Well here we go, the second part of the critical essay, and following this, is my creative piece.
Beauty and the Beast part two, aka my Character assassination of a Disney Princess
Picking up exactly where I left off
Chapter two, The Beast is in a state of arrested development
Within this text, he is now the protagonist, and Belle until the end is regulated to the side-lines akin to Fairytale and Feminism p21, “woman, strive to “repossess” femininity and resurrect “maternal authority” in a world that allows children to mature.
By child, I am referring to the Beast, who if the prequel, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas is taken as canon to the story, the Beast was ten or eleven when he was cursed as the flashback to his youth and transformation suggest.
With this in mind, as I explain further on. Belle’s presence is allowing the Beast to mature, but into the man she desires him to be. She may have sacrificed her life to save her father, yet as a guest in the Castle, she appears happy to manipulative the situation to her advantage.
The servants have their own agenda, and are pleased to engage Belle, and above all give her what she wants. Their entire future depends on keeping her happy, and they will do everything they can to manipulative this to their advantage, from giving the Beast advice, albeit the wrong kind at how to attract Belle, to cleaning up the Castle in Human Again, an abandoned song from the theatrical release, but animated and restored for the DVD release, juxtaposed with the servants, is Belle and Beast bonding over literature, namely Romeo and Juliet.
But with the focus on the servants, in pivotal scenes like this, and “Be our Guest” Deconstructing Disney P52-53, suggests that the performed routine (both song and service) has been well rehearsed…with Lumiere as Maurice Chevalier, the song runs through national stereotypes and culturally received images of France’ and being hospitable as their rank and employment states they have to be, their job is to make Belle comfortable,
Belle as a character, does appear to trust to Beast, is her that initiates the dance, it is Belle who allows the Beast to place her hands on her body and, Belle due to her fascination with fairy tales is living her very own fairy-tale. Casting back to her original introduction song “Belle”, within these lyrics are her description of her favourite part, which occurs on two occasions.
Belle upon being given the book
Well, it’s my favourite!
Far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise –
At the town centre to the village children
Here’s where she meets Prince Charming
But she won’t discover that it’s him ’til chapter three!
In Reading Ourselves: Towards a feminist theory of reading, p489 Ibid. For a woman, then books do not necessary spell salvation. In fact, a literary education may well cause her grave psychic damage: schizophrenia ‘is the bizarre but logical conclusion of our education”. When comparing this statement to Belle, and the villager’s reaction to her as being “odd” and “strange”, and we are meant to disagree with this declaration since Belle, up to this point is the protagonist.
With this in mind, even though Belle is, I am not suggesting suffering from mental illness. She does, however, wish to live in a fantasy world, in a Castle, and with the help of the servants who become her enablers.
The Beast gave her the library out of genuine kindness, to pay her back for restoring his humanity. However, Belle, even though she did stand up to the Beast after he was injured by the wolves, which did even out the status quo between the two, is now beginning to transform him, into the type of man she wants to be.
Belle’s arrival in the West Wing exposed the Beast and gave him the catalyst to change and to come to terms with who he is, as he lets Belle go, through the symbolic touching of her hair. He’s the one who’s matured and grown up as he recognises his mistake in seeing her as his redemption, and he has fallen in love with her.
However, Belle, from this point on more problematic,
The saving of her father and the second rejection of her wannabe suitor Gaston forces the issue of what choice Belle must make, but at the same time she is ignorant of her own presence, of making the Beast regain his humanity.
This line of dialogue makes this more visible.
Maurice: But the beast. How did you escape?
Belle: I didn’t escape, Papa. He let me go.
Maurice: That horrible beast?
Belle: But he’s different, now. He’s changed somehow.
This one line, presents the choice, Belle must make, and that would mean recognising her own femininity and inner strength. And admit the effect she had on the Beast, which would mean admitting falling in love with him, and breaking her own fairy-tale, and finally mature into an adult.
As a character, Belle does possess feminist traits, more suited to the modern day, then the eighteenth century, however, what differentiate her from being considered a feminist character, is due to her entitlement and inability to make choices for herself.
Everything she does, she is forced into, usually due to actions of a male within the story, be it her own father, Gaston or the Beast.
In a way, Belle is a feminist character, since she knows who she is, but never recognised her faults, never acknowledges her femininity, though she is aware of her attractiveness, yet sees it as a hindrance. Since that is all the villagers, apparently see.
Belle is given the opportunity to live in a fairy castle world that she feels she already knows, and readily accepts the world around her, being Enchanted. Yet never is once seen to question the reason why. Even if the glimpse of the Prince in his portrait in the West Wing, should have made her ask questions.
Expecting her father to be safe at home, not lost in the woods, reminded her of his existence, since after he is taken this is the first time she mentions him aside from her initial shock of losing him because she expects him to be at home.
Yes, she leaves the Castle, but the Beast makes the decision, even the actions of Chip, and the anthrophonic ten-year-old teacup, would have forced her to return to the Castle, even if Gaston and the mob hadn’t shown up. In effect, every real choice is taken away from her, but one. And that is her acknowledgment of her love for the Beast while the last petal falls from the Enchanted Rose.
Post-transformation, Belle who wanted “adventure in the great wide somewhere” now has to face up to the reality of her situation.
Belle is now a Princess and all that this entails, and now has to accept responsibility for her actions, which does require putting aside her dreams and learning what it is to run a Kingdom.
And this is where Belle’s ‘foreigner” status as mentioned earlier, is the more thought provoking when considered her entitled nature.
Belle’s, actions change the people around her, yet she truly learns nothing, and even in the Castle continues to look down on the people around her, since their job is to serve, and she is happy to dictate to them.
She may be the catalyst for change, and consider herself educated, yet, in reality, this enlightened Princess, is no different from Gaston, and only exists to bring the Beast out of the shadows.
However, this film, winner of two Academy Awards, and what really established Disney’s renaissance, confirms that is truly, a “Tale as old as Time.”
The End of the critical work, the creative original work will be up in a few days