Set in the Scottish Highlands during the 10th century, Brave is the story of Merida, daughter of King Fergus of Clan DunBroch. Merida’s mother wants her to be a proper lady and marry one of her father’s allies, while Merida wants to shoot her bow and ride her horse. She wants her freedom.
While running away from the three firstborn sons who’ve come to compete in Highland games for her hand, Merida ends up in a Stonehenge-like stone circle. A path of will-o’-the-wisps appears, and Merida chases after them. They lead her to a witch’s cabin.
Merida promises to buy all the witch’s carvings, plus give her a silver necklace in exchange for one thing—a spell to change her mother. “I want a spell to change my mum,” Merida says. “That will change my fate.”
Merida blames her mother for all that appears to be wrong with her life, but doesn’t give her mother any credit for the good things she has.
After Merida’s mother eats the magical cake and turns into a bear, Merida refuses to take responsibility.
“It’s not my fault!” she exclaims. “I didn’t ask her to change you into a bear. I just wanted her to change…you.”
Merida blames the witch for changing her mother in the same way that she blamed her mother for the things she didn’t like about her life. Merida and her mother return to the witch’s cabin, but the witch is gone. She left a message for Merida, though, telling her to “mend the bond torn by pride” before the second sunrise if she wants her mother to change back.
Merida thinks this means the tapestry she sliced with a sword earlier in the movie. She manages to sew up the tapestry and throw it over her mother just in time.
But it doesn’t work.
Her mother doesn’t change back until Merida apologizes. What Merida finally realizes is that the freedom to choose her own path also comes with the necessity of taking responsibility for her actions.
Our past, our families, the things that happen to us through our lives influence us, but in the end, the responsibility for how we live is ours.
Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.” – Albert Einstein
It’s not only in the big things where we love to shove responsibility onto someone else.
When we get a speeding ticket and blame the police officer, wasn’t it actually our fault for speeding in the first place?
When we forget to do something our spouse asked us to, and blame them because they didn’t remind us, wasn’t it actually our fault for not paying better attention?
Failure to take responsibility holds us back the same way it held back Merida from having a good relationship with her mother. Until we can accept responsibility for our shortcomings and failures, we can’t fix them.
When do you find it most difficult to take responsibility? Is it in the big things…or the little ones? Do you think it’s human nature to put the responsibility on others rather than accepting it for ourselves?