Transformation as a Key Element in Once Upon a Time

The illustration of how good conquers evil has long been a central issue of American fictional literature, poetry, art, and even cinematography. In the television show entitled Once Upon a Time, evil is depicted as a circumstance experienced by protagonists rather than their character traits that cannot be changed. From the beginning of the television series, it becomes evident that the lines of good and evil are not as clear as they are usually portrayed in original fairy tales. The movie shows how characters change from being hostile and evil and become generous and kind individuals. Once Upon a Time aims to show the audience how people can move toward evil and away from it. The analysis of the characters shows that Regina who appears as Evil Queen and Mr. Gold as Rumpelstiltskin transform from anti-heroes into heroes by accepting love in their lives. Their transformation is evident both visually and emotionally.

Once Upon a Time shows the way of how characters transform their identity by presenting their qualities and values before the change. The transformation is the most apparent in the protagonist of the show, Regina also known as Evil Queen. In real life, Regina is an adoptive mother of Henry Mills. Evil Queen puts her curse on Storybrooke, where she lives as a single mother Regina Mills. Filled with anger for Snow White since a tragic event that happened years ago, Evil Queen makes choices as her primary mission to destroy the good. She has a curse, which ensures that there will not be any happy endings. Queen claims, “Soon everything you love will be taken from you” because “your suffering will rise my victory”. Snow destroyed Regina’s happiness; as a result, Regina wants to do the same to her: she wants revenge. 


Visual evidence also demonstrates the protagonist’s evil nature. Evil Queen as an embodiment of evil communicates the dark side of her nature by wearing dark clothes and heavy makeup. Before the curse is enacted, Regina with a smile on her face wears a pale blue jacket and soft makeup. As the curse begins to act, she gradually darkens her clothing while her smile disappears. The protagonist is full of vengeance. There was not any person whom she cannot destroy if he or she tries to stand in the way of what she wants, especially when it comes to her son. Of all the characters in the show, Evil Queen is one of the most symbolic. Her setting including her home, office as well as a secret part of her mausoleum is also black and white. The environment symbolizes the character’s conflict with the surrounding world.

However, once the curse is broken, Evil Queen finds herself in a vulnerable state.  The woman tries to win back Henry’s love, which helps her transform from a villain into a hero. Since that time, the audience sees how Regina grows and changes her perception of world. She begins to understand the value of people who surround her. Evil Queen’s transformation into a hero is also the result of true love. Her life changes as it includes happiness not from committing revenge to her enemies but experiencing true love with a man called Robin Hood. With each episode, the audience may notice how Regina’s life story progresses towards happiness by moving far away from evil. Regina also changes due to becoming a selfless and nurturing mother to her son, Henry.

The visual evidence of the television show also proves the growth of character’s good nature. Regina shows that she has a good nature by wearing light clothes and soft makeup. Such elements as facial expressions, postures, as well as body language emphasize the fact that the woman moves away from evil. These verbal and visual cues show that the character changes. In his article, Jones states “Female power is not more problematic than male power, as is suggested by these tales of a threatening queen who must be destroyed”. The author means that women can change themselves. However, they require help to reach a full transformation of their identity. The former enemies help Regina change. As a result, they become her family and friends.  

Evil Queen’s significance in the television series is also consistent. In the first season, the audience may see that the woman is the primary antagonist. The second part illustrates her as one of the main characters as she attempts to redeem herself while the third one uses the example of Regina to show how villains can change their predetermined fairytale fates. Therefore, Regina’s transformation from a villain into a hero is a central issue of Once Upon a Time. The show destroys the typical representation of Evil Queen in fairy tales as it illustrates the woman as a person who has a background, an identity, as well as a family.

Another character that undergoes a substantial transformation in Once Upon a Time is Mr. Gold who is also known as Rumpelstiltskin. At the beginning of the show, the spectators see that Rumpelstiltskin is a person who is haunted by his father’s dishonesty, abandonment, as well as lack of caring. As he wants to escape his father’s reputation, the character becomes a coward and a dark personality who creates a curse that might help to find his son. The audience perceives him as an anti-hero whose motivation is only self-preservation, revenge, as well as self-interest. To reach his aim, the character manipulates and twists Regina into Evil Queen because only she can enact the terrible curse, which might lead him to his son.

However, gradually, Rumpelstiltskin changes and moves away from evil but toward good. He transforms from an anti-hero to a hero. While being an anti-character, Rumpelstiltskin is a dark and misunderstood person. Nevertheless, the viewers may notice that there is still good in him. His good nature is evident in the episodes when he decides to sacrifice himself to stop Pan’s actions and save Neal and Belle from torturous deaths. While facing the enemy without any magic, the man finds the courage and saves not only those individuals whom he loved but also all citizens of the town. In these scenes, it is apparent that the character further changes. Love helps him to transform into a generous person. Visual evidence also proves that Rumpelstiltskin has undergone significant change. Instead of black and purple smoke, the audience may see how bright light shines around him. As a result, the character’s transformation from a villain into a hero is evident both visually and emotionally. 

Taking into consideration the findings of the study, one may conclude that Once Upon a Time illustrates the transformation path of such characters as Regina and Rumpelstiltskin. Their change from anti-heroes into heroes is the result of the direct acceptance of love and understanding in their lives. The audience may see that the characters transform the both visually and emotionally. The first series of Once Upon a Time portrays both Regina and Rumpelstiltskin as villains while the later ones depict their steady growth of their identities, as well as change of their visual appearance. As a result, Once Upon a Time serves as an example of movies that focus on the transformation of characters rather than the depiction of their evil nature. 

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Mar 31, 2020 in Film Review Essay Samples