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Tearjerker / A Frozen Heart

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  • While what Hans does in Frozen is morally wrong, the Tie-In Novel gives an explanation why he ends up being a messed-up person that's heartrending. He often gets the short end of the stick in his family, as his father usually dismisses him for being too ineffectual. Note that much of his backstory also borders on Adult Fear, Nightmare Fuel, and Paranoia Fuel as well:
    • For starters, during the family gathering, some of his brothers toss food and glassware just for daydreaming, while his father chides him for being a weakling and showing up late. Plus, one of the scenes shows Hans blatantly Self Harming by running his fingers along the rough wood of an old table, but finding the physical pain to be oddly better than the constant abuse his family heaps on him. It's also heavily implied he's a self-harmer.
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    • Most of Hans' fantasies about his father always involve the king taking him out to hunting, valuing his input during political meetings, naming him heir to the kingdom, and most of all, recognizing him as The Dutiful Son. However, those fantasies always end with Hans realizing he'll always be the invisible "throwaway" who's of no use.
    • By the time he's a young adult, Hans not only suffers from clinical depression, PTSD, and possible Self-Harm, he believes that the abuse is normal. His father encourages his brothers' abuse and frequently compares them to him via repeated Disappointed in You and Where Did We Go Wrong? tirades. When Hans attempts not to rise to his brothers' bait, the king declares that Hans should "learn a thing or two" from his brothers and "stop acting like he's better than them." From his father's perspective, Hans will always be second best compared to his older sons, and this slowly causes Hans to develop an obsessive need to prove himself worthy to his family and be recognized as The Dutiful Son by becoming the king's gofer. As he grows up, the repeated abuse slowly corrupts Hans to the point he accepts his family's mindset, hardening his heart to the point of thinking Love Is a Weakness that's easily exploitable, but it also leaves him incapable of reciprocating love when Anna asks him for a True Love's Kiss.
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    • When Hans makes Self-Deprecating Humor on his lowly status in the familial pecking order with Lars, only Lars knows the reality behind Hans' deadpan jokes. Hans even speculates that the king plans to have him become a monk for the Brotherhood of the Isles instead of marrying him off. Also as time passed by, it's implied that Lars and Hans became increasingly distant with each other after the latter decides to become the king's gofer.
    • At times, Hans acknowledges that he's the odd one out in his large family. While mentioning to Anna that three of his brothers ignored him for two years, it's clear he refuses to let go of the massive grudge he holds against them. The closest to support he has are Lars and his mother, but neither of them are close enough to help him get through life. Also, when he notices how Arendelle's citizens become deeply concerned with their missing queen and princess after Anna's horse returns without its owner, he briefly wonders if his family would care rescuing him if he were stuck in a similar situation.
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    • His thoughts after being ordered to do the king's dirtiest tasks imply he secretly hates his job and despises his father for his wanton violence. But he also fears the repercussions of ignoring the king's orders, including the prospect of losing his father's respect and his brothers making harsh jabs about him "not having the guts to do anything." Also, after spending time being the king's errand boy, Hans is finally allowed to attend Elsa's coronation and secure a trade deal, and it seems he has won his father's trust, but then, the king immediately tells him to come back home soon so that Hans can babysit his brothers' children. This shows that no matter what Hans did for him, his father only barely trusts him and still severely restricts his freedom. Hans is also clearly terrified of his family's wrath as he's being deported back, having been denied an opportunity to explain his actions.
    • The way his actions pan out indicate that Hans perceives himself as a loser with a massive inferiority complex. He has low self-esteem, and he never seeks or receives any emotional help from outsiders to help him cope with the enormous stress his family put him through. Also, as he's being deported at the end of the novelization, he's baffled to see that while the sisters have reconciled with one another despite years of separation, neither he nor his brothers won't have any opportunity to get along with each other, as their father perceives such actions to be signs of weakness.
    • The ending. Once the kind of man Anna or Elsa would have probably accepted, Hans turned into a cruel and desperate man like his father and most of his brothers. And after his crimes, he's sent back to them be judged and sentenced.
    • Except for Lars, most of Hans' brothers are pricks who take sadistic joy in punishing him in whatever methods they can, ranging from pranks to downright physical abuse. For example:
      • He's lost countless fistfights and shouting matches, been thrown off moving carts, and repeatedly shoved in the mud numerous times despite trying multiple times to find a peaceful way out and pleading with his brothers to stop the abuse.
