Merida is the first official Disney Princess from a Pixar film and the Main Female Protagonist of Brave. She is
a 16-year old tomboy. She is the eleventh official Disney Princess.
Princess Merida is the headstrong and free-spirited 16-year old tomboyish, willful daughter of Queen Elinor who rules the kingdom alongside her husband, King Fergus. Queen Elinor's expectations of her daughter cause Merida to see Elinor as being distant while also causing friction between the two. Despite Elinor's desire to see Merida as a proper royal lady, Merida is an impetuous girl who wants to take control of her own destiny. Merida has honed her skill in archery, and is one of the most skilled archers ever seen. She is also skilled in sword-fighting and racing across the countryside on her horse, Angus. Despite her outgoing, forceful, headstrong and willful personality, Merida does have a playful softness of heart; particularly when it comes to her younger triplet brothers.
Merida is a very brave, bold, daring, courageous, stubborn, rebellious and headstrong girl who does not fit the stereotypical princess role. Rather than being a damsel in distress who is subservient to the customs, traditions, and social restrictions her society places on her and expects her to follow, Merida openly rebels and defies her heritage as a princess and would like for nothing more than to be a normal girl. She is very athletic and enjoys nothing more than riding her horse Angus and practicing her archery, of which she is the best in the kingdom. She also seems to be skilled in sword fighting, as shown in the Brave featurette "Cutting the Class". She tends to be ungraceful and has bad manners, and is extremely tomboyish.
In terms of personality, she greatly parallels and resembles her father, as the two both tend to be unruly, impulsive and loud. However, she also does resemble her mother in terms of stubbornness and inability to listen to others.
When Merida was younger, she was a very small, cute little child and had a close relationship with both her mother and her father. She showed a curious side as she followed the wisps, despite needing to go back to the trail and seemed to believe in the legends and myths of her kingdom, highlighting her innocence and naivety. She also tended to be playful, as shown by her playing hide and seek with her mother and being very hyperactive. She is also shown to have developed an interest in archery early on her childhood, possibly by influence from her father.
As she has grown up, Merida is still very energetic and free spirited, but has a more strained relationship with her mother (though she still holds the same good relationship with her father) and is more rebellious. This is because she views the strict training and social etiquette that her mother teaches her as tedious and bothersome. She also thinks her mother places too much expectation on her to become the same type of person she is without listening to what she wants to be, which is true since her mother continually and strictly instructed her in how to be a "proper" princess, and arranged for the three clans to present the three clans' next heirs as potential fiances for Merida without her consent while neglecting Merida's feelings.
However, Merida also hardly ever understands her mother's feelings about wanting to do what she believed would be best for Merida or properly conveying her feelings and understanding how her desire for freedom and rebelliousness could potentially and negatively affect the kingdom. Over the course of the film, however, after Merida rebonds with her mother (in bear form) while they catch fish to eat at a river bank and realizes all the trouble she has caused with her reckless actions, she proceeds to make amends and (with help from her mother) creates a diplomatic solution that allows everyone to be happy and for her to have a better understanding of the importance of her mother's role and wisdom while teaching her mother to learn to listen and understand her better.
She is also shown to be very adventurous and brave, as she enjoys wandering around the forests that surround her kingdom and even climbed the Crone's Tooth and drank from the fire falls, something her father has mentioned that only the bravest kings have done. She was also willing to defend her mother from her father after her father tried to kill her (as she was in her bear form and he mistakenly believed that she in her bear form killed Elinor) and again when she shot arrows at Mor'du to protect him from attacking her father.
