Shrek is a supposedly scary ogre who delights in frightening people with his roar, insulting them with his belligerent Scottish-accented insults, and repelling them with his stench. He’s not malicious, just an antisocial guy who prefers quiet and solitude. But as he is the first to admit, ogres are like onions, with many layers. Not even he realizes at first that he not only secretly yearns for companionship and love, but is worthy of them as well. (Indeed, it takes him four movies to acknowledge this about himself.) He’s flummoxed by the enthusiastic, unconditional friendship of Donkey, and he can’t imagine himself as heroic or chivalrous, despite his rescue of Princess Fiona.
The great joke of the budding Shrek-Fiona romance isn’t that she’s secretly a part-time ogre, it’s that he can see past her beautiful exterior to fall in love with the inner monster that is her true self. The real villains in the Shrek saga turn out to be not the monsters but the seemingly normal and attractive people like Lord Farquaad (say his name fast) and Prince Charming, who turn out to be totalitarians at heart. Still, in the land of Far, Far Away, even kings turn out to be monsters and misfits. Nobody need feel like a freak in a world where everyone is a little freaky.
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