Day 145: Maleficent – Pride and Regret

This blog-post is a continuation to:

Day 141: Pride - The Root of All Sin?
Day 142: Pride and Perfection
Day 143: Pride – Prize versus Hide
Day 144: It doesn't matter what you say, I already decided I won't listen to you

Maleficent is the name of the evil fairy in Sleeping Beauty and also the name of the new Disney movie where this classic fairy tale is told from Maleficent’s point of view. Without going into a debate about whether it’s a good movie or not or whether it is cool or not that the story was told from the villain’s point of view – I found the movie depicting the point of Pride quite nicely so will use it as a reference from that perspective.

In the story, Maleficent starts out as an ‘innocent’ fairy. She’s revered by the other creatures in her domain for her large wings, her expression, her devotion. At some point, she is ‘betrayed’ by a friend, a human, that she had trusted with access to ‘fairyland’ to call it that – I don’t recall the exact terms. In any case, her human friend cuts off her wings to bring them to his dying king so that he may ascend to the throne after the king’s death. When she realized the ‘betrayal’, she decided to take revenge and destroy what is most precious to him – his daughter.

In that moment, it seemed like the right thing to do – she felt justified in her decision of avenging her loss and betrayal. As the child grows up on the country-side under the stewardship of the ‘three good fairies’ – Maleficent keeps an eye on her and on occasion steps in to make sure the child is not harmed. As the child grows older, her and Maleficent start to develop a relationship – the child thinking/believing that Maleficent is her fairy godmother. It becomes clear how Maleficent starts to see the child in a different light – no longer just ‘the most precious possession of my enemy and therefore my target for destruction’ – but a child in her own right, with her own expression, her own life. More and more you can see the doubt in Maleficent in terms of the decision she had made and the curse she had placed on the girl, Sleeping Beauty. But she wipes away the doubt and the regret, because ‘she made that decision and in that moment, she felt so right and righteous about it, she cannot, she won’t, reconsider it. Then of course, she will only admit her mistake when it is too late and the curse takes effect.

Another way in which the prideful character is so nicely depicted in Maleficent is her total disregard for everything and everyone around her. Whereas she used to care and nurture, she starts to poison and harm – in the movie, she literally casts a ‘dark cloud’ over her land and ‘sucks the joy’ out of everything around her. The only thing on her mind is her revenge, her path, her point of view – nothing else matters – everything can be sacrificed for her self-interest. And anyone who tries to point it out to her is shut down.

Oh, how far we are willing to go to protect our self-interest. Would it not be easier to admit the mistake? To take a step back and see the consequences one is busy creating, for oneself and for everyone else involved? To see that: okay, I am experiencing some very strong emotions here and I reaaaaaallly want to stick with my point of view – but that is all it is: my point of view – am I really choosing the optimum path here? Is this really a solution? Whom does this benefit, whom does this harm?

In the movie, of course, all magically ends well, but we all know how, in real life, when our mistakes catch up with us, we don’t just get a ‘happily ever after’ handed to us – the consequences are already created and now have to be faced and walked through. Is our pride really worth it? Superimposing an experience over reality, superimposing ourselves over others – to what end? To eventually have to realize the same thing: 'crap, I made a mistake'.