Unfortunately, Merida is very short tempered and impulsive, causing her to do things without considering the consequences her actions can lead to. For example, she wanted her parents to call off the gathering for the three clans allied with the DunBroch despite the fact it could possibly lead to war. She also entered the games that would determine who would be her bride so she could "shoot for her own hand". However, she was unaware that this would lead to a disagreement between the three clans and DunBroch clan until after she returns to the castle with her mother after going to the witch's cottage in an attempt to find a way to reverse the curse that turned Elinor into the bear. This was also shown when she bought a spell from a witch to "change her mother" without realizing the potential harm the spell could do to her or what would happen to her. It is through seeing the consequences of her actions that she goes to appreciate the role her mother plays as diplomat, especially when (due to Elinor being a bear) Merida had to act as the diplomat and settle matters herself. This also helps to mend the distance between her and Elinor.
Merida can also be slightly selfish, as shown when after feeding her mother the cake that contained the spell that would "change her mother", she ignored her mother's pain and groaning and consistently bombarded her with questions of whether she had changed her mind about the engagement, and also when she wanted to call off the gathering, despite seemingly knowing it might cause trouble as she mentions "we expect your declarations of war in the morning". However, Merida can understand when she is in the wrong and will do her best to fix what has happened.
Despite her impulsiveness and short tempered nature, Merida can keep a calm head in a dangerous situation, as shown when she managed to calm her mother after her mother nearly attacked and ran frantically after the wisps and when she settled the dispute between the three different clans. She is also very quick witted, as she quickly managed to bargain the witch for a spell by offering to give her her necklace in exchange for all of the wood carvings and one spell and when she realized she could enter herself in the games as she was "the first born of the four clans" and could therefore win her own hand in marriage, along with understanding that Mor'du the bear was actually the prince from the legends who led his kingdom into war between him and his brothers due to his selfish desire and lust for power.
Merida is kind and caring to those she really cares about and who are very close to her, as shown through her interaction with her family, particularly her brothers (whom she dotes on). She is also shown to care for her horse, Angus, greatly, as she personally tends and cares for him and doesn't let anyone else do it for her. Merida has grown throughout the course of the film from a stubborn, rebellious, and defiant person to a more understanding, open minded individual but remaining brave, courageous, kind, adventurous, free spirited, compassionate, and loyal to those she loves the most. The next article includes spoilers so don't read if you haven't watched Brave yet.
Merida found the Will o' the Wisps after she had a fight with her mother, Queen Elinor. From the Ancient Circle of Stone, she followed the wisps to the Witch's Cottage, where she was given a potion that could change her mother's mind about Merida's marriage. After drinking the potion, her mother changed into a bear, and at the sunrise of the third day, Elinor would be a bear forever: unless Merida mended their broken family bond. Merida encountered Mor'du, the ancient bear that had similar past as her own. Through Mor'du's story, she saved her mother from the curse.
Merida is first seen as a child playing hide-and-seek with her mother Queen Elinor on her sixth birthday. Then she sees her father's bow on the table and asks him if she can shoot an arrow with it. Fergus, her father, presents her with her own bow as a birthday present. She accidentally shoots her 6th arrow into the forest and goes to retrieve it, but is distracted by a trail of Will O' the Wisps that appear before her. The Wisps lead her out of the forest and back to her parents. Elinor tells her that the wisps lead you to your fate, but Fergus doesn't believe it. Suddenly, Mor'du attacks, and Elinor and Merida flee while Fergus stays behind to fight the demonic bear.
Years later, Merida is a teenager that Queen Elinor is trying to make her into a proper princess of royalty despite Merida's objection. One day when there are no lessons, she goes riding on her horse Angus. She shoots arrows at targets she sets up in the forest, and just explores. She even climbs the Crone's Tooth and drinks from the Fire Falls in joy. Merida returns home to join her family for dinner. As she enters, Merida listens to Fergus telling her triplet brothers the story of his battle with Mor'du until she interrupts and tells them that their father lost his left leg in the battle, and Mor'du is waiting his chance of revenge. Moments later, Elinor tells Merida that the three Lords are coming to present their suitors to compete for her hand in marriage. Not wanting any of this, Merida angrily storms out of the Great Hall to her bedroom.
