We Are Both: Governing in Once Upon a Time
by Teresa Martin--@Teresa__Martin
From the opening scene in the pilot of Once Upon a Time those who have spent way too much time taking political science courses were impressed by the differing systems of governing presented. Prince Charming wakes up Snow White, the Queen. Except when Regina comes into the wedding, someone calls her the Queen. Snow replies that she’s not a Queen, she’s a witch! Before somebody can start quoting Monty Python, the scene changes to modern times and the ex-Queen Regina is a mayor. Ah. The political science geeks are going: “so it’s a monarchy in the Enchanted Forest and a representative democracy in Storybrooke.” While there may be a good many people shushing the government geeks saying, “you’re the only one who cares!” a closer look at the shenanigans of our fearless leaders in Once Upon a Time depend a great deal upon what form of government and rule to which they ascribe.
Of the many definitions of governing in Merriam-Webster, the one that is most reflective in the context of Once Upon a Time is “the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions and which is usually classified according to the distribution of power within it.” Key words within this include “organization, political unit, authority, and distribution of power.” In the Enchanted Forest the governing model is the monarchy. A monarchy is the form of government in which there is “. . . undivided rule or absolute sovereignty by a single person . . . a government having a hereditary chief of state with life tenure and powers varying from nominal to absolute (Merriam-Webster).” Snow White as Queen holds the highest rank and rule, having apparently reached that status when she merged her father’s and George’s kingdoms through conquest. Charming’s status as a prince implies that his power is not equal to his wife’s. While it appears there are other kingdoms, such as King Midas’, the main authority is vested in Snow White. Therefore the hierarchy in the Enchanted Forest’s monarchy could be as shown:
Explore the Arthurian legend surrounding Lancelot, take a trip into the woods to discover the mythology behind Red Riding Hood or learn more about a modern day hero called Snow White. Origins provides unique insights and perspectives from talented writers into the characters we know and love, going far beyond the boundaries of Storybrooke.