ringmaster dumbo

Analyzing the Disney Villains: The Ringmaster (Dumbo)

Origin: Dumbo (1941)

I didn’t think I could do an entry for Dumbo. Then I read that he’s a villain in Disney’s Villain Revenge, so that means I gotta evaluate him, I guess. Who knew? I’d have thought it’d be the red-haired bully. I still can’t watch the movie without wanting to shove a broomstick up his ass.

Motivation: A bruised ego. The existence of a big-eared elephant makes his circus go wonky. He can’t show Dumbo in the elephant’s tent — that causes too much trouble. So he’s not only down one elephant, but two. Got to make money off this somehow, so he uses Dumbo as a living maguffin in the clown’s fireman gags. I guess it says something about freaks being diminished in acting roles.

Character Strengths: I got nothing. He doesn’t even show up at the end. This is really the protagonist’s story. But maybe his biggest strength is mending his ways. A lot of Disney villains never get that far. For at the end, he sees the talent that Dumbo has, and gives him his deserved fame, plus a personalized railcar.

Evilness: Minimal. The guy is just trying to make it in show business. He doesn’t have an evil streak, as far as I can see. He’s just stern and bossy.  You can’t really blame him for imprisoning his mother. Dumbo’s lucky he didn’t have her euthanized.

Where is his hand going?

Tools: He’s got a whip.  And an assortment of alcoholic clowns (although props for them being enthusiastic about their jobs). But at least the clowns have aspirations of putting on a good show. These days they’d be portrayed as working stiffs doing the least to get by.

Complement to the Hero: Does Dumbo even know there’s a ringmaster? Does he know what that is? I’m not entirely sure Dumbo is sentient. He needs a mouse to do his talking for him.

Fatal Flaw: I don’t know. He doesn’t really serve as an obstacle to the hero’s triumph.  It’s Dumbo’s confidence in himself (combined with a unique ability) that makes him win out. It was nothing the ringmaster did.

Method of Defeat/Death: After Dumbo learns to fly without his magic feather, he terrorizes the circus clowns, giving them PTSD. They’ll never be able to go to the zoo again. (Usually it’s the other way around, with clowns sending people into therapy.) Dumbo buzzes the ringmaster, sending him into a washtub with an elephant-clown face on his butt. I’ve seen more dignified Disney deaths, but not many.

Final Rating: One star

Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog)
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Willie the Giant (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
Hades (Hercules)
The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)
Jafar (Aladdin)
Shan Yu (Mulan)
Man (Bambi)
Clayton (Tarzan)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Cobra Bubbles (Lilo and Stitch)
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians)
Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound)
Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Scar (The Lion King)
Prince John (Robin Hood)
Edgar (The Aristocats)
Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.