If you follow me on Facebook or are friends with me in real life, I’ve probably subjected you to my Frozen rant: Even if Hans really is the bad guy (which is a topic for another time), Elsa’s parents bear so much responsibility for the dysfunction that leads to the events of the first film. Elsa could control her powers, Agnarr. She doesn’t need to be isolated, she needs to be encouraged! I could go on, but…
Turns out, Agnarr was probably knee-deep in some deconstruction of his own.
When King Agnarr and Queen Iduna come to tuck in the small princesses at the opening of Frozen II, the girls are acting out a snowy make-believe adventure. Elsa effortlessly conjures new ice figures to act out their story, and Agnarr smiles and participates in the conversation. He is quite obviously comfortable with Elsa’s powers and makes no effort to stop them from playing. We come to learn during his troubling bedtime story that, in fact, he had visited the mysterious northern forest in his youth and was enchanted (pun intended, I said what I said) by the elemental magic he encountered there.
So how do we get from there to the opening of the first Frozen?
“This is getting out of hand.”
“Until then, we’ll close the gates…”
“Conceal it, don’t feel it. Don’t let it show.”
The reason for deconstruction
Turns out that Agnarr has done some deconstruction of his own. Meet King Runeard.
Once in the depths of Ahtohallan, Elsa discovers that the “peace” between Arendelle and Northuldra was anything but. In fact, King Runeard (Agnarr’s father) hates magic and, as a result, the Northuldra. So he set up the Northuldra and murdered their chief when he started asking questions, which set off the battle that angered the spirits and resulted in Runeard’s death.
“Magic makes people feel too powerful, too entitled. It makes them think they can defy the will of a king.”King Runeard, Frozen II
We don’t find out whether Agnarr learned the truth about his father, but he very likely knew how his father felt about magic. Children, as they say in another of my favorites, will listen. Agnarr, to his credit, consciously believed otherwise and was kind and accepting of his daughter’s gift.
Runeard’s distrust of magic, however, likely lay dormant in his mind until Elsa accidentally struck Anna. Tense, anxious, and afraid for his daughter’s life, it’s possible (probable) that those threads began to wind around his heart. In the high emotion of the situation, Agnarr succumbed to the unconscious temptation to control and suppress magic…and, perhaps, the belief that as king he could do nothing else. He didn’t love Elsa any less — he died trying to find the source of her gift — but the patterns that shape us have a power of their own.
Parenting during deconstruction
Most of us don’t have to worry about magical powers in our own deconstruction. My deconstruction challenge is yelling at my children, yelling even though I know it diminishes my children and isn’t actually effective. I, too, love my children and would go to the ends of the earth for them; but I, too, am struggling with deeply entrenched principles and practices that will take significantly more pulling before they dislodge.
So…King Agnarr and Queen Iduna are still responsible for the damage their choices inflicted on both Elsa and Anna. But we can extend compassion and solidarity to them as co-warriors in a battle against the dysfunction we all inherit. So too can we offer that compassion and solidarity to one another in the real world…and, most importantly, to ourselves.