Aurora is the first (in which she did not know the boy she met was Prince Phillip), Belle is the second (as she has to deal with Gaston's intent to marry her solely out of vanity and to fulfill societal norms), Jasmine is the third (in that her father is trying to marry her off before her next birthday), and Pocahontas is the fourth (in that her father is trying to marry her off to Kocoum). Hers is because, like with Jasmine, one of her parents wants to marry her off.
- She is the first to not have an American accent.
- Merida is the third princess with the least redesign update, the first being Tiana, second being Rapunzel.
- Merida is the first princess to not have a love interest, followed by Elsa.
- Merida is the second princess to stop her father from killing a loved one (her mother), the first being Pocahontas stopping her father from killing her love (John Smith), although Fergus did not know that the bear he was trying to kill was Elinor and thought that Elinor was already dead because of the bear.
- She, so far, is the only Disney Princess that lives in the earliest time period of any Disney Princess (the middle ages), unless one counts Hercules and the Arabian Night, in which case she is the one who lives in the second-earliest time period (second only to Jasmine, who according to that episode lived during the Hellenistic era).
- She is the first and so far only Disney Princess to neither originate from a fairy tale/literature work (Snow White; Aurora = Sleeping Beauty; Cinderella; Ariel = The Little Mermaid; Belle = Beauty and the Beast; Rapunzel; Anna and Elsa = The Snow Queen; Tiana = The Frog Prince; and Jasmine = the Aladdin story of 1001 Arabian Nights) nor based on a historical figure (Pocahontas and Mulan)
- She is one of many princesses to throw a hissy-fit when she gets mad.
- Tia Kratter, responsible for Merida's initial character design, has admitted that Merida was based on British model and actress Lily Cole and Brenda Chapman came up with the concept of Merida's character as a combination of one of her daughters and a friend.
- Merida is the third heroine/main protagonist to have a talent in a sport. Pocahontas being the first, since she is able to canoe down rapids, and Mulan being the second with martial arts.
- Reese Witherspoon was originally casted to voice Merida, but due to scheduling conflicts, she was replaced by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald.
- The setting location for Merida's story is the 5th specified after Belle (France), Pocahontas (Virginia, USA), Mulan (China) and Tiana (Louisiana, USA). Jasmine is the exception, since though the setting is of Middle Eastern influence and architecture, there is no country name ever mentioned for the location of the Agrabah Kingdom.
- Merida is the third Pixar Princess after Atta and Dot in 1998 from A Bug's Life. However, she is the first human Pixar Princess.
- Merida is the only Pixar Princess in the main Disney Princess franchise, and as such is technically the only Disney Princess to originate from a film not actually made by Disney.
- Merida is the second main character to have a talent for archery and compete in archery tournaments, the first being Robin Hood, but the third character to do so, the second being Mulan.
- Merida has more than 1500 individually sculpted, red strands that generate about 111,700 total hairs.
- If Merida's curls were straightened, her hair would be four feet long and reach the middle of her calf.
- With five dresses, plus a cloak, quiver, hand wrap and necklace, as well as torn dresses, Merida has a total of 22 different costumes. She also has five different hairstyles.
- Merida is the second Disney character to say to someone turned into a bear "I don't speak bear". The 1st being Tanana who says that to Kenai when he is a bear.
- Merida is one of the few human heroines to not be seen barefoot in any of her media, yet. She shares the likes of this with Snow White, Alice, Eilonwy, Belle, Anna and Elsa.
- Apparently, Merida and Young MacGuffin were going to be the "canon" couple, but then the film makers decided it would be better to leave her single. Should there is ever be a sequel to Brave, it is possible that a relationship might be explored.
- DunBroch is thought to be set near Glencoe, Scotland.
- Merida is the third main character of a Pixar film not to have a love interest, the first being Sulley, and the second being Remy.
- After her coronation into the Disney Princess line in May 11, 2013, she is the first princess to be devoid of a love interest, followed by Elsa.
- Merida is the fourth Disney Princess to choose to run away from home, the first being Snow White, second being Jasmine, third being Mulan, and fifth being Elsa. Ariel and Rapunzel didn't actually run away. They were taking an offer to leave home to fulfill their destinies (Flotsam and Jetsam to Ariel, and Flynn Rider to Rapunzel).
- Merida is the third Disney Princess to be locked in her bedroom by a parental figure, the first being Cinderella and the second being Rapunzel. However, in Merida's case Fergus did this to protect her, while Lady Tremaine did it to Cinderella to stop her from marrying the prince. Some suggest that Elsa could be the third, but her parents did not lock her in her bedroom, they made her stay in there for the majority of her childhood. Ariel also doesn't count as she and her sisters were only grounded/beached (in the 3rd film and in some episodes of the TV series) by King Triton, not locked up.
- Merida shares her interest in apples with Snow White.
- Merida's hair is softened in her 2D appearance.
- Merida will be the first Disney Princess to wield a weapon in merchandise.
- Merida is the first Disney Princess, since Pocahontas, to be raised as royalty. The others include Snow White, Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Anna and Elsa.
- Merida is the first flesh-and-blood Pixar meet-n-greet character in any of the Disney Parks.
- Merida is the first princess to debut in a redesigned costume rather than a plain design.
- Merida is the third princess with a controversial redesign, the first two being Pocahontas and Mulan.
- Merida is the first princess to come from an original story which is considered a fairy tale.
- Merida is currently the third Disney Princess without a sequel, with the first two being Snow White and Tiana. She is followed by Anna and Elsa.
- Merida is the first princess to not sing at all as a teenager, followed by Elsa. However, she did sing a song as a child with her mother, "Noble Maiden Faire", which is considered the film's main theme song.
- Her name means "honorable" in Gaelic.
- She is the first princess without a love interest, the second being Elsa.
- She is the first ,and so far the only Disney Princess made by Pixar.