Beauty and the Beast
The Place I Call Home Essay
By definition, a candle is a cylinder of block or wax or tallow with a central wick that is used to produce light as it burns. However, the symbolic definition of a candle is a production of light in darkness; it symbolizes life being produced when there is darkness all around. In both Beauty and the Beast and “The Masque of the Red Death,” candles symbolize life and death, and the tones and moods of these stories are affected by showing when and how life is present or not present during the most critical moments in the stories. Just as in the film, there are many examples of candles being lit up throughout the entire castle in many scenes. In the short story written by Edgar Allan Poe, there are examples of candles, but only in certain parts of the castle. In many pieces of symbolic literature, a candle is one way to show life being brought in. When the flame is lit, it fills any room with life; when the flame is out, however, there is no life present. Many authors use symbols to contribute to the tone and mood of their writing, and the director and author of Beauty and the Beast and “The Masque of the Red Death” are no exception.
Through the symbolic meaning of the candles used in Beauty and the Beast, the tone of the film is presented by emphasizing the life throughout the castle, which in turn, creates a joyous mood for the viewer. One example of a joyous event in the film is more towards the beginning. In this specific scene, Belle is locked in a dark dungeon when Lumiere, the Beast’s trustworthy candelabrum, uses his candles to enhance the dungeon, making it lighter and warmer for the girl. In another scene, the enchantress restores the eternal rose that was not only holding the life of all of the objects in the castle and the castle itself, but the hope and mortality of the Beast. When the rose is restored, the darkness fades away inside of the castle, and every candle within its walls becomes lit with a blazing flame. These examples from the film express how the symbolism present in the candles contributes to the idea that through them, life is brought in and fills the air. As described in the first scene, the light is brought in through Lumiere, which in turn, creates a safer and welcoming environment for a scared, young girl to be in. He offers an escape from the horrible conditions that Belle is being exposed to. Also, the candles present in the second scene that was described suggest that new life is being presented to the audience through them. As each candle becomes lit, it is almost as if one new life is being introduced into the castle. These events presented from the film are evident to be placed by the director. The director wanted to create an atmosphere filled with life and happiness, which is exactly how the tone of the film is presented. In turn, the viewer sees these examples of life, and becomes relieved by these joyous occasions, accomplished through the mood. In the film Beauty and the Beast, candles are used to symbolize happiness in the midst of danger and sadness through the tone and mood, which contrasts Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death.”
“The Masque of the Red Death,” written by Poe, portrays candles as producing an eerie tone and mood. One example of the eeriness is presented on page 43 when the text reads, “Now in no one of the seven apartments was there any lamp or candelabrum, amid the profusion of golden ornaments that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the roof. There was no light of any kind emanating from lamp or candle within the suite of chambers.” In this example, the lack of light provided from the candles within the castle creates a darkness that can only be solved with light. This feeling of mysteriousness that presents itself is eye opening to the reader because they can understand the presence of mystery that makes itself known within the castle. This event that Poe describes is coinciding with the idea that there is no light being produced from the candles, therefore creating a monumental impact on the tone. The solemn and creepy way that the masked figure moves about the seven dark rooms of the castle creates a lingering effect on the entire plotline of this short story. In both of these examples, the tone perceives the haunting and almost demoralizing way in which Poe creates the sense of eeriness as the tone. In return, the mood of the story is understood by the reader to be suspenseful and mysterious. The darkness fills the atmosphere, and, because there are no candles lit, there is no life present within the apartment walls. The warmth emanating from the candles is no longer produced, and there is utter and complete death surrounding the entire castle, creating a perfect place for darkness to rise. “The Masque of the Red Death” creates a dark presence, and, through the tone and mood, life is not achieved throughout the story.
