As much as The Empress is in a lot of ways a maternal authority figure, The Emperor is supposed to symbolize a patriarchal authority. Now, there are many fathers in Disney Canon, but only one case in which the relationship between father and daughter as a major plot point. Hence my take on The Emperor ended up looking like this:
I felt that Triton was perfect to represent a strict but well-meaning ruler, whose beard hints at live experience and wisdom. I picked in this case a promo picture instead of one from the movie, because Triton’s gesture shows exactly the kind of strict but paternal authority I was going for. The swirls on top of the throne are reminiscent to the rams which adore the one in the original card.
I added the trident to replace the Ank and the orb as an ancient symbol of power and I kept the background empty, because in the original card, there are only barren mountains, and I felt an empty sea would work just as well. I think the end result expresses exactly powerful but reliable influence the card stands for. This is also Triton’s role in the movie itself, someone who will jump in for his daughter to protect from the consequences of her actions no matter what she has done.
But the reverse meaning of the card is also reflected Triton’s character arc. Depending on position and reading, the card can stand for a controlling influence becoming too restricting – like Triton does by trying to keep Ariel under the sea at all cost – but also for a lack of a stabilizing influence. It might sound strange to say that Triton is both too restrictive and too absent, but if you think about it, if he had supported Ariel, she would have never gone to Ursula in the first place.
Well, this card was actually pretty easy to put together for me. I had a clear picture of it in my mind from day one. The next one was more difficult, as you will see in one week.