In Disney’s Frozen, Elsa is captured by Prince Hans and wakes up in a prison cell in the basement of the castle.
What is unusual about this prison cell is that it has clearly been custom-built to contain Elsa herself. The shackles are gauntlets that cover her entire hands and prevent her from using her powers. There is no access to water for her to freeze and the chains stop just short of the window and the lake outside.
But where did this prison cell come from?
One answer might be that Hans witnessed Elsa’s powers at the coronation, watched Anna ride off to find her sister and immediately leapt in to action. While managing a kingdom in panic, endearing himself to the people of Arendelle with blankets and provisions and dealing with an equally conspiring Duke, he covertly (but quickly) commissioned a prison to withhold powers he had only witnessed once (on the off-chance someone might spontaneously suggest a search party to go capture Elsa and that search party actually managed to do it).
In this case the prison could be the invention of a particularly motivated prince, or even – whisper it – a plot-hole (I mean, it wouldn’t be the only plot-hole in Frozen) but what if there is a darker explanation here?
Elsa’s prison was built by a member of her own family
In The Frozen Theory I discuss how seemingly prepared Elsa’s father is for dealing with her powers (possibly because he is also aware of the trouble magic powers caused his niece).
He is the one who explains to Elsa how ‘the gloves will help’ and teaches her to control her magic by keeping it secret and under-wraps.
But what if this wasn’t his only solution?
He clearly cares for his daughter and tries to help her as a loving father would, but he’s also the king of Arendelle and has been warned by the trolls about a dangerous power that threatens the people in his kingdom.
If Plan A was to teach his daughter how to manage her powers herself, what was Plan B?
What if Elsa’s father built a prison to hold his own daughter?
It’s possible… but I don’t love this theory.
The great tragedy in Frozen is that Elsa had caring parents ready to guide her through all her differences in life, but she’s suddenly to handle it all alone when they disappear in an ill-fated voyage (that possibly ends up with them leaving another child all alone in Africa).
You see, aside from Elsa’s parents, one other member of the family witnessed the trolls’ warning…
Elsa built the prison for herself
This is the explanation that makes sense. Elsa’s entire narrative is fear of her own powers and the danger she might inflict on others.
She locks herself away in her room, she banishes herself to the mountains. She is clearly someone who puts the safety and well-being of others above her own freedom.
Elsa never acknowledges her powers or allows herself to learn what she is capable of because she’s afraid of what that might be.
What if Elsa was afraid of her powers getting so great that even she couldn’t control them? Wouldn’t she need a contingency plan?
This is why Elsa doesn’t appear to be confused when she wakes up in the prison cell. She doesn’t attempt to break the chains or use he powers to escape. She knows the chains will hold her because she designed them to.
Which is how Hans uses Elsa’s own prison against her
Prince Hans’ genius is that he manages to imprison Elsa while still appearing to be the good guy. As Elsa explains she is ‘a danger to Arendelle’ she even holds up her own shackles to him to demonstrate this. She’s decided Arendelle is safer with her far away from it that with her locked away in the castle.
Prince Hans uses Elsa’s prison to hold her and her own fear of her powers to keep her there, he uses his charm with the common people to ingratiate himself as their new prince, and he uses Anna’s loneliness and need for connection to exploit her (and he would have got away with it too if he hadn’t felt the need to explain his evil plan in classic villain fashion).
It’s almost like
Frozen‘s Prince Hans Is A World-Hopping Evil Genius Who Uses The Fabric Of The Disneyverse To His Advantage