Through the use of the symbolism present in candles, the tone and mood of the popular film Beauty and the Beast emits happiness and life, whereas in Poe’s short story “The Masque of the Red Death,” the tone and mood appear to be lifeless and suspenseful. In the film, Lumiere is present in bringing joy into the Beast’s castle. In one scene, Belle’s father enters the Beast’s castle only to find a roaring fire and a candlelit dinner waiting for him. The warmth emitting from the dining room invites him in, and he feels a sense of relief when he sees that there must be life within the castle. The warm and joyful feeling that the viewer feels creates the mood of the film. On the contrary, the short story emanates darkness and despair without the use of candles throughout the castle. On page 42, the text states, “But in the corridors that followed the suite, there stood, opposite to each window a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of fire, … And thus were produced a multitude of gaudy and fantastic appearances.” In this example, it is reasonable to conclude that there is no light within the seven apartments. However, there is light in the hallways connecting the rooms. This action proves to linger the suspense because it leaves the reader to question why the absence of candles in each room is occurring. The scary and mysterious feeling that the reader perceives is understood to be the mood of the short story. The presence of the candles creates different tones and moods for each piece. The warmth of candles in the tone of the film symbolizes an inviting and warm mood for the reader, whereas the lack of candles present in the dark tone of the short story symbolize a chilling and mysterious mood for the readers. Thus, the presence of the symbolism in the candles produces different tones and moods for each literary piece, leading to the conclusion that candles can mean different symbolizations.
Although candles are used in both Beauty and the Beast and “The Masque of the Red Death,” they symbolize different aspects of each story. In the film, candles bring joy and life to view, focusing on the good rather than the bad. However in Poe’s short story, the use of the candles focuses on how there is no light present from them. The darkness becomes surrounds the atmosphere, and there is nothing left except for darkness. As a result, the tones and moods of these pieces are increasingly different. Because the tones are focusing on different aspects that the candles put forward, the contrasting moods produce different outcomes for the reader. Through the stories of Beauty and the Beast and “The Masque of the Red Death,” candles symbolize how both life and death are present through the tones and moods.
A Question Of Beauty in Beauty and The Beast
A Beautiful Comparison
Beauty, and the idea of beautiful people or objects, has been around since the beginning of time. Women are considered to be beautiful if they dress a certain way, or wear their hair in the right style. What about women who are not considered beautiful, but have great character? Or what about men? Can they be beautiful or are they only able to be a beastly thing that needs to be pitied? “Beauty and the Beast” has been a tale that has been retold and remade more times that need be counted ever since the story of “Cupid and Psyche” circa A.D. 150 (Griswold 15) which draws on stories centuries before that. This fairy tale addresses the concept of what can makes someone beautiful and what makes someone beastly.
Today’s society may be most drawn to Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont’s version of “Beauty and the Beast” from 1756 (Griswold 27) which may be called the ‘classic’ version of this beloved tale. In de Beaumont’s version, the idea of beauty is made up of inward and outward traits plays a major role in how the reader views the interactions between Beauty and Beast. Outward beauty tends to deal with physical traits and appearances, whereas inward beauty is comprised of character, virtue, and kindness. While the characters of Beast and Beauty may seem completely opposite at first glance, they are in fact quite similar in the way they can perceive people’s beauty both physically and characteristically.
Beauty and Beast both are first described in connection to physical beauty. This may have led readers to ‘judge a book by its cover’ so to speak. For, Beauty was “very beautiful…admired by all” (de Beaumont 32) while Beast “looked so dreadful” (35) and is often called a monster both by himself and by those around him. It is not until later in the story that we learn more about their inward beauty, or virtue. We are not told much about Beast’s virtue however, Beauty is quite obviously “kindly, generous, humble, hardworking, patient, cheerful, etc.” (Griswold 41). Indeed, her “virtues are stressed” and “her looks are not mentioned,” except for her name, after the opening of the fairy tale (41).
