Man vs. Self is one of the most commonly used cinematic conflicts, and Disney has some of the greatest examples of Man vs. Self (or Person vs Self) in all of cinema!
In this Man vs. Self In Cinema Guide, we’ll dive into the best Disney films with Man vs. Self conflicts!
Questions We’ll Answer About Man Vs. Self In Disney Movies:
- What Is Man Vs. Self Conflict?
- What Are The Best Disney Films With Man Vs. Self Conflicts?
What Is Man Vs. Self Conflict?
Person vs. Self, or Man vs. Self, is a conflict in storytelling where, quite simply, a character faces themself.
However, it’s really not that easy. Sometimes, your ultimate enemy is yourself; we see this in movies where person vs. self conflicts take center stage.
These conflicts usually occur in the character’s mind—what goes on in their head, their struggle with their thoughts, self-doubts, worries, and fears. This is a crucial storytelling style where tension occurs from within, often holding a character back from their ultimate potential.
What Are The Best Disney Films With Man Vs. Self Conflict?
The films we’ll discuss below use the person vs. self as the main character’s primary source of conflict — including some of the most popular and iconic movies in Disney history!
THE LION KING
While the most visible conflict in The Lion King is Simba’s evil uncle, Scar, the most challenging battle Simba faces is actually himself.
Throughout the film, we see Simba struggling with his own internal battles, most notably his father’s death.
Simba blames himself for his father’s death, which grows into self-doubt, fear, and guilt that he must battle when asked to return to the “throne” and his home of Pride Rock to end Scar’s reign as king.
Simba suffers from an identity crisis and doesn’t believe he can or should be king, even though his friends and family desperately need him to reclaim the throne.
Without spoiling the rest of the film, the only one genuinely holding Simba back is himself, and once he learns from the past instead of suffering from it, the story takes a massive shift in Simba’s favor.
After The Lion King, Aladdin is Disney’s next most iconic example of Person vs. Self conflict in their films.
Aladdin mainly struggles with his self-worth and identity, especially after he meets Princess Jasmin and wants to impress her.
Aladdin is a commoner, if not a “street rat,” as he’s often referred to, far from someone a princess like Jasmine should be associated with. After acquiring the magic lamp and earning his three wishes from Genie, he wishes to become Prince Ali to make himself feel adequate enough for Jasmine.
This decision begins to evolve into an identity crisis as even though Aladdin now has Jasmine’s attention, he’s not himself and struggles with the decision of whether or not he should live a lie to continue his relationship with her.
As the film goes on, we see the consequences of Aladdin’s decision to become someone he’s not and how he must embrace who he is to save the kingdom of Agrabah and eventually mend his relationship with Jasmine.
Elsa is not only a beloved and wildly popular Disney Princess, but her struggles are also a classic example of Person vs Self conflict in film.
Elsa has the ability to manipulate ice and snow, and after an incident where she nearly kills her sister Anna after striking her with a spell, Elsa falls into self-isolation and fear.
Elsa lives in constant fear of losing self-control and harming someone with her powers, going as far as isolating herself from Anna for years to ensure she never hurts her sister again. This fear of her powers lingers into her adult life when we see that as her 21st birthday approaches, she must be crowned queen, and she still fears what will happen if the kingdom discovers her powers.
After her coronation, Elsa accidentally unleashes her powers, and her worst fears come true – she’s branded a monster and flees into exile, believing she’s not fit to live amongst the rest of the world.
Elsa must grapple with her own fears and worries to truly master her powers and eventually return to Arendale to save the kingdom, which has been plagued by an eternal winter.
In Ratatouille, Remy has a major internal struggle between his dreams of being a chef and his identity as a rat.
It’s pretty clear that Remy is a rat, and rats aren’t exactly welcomed in kitchens, even in the world of Ratatouille.
Even when Remy finally gets his chance in the kitchen, he constantly doubts his own abilities as a chef and often thinks he should give up his dreams of being and return to rats’ simple and scavenger lifestyle. Feeding this flame of doubt are his fellow rats who think Remy is out of his mind chasing these dreams of working in a kitchen.
It’s not until Remy finally lets go of his self-doubt that he can truly succeed as a chef.
Learn More About Conflict Styles Seen In Movies!
Ultimate Guide To Person vs. Person Conflict In Film
Person vs. Self Conflict In Film | 10 Best Examples
Ultimate Guide To Person vs. Fate/God In Cinema
Person vs. Nature In Film | 10 Best Examples
Ultimate Guide To Person vs. Technology Conflict In Film
Person vs. Supernatural Conflict In Film | 10 Greatest Examples
All photos are used courtesy of and are the copyright, of The Walt Disney Company.