Tarzan is actually not a Disney film that I loved upon first viewing. As a young fan of the Disney Princesses, it was rather strange for me to watch a film set in the jungle, and about a man who had been brought up by a gorilla. However, many viewings later (thanks to my cousin, who loved this movie), I found myself strangely fascinated and surprisingly hooked.
It’s interesting now to think about the romance between Tarzan and Jane. It’s one of the most unlikely Disney pairings I’ve ever encountered, but that’s probably why I think it’s worth reflecting on.
While Tarzan may look like a grown man, he acts more like a gorilla (plus he only wears a loin cloth). This should come as no surprise because he grew up in the jungle, under the care of one of the gorillas. He is friends with the jungle dwellers, very physical and able to traverse the jungle on instinct, and obviously has no idea what proper English society would expect from a man. He also has no language at the start, except the grunts and gestures of the gorillas.
Jane, on the other hand, is a proper English miss. She’s grown up in proper society, and her life is dictated by customs, rules and the language she knows. Her loyalty to her father is the reason she ends up on this trip; that, and her natural curious, inquisitive nature. She’s a bit adventurous, and definitely intelligent, but it’s clear that she’s a typical well-bred young woman.
On a surface level, it looks like any sort of relationship between these two would be impossible. But as an idealist and a believer of romance, I do think that Tarzan and Jane could work out in the real world.
Don’t speak; I know what you’re saying – While talking is certainly important, there’s a lot to be said for unspoken words. When they first meet, they start communicating through gestures and motions, and find a rhythm where they can communicate. While they do eventually communicate with words, the fact that non-verbal communication is part of their relationship is so significant.
Your world is my world – Tarzan and Jane know that they’re different from each other. With that in mind, they each make an effort to get to know the other’s world. Jane does her best to learn about the gorillas, while Tarzan makes it a point to learn about English society. They don’t allow their differences to keep them apart; rather, they take the differences as an opportunity to expand their worlds.
Considering everything they’ve been through, and the maturity that they show in their relationship, Tarzan and Jane could be the real deal. They would be ready to face the challenges life throws at them, no matter what they are. The fact that these two very different people have a chance at making their relationship work gives me hope for happy endings – in movies and in real life.
(Disclaimer: All Disney’s Tarzan images are property of The Walt Disney Company. I do not own them.)