This virtue of Beauty’s is what makes her so desirable for many men in the village. We know that even when her family lost their wealth, she was still approached with many offers of marriage, however, she turned them all down to “comfort [her father] and help him with his work” (de Beaumont 33). Her inward “virtues…stem from a willingness to sacrifice herself” (Tatar 26). Beauty’s beauty of selflessness and caring makes her an object of desire for “a number of gentlemen” (de Beaumont 33). This virtuousness does not escape recognition from the Beast. When Beauty takes the place of her father in the castle she is asked if she “had come of her own free will” which she had (37). To this act of selflessness Beast says, “You are very kind…I am very grateful to you” (37). She does not go unrewarded for her virtue as the story later reveals.
As was said before, Beauty is desirable to men because of her inward beauty. On the other side of the one who is desirable is the one who does the desiring. In this case, “the Beast functions as the desiring subject, Beauty as the desired object” (Korneeva 237). While some may view this as a bad thing, with “the Beast…characterized as a hero on a quest for an object” (241), I disagree. I believe Beast truly witnesses Beauty’s great virtue from the start. Although it may have begun as a hunt for a “bride-object who can save him from his bestiality,” it became much more (238). Beast came to understand the value of Beauty’s character and wanted both her outward and inward beauty for himself.
The character of Beauty is adept at telling if someone is beautiful, both inside and out. In addition to identifying it when it is there, she also tries to believe that everyone has inward beauty somewhere. We can see this in the case of Beast when Beauty declares, “I do think you are very kind…I am completely pleased with your good heart” (de Beaumont 38). While Beast may be considered “ugly” and “a monster” (38), Beauty is able to see past his outer looks to the core of his soul and “be touched by the goodness of [his] character” (41).
This may be a great trait to have, being able to hope for good in people, however, Beauty sometimes gets trapped by it. Her sisters, for instance, do not seem to be capable of a single act of goodness, but Beauty still has hope for them, often getting caught by their ploys. The sisters are extremely malicious towards Beauty, though she does not detect it. When Beauty returns home to see her father, they attempt – and succeed – in detaining her by “tearing out their hair and perform[ing] so well” (de Beaumont 40). Although this works at the time, their vanity and malice is rewarded in its own way at the end of the tale.
De Beaumont effectively warns readers to not become as them by having a fairy turn the sisters into statues. There is a way to cure their sudden stoniness, however, while “[y]ou can correct pride, anger, gluttony, and laziness…a miracle is needed to convert a heart filled with malice and envy” (42). While the sisters’ rotten inward beauty is turned to stone, Beauty’s true inward beauty is rewarded with a throne and a handsome prince.
Selflessness and seeing goodness when it is not there, are not Beauty’s only virtues. She also helps Beast begin to see his own beauty. Beast thinks he is nothing but a stupid monster, and perhaps Beauty starts out believing so too. As the story goes on, however, Beauty “sees past the Beast’s monstrous exterior and appreciates him for his character” (Dominguez 7). By the time she is allowed to return to her family, Beast’s love for her is reciprocated, though she does not fully know it yet.
Some readers of “Beauty and the Beast” believe that Beauty’s love was not actually love, but instead Stockholm syndrome. I do not agree with this argument, but stand with the idea that Beauty’s love for Beast is true. I see her authentic love for Beast in the way that she says “I though t that I felt only friendship for you… [but I] realize that I can’t live without you” (de Beaumont 41). The fact that Beauty did not admit to herself that she loved him reveals that she does truly love Beast and she is not some prisoner loving her captor.
Beauty’s love for Beast is also exhibited when she is allowed to leave the castle and does. Had it been Stockholm, Beauty would not have wanted to leave her captor, however, she does leave and doing so forced her to come to the realization that she actually “loved [the Beast] with all her heart” (de Beaumont 40). De Beaumont does a fantastic job in the way the story is constructed to “use[s] the tale to preach the transformative power of love, more specifically the importance of valuing essences over appearances” (Tatar 27).
Only after her prolonged stay at her father’s does Beauty finally understand that she really does love Beast, not for his looks but for his “character, virtue, and kindness,” which coincidentally is what Beast loves about her (de Beaumont 40). Beauty’s love for Beast helped her understand that there are more amiable qualities than handsomeness in a husband. Only after she realized this and came to love him as he was could she find the prince within – literally and figuratively.
