Mamma Mia’s Donna Sheridan is the perfect inspirational icon for girls and women around the world. With the original 2008 film, and then the 2018 sequel, these films are beloved by many as cheesy musicals with positive messages and a healthy dose of Abba. Donna Sheridan provides many lessons in both of these films, as both an adult (in Mamma Mia) and a young adult (in Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again). Here are some of the things that we can learn from Donna Sheridan.
1. Female Sexual Freedom
The overriding plot point of Mamma Mia, and the focus of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, is the relationships of Donna Sheridan. She has a daughter, Sophie, but doesn’t know who the father is, with three possibilities. Donna is never shamed for this though, by anyone, and especially not by Bill, Sam, and Harry, who become best friends and agree to co-father Sophie.
The power of friendship is demonstrated in Mamma Mia through Donna and her friends, Tanya and Rosie (a.k.a Donna and the Dynamos). They are great friends who support each other through all their ventures, from University onwards. Support systems are so important and Donna and the Dynamos everlasting friendship is beautiful and definitely something to aspire to.
Donna travels Europe alone, moves to a Greek Island alone, and raises a daughter alone. She builds up a hotel on the Island, and maintains significant friendships with all those who have supported her. She is known by those around her to be strong and brave, and is admired and loved by all those who know her for her free spirit and independent attitude.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again sees Donna graduate from University and make the decision to travel. She’s restless to see the world and this is both relatable and inspiring, as she takes the steps to travel alone, seeing so many things and meeting so many people.
“The best things in life. The very best things happen unexpectedly.”
“Life is short and the world is wide. I wanna make some memories.”
The song ‘I Have a Dream’ demonstrates Donna’s ability to find the good in everything. She faces so many trials in her life, from an absent mother, to eventually raising her daughter alone, but maintains her position as a positive role model. She envisions the fate of the old farmhouse, as she imagines it becoming a beautiful hotel, something completed by Sophie after Donna’s death.
“I have a dream
A song to sing
That helps me cope
If you see the wonder
Of a fairy tale
You can take the future
Even if you fail
I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I’ll cross the stream
I have a dream
I have a dream
To help me through reality
And my destination
Makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness
Still another mile”
These lyrics sung my young Donna demonstrate her ability to think positively and see a bright future for herself, even if things don’t always go the way she plans.
6. Have Fun
Another important lesson that Donna teaches us is that growing up doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun. She dances, parties, and sings with her friends, and nothing can stop her. She demonstrates this free and fun-seeking spirit from youth and instills its message in her daughter and all those around her. She brings light and life to everything she does, and inspires others to live as she does.
Mamma Mia is a heartwarming and important story in inspiring us as viewers to live life to the fullest and to seek the positive in all things. If Donna has inspired you to change the way you live let us know in the comments below.
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Alexandra Smith is majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Creative Writing. In her free time, she enjoys running, hanging out with family friends, and roaming the world with her camera in hand.