The three good fairies are completely benign and agreeable, but they don’t seem nearly powerful enough to stop Maleficent or save the Princess, a fact that produces much of the movie’s suspense. They worry constantly about the Princess’s welfare; they bounce pleasantly when they walk; and their tiny wings, when in motion, resemble little clapping hands. Even in flight, the fairies perpetually perform gestures of affirmation. These elderly and safe female characters behave in ways that make them appear vaguely British. For example, they make a point of having tea, and they insist on politeness. Their quaintness increases when they swirl themselves into butterfly-size balls of light to avoid detection. Disney’s animators drew the fairies in such a way as to seem thoroughly unthreatening. Even tiny Merryweather’s feistiness plays comically, not seriously, since her impish impulsiveness never actually achieves anything. Whenever they need to, the other two fairies easily hold her back.

The names and two-toned colored dresses (warm/cool) of the fairies further suggest the nature of their characters. Flora refers to either the Roman Goddess of Flowers or any general plant life, and her pink dress may remind us of a fragrant blooming rose. Fauna, in green, similarly refers to either the Roman Goddess of Animals or any general animal life. Her color may remind us of the lush healthy forest, free open spaces, and clear, crisp air. Merryweather’s name can be broken down into just what it sounds like—good weather, which translates into positive omens. The happy spells of the fairies always rhyme. Though they occasionally bicker good-naturedly, they’re selfless when it counts. True happiness comes to them only if true happiness comes to the princess.