As she is takes out her anger and frustration on her bedposts by striking with her sword, Elinor enters telling her the story of a beloved king who had divided his kingdom for each of his four sons to rule, but the eldest wanted to rule the entire land and so brought chaos and war, and his desire to follow his own path led to the downfall of the kingdom. Merida still refuses to listen, but Elinor is adamant and tells Merida to go through with it even if she doesn't want it for the good of the kingdom. Moments later, Merida is seen in Angus's stall talking to Angus of what she would say to her mother about her wishes if she would listen. Merida is determined she will not marry whoever wins the games.
Days later, the Lords arrive in DunBroch. Elinor prepares Merida in a tight formal dress and they all gather in the Great Hall for the presentation of the suitors. Each of the Lords present their sons. Merida is not pleased with any of them. A brawl breaks out, at which Elinor is disgusted and Merida is displeased. Elinor proclaims that only the firstborn of the great leaders may compete in the games which gives Merida an idea of how to get out of the marriage: she declares that she chooses archery for the Highland Games.
When the competition begins, Merida sneaks her bow and arrows behind her throne. As the suitors shoot at the targets, she chats with Fergus about each of them until Wee Dingwall wins by accident, striking a bulls-eye. She sneaks off and appears on the field, declaring she will shoot for her own hand. Ignoring Elinor's protests, she strikes the bulls-eye of the first two suitors' targets. When she shoots an arrow through the full length of Wee Dingwall's arrow and through the target, she smiles... until she sees her furious mother. Elinor drags and throws Merida into the tapestry room as they have a heated argument with each other about Merida's actions, with Elinor calling her a child and Merida calling her a beast for trying to ruin her life. Merida then throws a huge tantrum and slices the family tapestry between the pictures of herself and Elinor in a fit of rage, and Elinor throws Merida's bow into the fire out of anger. Merida tearfully runs away from the castle as Elinor quickly fishes the bow from the fire, feeling horribly guilty and she too begins to cry.
Merida is weeping as she rides Angus heedlessly through the forest until they come across the Ring of Stones and a trail of will o' the wisps leading them to a woodcarver's cottage. Noticing a broom that sweeps by itself and a talking crow, Merida discovers that this old woodcarver is actually a witch, and asks for a spell. The witch tells her to get out, threatening her with floating knives, until Merida offers to buy all her carvings with her pendant in exchange for a spell that will change her fate. The witch begrudgingly gives in and conjures up a cursed cake, which she says that she did for a prince who had wanted the strength of ten men and got what he wanted. Merida takes the cake and heads back to DunBroch.
She sneaks back into the kitchen to making the cake presentable, as Elinor enters the room, relieved to find her daughter home. Merida gives her the cake on a false peace offering and Elinor eats a piece, then suddenly starts feeling sick. Merida escorts Elinor to her chambers and puts her in bed. Suddenly Elinor starts transforming into a bear. Merida is horrified at the spell's effect and with her brothers' help gets Elinor out of the castle. They journey back to the Witch's cottage but they find her gone. Then they find the witch's cauldron with a ghostly image of the Witch in the potion-controlled automated voice message telling Merida that she has until the second sunrise to break the spell or her mother will remain a bear forever. The Witch tells Merida the way to do it was to remember the riddle "Fate be changed, look inside, mend the bond torn by pride." Baffled, Merida accidentally sabotages the cottage, so Merida and Elinor take shelter in the remains of the cottage for the night. Merida has a dream about a memory of her as a child with Elinor as they are both are singing "Noble Maiden Fair (A Mhaighdean Bhan Uasal)" together.
The next morning, Elinor brings some berries and water for breakfast. Merida explains that the berries are poisonous nightshade berries and the water has worms in it. They go to a creek, where Merida teaches her mother to catch fish, and they both start bonding. Then Elinor heads into the forest and Merida follows her; but Elinor is not herself, and starts attacking her daughter until she returns to herself. Merida is confused until they see a trail of will o' the wisps and follow them to the ruins of a castle. Merida falls through the floor into a throne room and realizes it was the kingdom from the story Elinor was telling her about.