      • Three of his brothers pretended he was invisible for two straight years.
      • Hans believed it when he received a phony "ransom note" from a certain "King Gotya" who will "release" one of his brothers, but only if he ran around the entire castle three times in just his underwear. He was only four years old at the time.
      • He even fell for the "there's a special present for you in that oddly scary room down in the catacombs" prank.
      • At one point, he even woke up with ink all over his face after one of his brothers dipped his hands in an inkpot while he slept.
      • Hans hates family and diplomatic gatherings, as he often ends up being the laughing stock by his brothers. For example, he's nervous attending his mother's birthday, and as such, he stands outside the door for 20 minutes. His father scolds him for being late, while his brothers throw objects at him just for daydreaming, and make harsh jabs about being a Momma's Boy when he shows up late.
    • Hans is a darker counterpart to Anna, Kristoff and Elsa:
      • With Anna: used to being friendless and feeling inadequate, but grows up to be a self-centered, pessimistic and cold person who sees all love as weaknesses, and thinks competition makes them more successful. Sadly, he never gets to reconcile with his own family, and remains friendless at the end of the movie.
      • With Elsa: someone who avoids forming relationships and emotional bonds, but doesn't fear causing harm to others, and gets zero support from others to help with their issues. Because of this, he sees all kinds of love as weakness.
      • With Kristoff: in contrast to Kristoff, he grew up in a human family that never cared for him, causing him to become ruthless and care only about power. Kristoff has the warm love of family that Anna needs (and gets after she and Elsa are able to be together), while Hans has the cold family relationship that Anna doesn't want.
    • From how he's shown in the novel, the thing that keeps Hans from the goals he seeks isn't anyone, but Hans himself. He could've easily found happiness by getting close with Anna or Elsa, or by pursuing a different interest altogether, but his desperation to win his father's approval in hopes of making his life better undermines everything he worked so hard for. His desire to earn his family's respect drives him to make choices which make things worse, and as a result, he ends back to square one and is now hated in and out of the Southern Isles.
  • Hans' older brothers are also darker versions of Elsa as well, in that they shut out their siblings, but have no chance to reconcile with each other as their father abhors such actions. As with Hans, they accept causing harm to others and refuse to get outside help to cope with their issues.
  • The queen of the Southern Isles. Her husband is an emotionally abusive sociopath who brainwashes most of their sons into being his devoted enforcers, while she is forced to watch them torment each other to fit their father's standards. It's implied she wants to stop the abuse, but is unable to do anything and gives small smiles to Hans as he's mocked and ridiculed his whole life.
    • During the queen's birthday, the king even makes a rude jab about Hans's status as a Momma's Boy, stating that the queen "will be the only one who would have even noticed that [he was] missing." Also, after he is hit in the head with an object, Rudi and Runo tease Hans, asking if he's going to "run to mommy" so that she can "kiss his boo-boo to make it all better." Based on this, it's implied that when Hans was younger, his mother was The Confidant for him, but as he grew older and more knowledgeable of his brothers' tactics, he distanced himself from her, knowing that his father and brothers would only mock him even more for running to her when in need.
  • Caleb blatantly ignores his pregnant wife in favor of seeking his father's attention.
  • Noting how Caleb's pregnant wife is uncomfortable with him ignoring her, how Lars' wife Helga hates living in the Isles, and how his mother has been used to being ignored, Hans notes that most of his own family is absolutely miserable with each other. Most of the 13 sons do not get along with each other, and the women of the household even cope with their abusive spouses by drinking wine.
  • Hans hopes that his third oldest brother Lars will get along with his pregnant wife Helga, who blames her own family for shipping her off to the Isles. Lars doubts their baby will make them get along and thinks Helga would want to keep the child to herself.
  • Hans' human family serves as a foil to both the Arendellian royal family and Kristoff's adoptive troll family. While the other two families are misguided and inappropriate respectively when it comes to raising their children, ultimately, both families are genuinely loving and caring to each other. However, the Westergaards are highly dysfunctional and the 13 brothers try to out-compete each other with violence and harsh mocking, and use dubious means to obtain their father's respect. Hans' thoughts regarding his brothers indicate that he even planned to rub his achievements in his family's faces.

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