Is ‘Happily Ever After’ Always A Happy Ending?

Blogged Bliss May 31, 2023

"Shrek Forever After" which was released on 21st May 2010 is the fourth and final chapter of the Shrek franchise based on William Steig’s picture book “Shrek”. It is an animated comedy-drama produced by DreamWorks Animation.

In my opinion, this is one of the best-animated love stories of all time. Usually, fairy tales go according to a theory that includes an unrealistic perfect man, a true love’s kiss, an innocent girl who’s most probably a hopeless romantic, and a weird nemesis; most of the time it’s a witch. Though it is referred to as a true love’s kiss, in most of the stories it’s just a kiss from a prince who is ideal for the girl about whom the fairy tale is about. It doesn’t matter whether they share a special connection or not, fairy tales tend to label true love as something impeccable which can only be felt by two ideal people for each other. Weirdly, I think this theory should be even slightly responsible for the attitude of today’s teenagers toward love since it was them whose childhoods were ruled by these tales. Shrek deviated from this theory in the first movie itself by introducing an ogre into the equation. It was an interesting detour since it wasn’t too good to be true, unlike almost all the other fairy tales we had heard of. This contrast was pointed out even by the fairy godmother in the second movie.

Life doesn’t always bless us with what you call ‘happily ever after’s. The more intriguing part is what happens next. In this movie, we get to see the unspoken truth behind settling down. When people domesticate themselves for the wrong reasons, it exhausts them and fills them with anger, anxiety and dissatisfaction over time. Though they settle down with a partner they initially loved, if they don’t have a clear idea in their heads as to why they did so, there’s a possibility for them to end up like Shrek.

With time Shrek started to feel like a joke and kept missing the time when people were afraid of him. So Shrek signs a magical contract with Rumpelstiltskin in order to become an ogre for a day by giving up the life where he had everything. Since not realizing what we have until it’s gone is a common mistake people tend to do all the time, the emotions of Shrek appear more and more realistic and highly relatable here. Taking our partner, friends, parents, and everything else around us for granted can make us feel overwhelmed, angry, and sometimes even selfish. This contract takes us to an alternate reality where Shrek was never born resulting in the tone of the movie getting even darker. Since no one knows Shrek in this world, he has to do everything all over again, including getting to know Fiona. Though the solution to all these problems is a true love’s kiss as always, the contract wasn’t nullified although Shrek and Fiona kiss in the middle of the movie. It was because even though Shrek is her true love, Fiona wasn’t in love with him by the time they kissed. This scene single-handedly made the Shrek franchise stand out from all other fairy tale nonsense once and for all!

In my point of view, this taught us the true meaning of soul mates. There’s nothing to do with the genders here. Gender is off-topic. The real scenario is just the fact that soul mates complete each other. Though they might be fully capable of surviving in this world alone, they won’t be able to live as happily and freely when they are together. It’s not always just the princess who is being rescued from the dragon’s keep. Shrek was also being rescued from that dark, unhappy, filthy world by his true love. Shrek finally learned to domesticate himself for the only right reason there ever will be for any living being, which is love. When you do this, life may sometimes surprise you by taking the idea of domestication being a burden away from our brains and our hearts forever. At the very end of the movie, Shrek concludes on behalf of all of us “I always thought it was me who rescued you from the dragon’s keep, but it was you who rescued me”.


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