Merida sees a stone with three figures and a split stone with the fourth figure and realizes that the curse has happened before, when the prince sought to change his fate, resulting in his kingdom's downfall and his transformation to Mor'du. Then she sees Mor'du and he attacks her until she barely escapes with Elinor's help and they flee back to the Ring of Stones. Merida realizes that Elinor will become like Mor'du forever unless she sews the tapestry back together to "mend the bond torn by pride" in hopes it will break the transformation spell.
That night they sneak into the castle. Peeking into the Great Hall, they see Fergus and the lords behind barricades, hurling weapons at each other, on the brink of war. That is when Merida realizes that the kingdom will be torn apart if she doesn't set it right, and she tries to tell Elinor to stop them. But Elinor, in bear form, can't do any such thing, and it is up to Merida to stop this madness. Elinor, fearful of being seen and attacked, freezes into a stationary position while Merida walks into the room and tells them she was in conference with Elinor. The Lords demand to see the queen until Merida silences them all. She tells them of the story of the selfish prince who brought chaos to the land, and reminds them that legends are lessons and they ring with truths. The clans had been enemies until they were threatened by the Northern Invaders and joined forces to defend their lands.
When they won the war, the clans made Fergus their king for bringing them together and made an alliance. Merida then admits that what she had done was selfish and must amend her mistake. She tells them that they should be free to follow their hearts and find their own love. The Lords' sons agree with this and confess to their fathers that they didn't want to fight over a girl who doesn't want any of it. So they all agree; but Merida notices a guard staring at Elinor's frozen pose and distracts everyone by telling them to got to the cellar to celebrate. When everyone is gone, Elinor is proud of her and they both head to the tapestry room.
As Merida is looking for thread and needles to mend the tapestry, Elinor turns wild again and attacks Merida. When Fergus enters the room she attacks him, and cuts Merida's arm. When Elinor snaps out of it, Merida tries to calm her, but her mother flees in horror as Merida tries to tell Fergus that the bear is Elinor, but Fergus refuses to listen. He locks her in the tapestry room for protection and gives the key to the servant Maudie while he and the Lords go after Elinor. Merida starts crying again and calls out until her brothers show up... but they, too, have been turned into bears for eating of the cursed cake. She tells them to get the key. They release Merida, and all four ride on Angus while Merida frantically sews up the tapestry. They follow a trail of will o' the wisps to where Elinor was captured. Merida fights Fergus to keep him from killing Elinor, until he is convinced when the three bear cubs help stop him, and he realizes they are his sons.
Suddenly Mor'du appears and attacks the soldiers and Fergus. Then he attempts to eat Merida until Elinor breaks free from the ropes. She saves Merida just in time and starts fighting Mor'du. After slamming Elinor into one of the stones, he turns to kill Merida, who is holding up a spear against him, until Elinor pulls him back and smashes him against a cracked menhir, which then crushes him to death. A wisp of something rising from his body reveals the image of the prince, who nods to them as if in acknowledgement and gratitude and then disappears. As the sun starts to come up, Merida realizes it is the second sunrise; she grabs the tapestry and throws it around Elinor, but realizes that nothing is happening, much to her shock and sadness. Thinking she has failed, she tearfully hugs her mother. Merida sincerely apologizes for everything, admitting it is her fault, and tells her she loves her. Then the tapestry seals itself around her clumsy stitches. She feels a human hand touching her hair and realizes Elinor is human again. Fergus comes and hugs his wife and daughter and kisses Elinor.
Merida reminds her she is naked under the tapestry and Fergus tells the lords not to look as the triplets, now human once again, come running naked and hugging their parents and elder sister. Later, Merida and Elinor are sewing a new tapestry together of Merida and Elinor as a bear until they are called to the docks to say goodbye to the Lords. Then they both ride on their horses and journey around Scotland, their mother-daughter relationship and bond even stronger and closer now.