Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Into Disney, where I over-analyse each animated Disney film over the course of a year.
Now my blogs this year tend to come in two flavours: The thematic analysis discussing a theme or idea found within the overall movie (those being your ‘Why Mickey Mouse Sucks As A Character ‘ or ‘The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad, Or How Faithful Should Adaptations Be)’. Starting with a big theme and narrowing down. Then you have the reverse, where I just analyse individual scenes and characters and what they represent (those being your ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ or ‘What Is Fantasia Actually About’). Why do I bring this up?
Well mostly since this film is one of those that’s a bit hard to put in one category or the other. Truth be told there’s very little to over-analyse in this film, it’s rather blunt and on the nose. It’s all about social class. She’s a Lady, he’s a Tramp. So whilst this will be the former ‘thematic analysis’ I’m gonna start off the bat that this isn’t an analysis of subtext, but straight text.
We have cocker spaniel named Lady, giving to a wife by his man one Christmas morning. Now forgive the diversion, but I need to do some maths quickly. If she was given to Darling at Christmas 1909 and was six months after the time-skip, this places it in or around June. But then we later find the baby boy is due to be born in April 1910, meaning the earliest she could get pregnant is August 1909. She then has the baby, it grows up, and the film ends at the next Christmas which we’ll presume is one year later (since there’s no word to the contrary and it’s doubtful for old Trusty to be in a cast for more than a few months). So either a)the film takes place over two years instead of one (which would explain the odd time-skips) or b)the writer’s just can’t do good maths (and as a writer I’m gonna lean toward the former). So it does seem a bit inconsistent when it comes to the time frame taking place. But then again since it’s taken from the point of view of a dog, that may be intentional.
Anyway Lady learns what a baby is from Tramp, who warns her it’s nothing but trouble. Now we see Tramp enter the posh area and comment on its fanciness, along with how much he dislikes it. He prefers to live free rather than chained down to an owner. But why? Is Tramp right for wanting to be a free dog, or is his paranoia unjustified. We never get a clear answer in the movie over WHY he chose to be free, so one could easily theorize that he was born on the streets and left to fend for himself. However it’s just as likely that he ran away from an abusive home and thus has a distrust for humans. But judging that he knows what a baby is and thinks of them as nothing but trouble, it’s likely that it’s the latter that is true. Anyway he is soon shooed off and the baby is born.
But we’ve already got very clear parallels about class. Both sides think the other side is terrible. Tramp hates the idea of being confined and forced into complacency. Meanwhile Scottie and Trusty hate the vagabond nature of the Tramp. Over the course of the film both sides of the class barrier are presented with their pros and cons, leaving the viewer to chose which side has it better.
Anyway Aunt Sarah visits and muzzles Lady after her Siamese Cats wreck the place up. Again the Siamese Cats show the bad side of acrostics. They’re spoiled and rotten. They destructive and somewhat unsympathetic. Their snobbish nature symbolizes all the bad things we think when we think of the high class. Hence the point of the characters. Likewise when Lady is being scared by the dogs they symbolize everything bad about the lower class. This nice yin yang nature showing both the good and bad sides of class is something that Disney rarely explores in its films.
Anyway with the Tramp rescuing the Lady he shows her her side of life which, once again, shows both the good and bad sides to their way of life. It’s here we meet my favourite Disney characters, Tony and Joe. In other words the two Italian homosexual couple. And come on, they’re clearly in a loving relationship, why does no one ever bring these two up when they’re talking about homosexuality in Disney? But yes, I love these guys because, in just one little scene, you know all you need to know about them. They’re hopeless romantics, they’re nice guys, they bicker a bit. But the fact that they gave a stray dog and his lady friend a proper dinner for the sake of love is really quite nice. A lot of people compliment the scene, but no one ever thanks Tony and Joe for making it all happen.
Anyway after a lovely night Lady is taken to the pound and sees a dog taking ‘The Last Walk’ and damn Disney, that’s pretty dark as a concept. What’s darker is how the dogs just accept that he’s dead and that happens. It really is quite depressing. Anyway Lady gets rescued and gets locked in the backyard, before suddenly a rat attacks.
Now if Lady was good high class, Tramp good low class, the Siamese Cats bad high class and some of the dogs bad low class, then the rat is the very lowest class there is, a criminal. And with that abuse of the English grammar let me elaborate briefly. The rat is often been a symbol for bad immoral behaviour, so this film is no differently. The rat is evil, criminals are evil, lets move on to the end.
Finally the film ends with Tramp entering high class and being a productive member of society. But does that mean high class is ultimately the best way of living? Well it is nice to be rich, there’s no denying that. But is Tramp truly happy with giving up his wandering ways? I mean as horrible as it was, there were some upsides. Still, the purpose of the film is to let the viewer decide which side is the best.
So there you have it. A rather crap look at Lady and the Tramp. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.