Princess Elsa’s snowman creation, Olaf, is an important part of Frozen. Olaf symbolizes the setting of the story. Olaf symbolizes the sisters’ childhood, sense of innocence, and goodness. Olaf symbolizes optimism, cheer, and joy. And, Olaf symbolizes love. Olaf is no mere silly comic relief. He is an important part of the story and is full of symbolism.
The animated film Frozen is beloved by millions, at least, that is the number of times “Let It Go” has been played and replayed by children across the world. Parents tell me that is an undercount.
Olaf, the happy-go-lucky snowman, might not seem too important next to an ice princess. But he plays a major part in the film, and in the process has a lot of symbolism. Do you assume that Olaf is not important? Let it go! Read about him below. And, then decide!
Olaf’s Basic Bio
Princess Elsa of Arendelle (a Norway-like kingdom) has the power to control ice and snow. While a girl, she used the power to create a winter playground inside while playing with her younger sister Anna.
Olaf, a small snowman with a bucktooth (a piece of ice), who said “I’m Olaf, and I like warm hugs,” was part of the fun. Olaf’s childish and joyful personality comes out right away.
But, the icy fun put Anna at risk, ending Elsa’s happy childhood. Elsa later fled, believing it necessary to isolate herself to protect Anna. “Let It Go” takes place here. And, if you look closely shortly after the one minute mark, you can see that Elsa’s magic created Olaf again.
When the voice actor describes Olaf, he uses such words as child, pure, innocent, joy, hopeful, optimistic, and naive to describe him. Olaf often serves as comic relief, including his song where he dreams of summer, not knowing what would happen to him in the heat.
Olaf plays an important part in the plot of the film. Olaf not only helps Anna find Elsa, but later helps her escape from Hans’ clutches. A much bigger snowman, Marshmallow, was unable to protect Elsa’s ice palace from invaders. Elsa also helps Olaf to be able to experience summer.
In Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, Olaf helps to find out about all of the holiday traditions of the kingdom. Olaf’s popularity is such that he has cameos in non-Frozen stories, including Moana.
Olaf and the Setting
Frozen is based on “The Snow Queen,” a story by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen.
Olaf is an important means for Frozen to symbolize the setting. Olaf’s very name, names often important symbols, is important. St. Olaf is the patron saint of Norway. If you did not know that, the name still has a Scandinavian feel. The name alone sets a certain mood.
Olaf is a snowman. Again, he sets the mood of a story that takes place in a snowy kingdom. Olaf is created at key moments of the story, inside the palace walls during Anna and Elsa’s childhood, and in Elsa’s isolated ice kingdom. He symbolizes both places, connecting the two.
Olaf’s Childish Qualities
Olaf is a very popular character, in part because children find him very relatable.
Olaf is a child. He was created when Elsa and Anna were children before all the bad stuff started to happen. Olaf symbolizes their childhood innocence. He is quite the opposite of Cruella de Ville, for instance!
This innocence and goodness is still within them when the sisters are older. Olaf shows it has never totally gone away. Marshmallow, a scary snow monster, is not able to protect Elsa in the end. Olaf, however, plays an important role in Elsa and Anna’s victory.
Imagination and Magic
Olaf also symbolizes childhood imagination. Olaf is a creation of Elsa’s magic, but magic and imagination are often very connected.
Imagination is magical, including being safe from danger. Olaf is a snowman. He is protected from being hurt, parts of his body able to be painlessly rearranged or separated from Olaf without any harm happening to him. A powerless child would naturally find all of this appealing.
When Elsa is trapped in Frozen II, Olaf’s is threatened, since his very existence is based on Elsa’s power and imagination. Olaf is an important symbol of Elsa herself.
Olaf’s Optimism and Cheer
Olaf is a symbol of optimism, cheer, and joy.
Olaf’s childhood optimism includes some ignorance. Olaf dreams of summer, which is a curious thing for a snowman (Frosty the Snowman can tell you what happens when it gets warm.)
But, Olaf’s dreams — children are full of dreams that often seem so possible that they can be touched — turn out not to be so crazy after all. He even gets to experience summer.
Olaf is also a creature of fun, a source of comic relief. He provides a contrast to his much more somber creator. Olaf symbolizes having fun, including retaining a bit of childlike joy.
Olaf Symbolizes Love
Olaf in this moment shows a bit of childish wisdom. I was watching the Sound of Music recently and one of the young daughters also had an ability to simply see the truth.
Olaf’s wisdom regarding love is an appropriate example because he himself symbolizes love in multiple ways. Olaf is a creation of Elsa’s love, wanting to amuse her sister. Olaf helps Anna to save Elsa from her ice kingdom (prison). Olaf is a symbol of the sisters’ love for each other. And, Olaf is willing to sacrifice himself for Anna. He loves each one of them.
READ ABOUT THE SYMBOLISM OF OTHER BELOVED DISNEY CHARACTERS:
Snow has a certain magical quality. White powder falls from the sky, covering all things. White often symbolizes purity and innocence. It is a source of fun and maybe even a day off from school. And, maybe build a snowman. Mix in some magic, you get Frosty or maybe Olaf. Frosty, however, was an adult snowman. Olaf is more of a snowboy. Still quite important.