The other main character of this story may not seem like he has much to offer in the realm of beauty, his name is literally Beast, but there may be a surprise or two in store if you are willing to search. Like Beauty, Beast is able to see both people’s physical beauty and their virtuous beauty. The main difference, however, is that Beast does not try to place characteristic on someone if they do not have them. He is quite matter-of-fact about the virtues people have or do not have.
Beast does not tend to tolerate any who show poor qualities. This can be observed the first time we meet him in connection to Beauty’s father. At first Beast was quite willing to let the stranger take shelter and food at his castle, however, as soon as the guest became a thief, even if it was only a rose, Beast sentences him to death. Fortunately for Beauty’s father, he had a daughter who was truly virtuous. Beast senses this before he meets her and “[t]hough the Beast proposes to kill Beauty’s father, he promises a different fate for the daughter who willingly joins him” (Dominguez 26). Instead of death, Beauty’s fate is a life of luxury and a marriage proposal every night.
Beast knows if Beauty will marry him the curse will be broken and he will be his princely, handsome self once again. The trouble Beast has with this is that he knows he is not handsome now, and why would Beauty want to marry a monster? Beast cannot identify his own outward beauty, which is why he needs Beauty to do so for him. Beast needed to learn from someone to look beyond the skin and view people as they truly are. Because “the plots [of the fairy tale] hinge on conduct rather than on adventurous circumstances,” Beast had time to study Beauty’s character, or inner beauty (Korneeva 234). Thus, Beast learned from the way Beauty came to love him, to understand the importance of having beauty on the inside. By discovering this, Beast was able to express his inner beauty more and win Beauty’s love.
Through this, Beast also learns the value of having beauty on the outside that his good human looks were not something to take for granted. When his physical beauty was taken away from him and he was forced to rely on his inner beauty. Which he thought he did not have any of, saying to Beauty, “I know very well I am nothing but a beast” (de Beaumont 38). This leads back to Beast learning from Beauty how to see himself as more than a monster. Beast is one big circle of having beauty, losing that beauty, wanting beauty he thinks he does not have, then gaining beauty back.
In the end, the reader comes to understand the importance of having virtuous character over good looks. The character of Beast helps further this understanding by his winning the heart of Beauty through his kindness and good heart and not by his good looks. Beast also helps the reader discern that they must understand the value of both having and seeing beauty as a whole. The character of Beauty, just like Beast, emphasizes the need for inner beauty. Her good virtues of kindness and selflessness are rewarded while her sister’s malice and hate is rewarded in its own way.
This fairy tale may be aimed at a younger audience, however, adults can learn a lesson or two from it as well. They can learn to appreciate those who have outward beauty, but must not be taken captive by their charming looks, because true beauty lies within. As Beast illustrated, confirming that others have beautiful characteristics comes naturally to us all, but realizing that you yourself are beautiful is more important. This realization grants self-confidence in appearances and the desire to be just as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside.
Analysis Of Different Versions Of Beauty and the Beast
The biggest difference that I noticed between the French version of Beauty and the Beast and the Disney version is the Disney version’s character development. In the French version, it talks about Beauty’s story and how she had to leave her father and fall in love with a beast to break this old curse. The characters consist of Beauty, her dad, her sisters, a little of her brothers, and the beast. Her sisters never develop into more than spoiled brats and her brothers have one role and that’s to try to tell her not to leave. He father is the reason she had to go in the first place and the beast is her consequence of sacrifice and the falling action of the story. In the Disney version, the writers focus on how Belle gets to be in the Beast’s clutches, but the main point is the story of the Beast and his servants who have been cursed. There is no mention of these servants in the French story but in the Disney version they are used to help develop the characters of Belle and Beast to get them to the point that they can love each other. In the French version, there is no build up to the love. They are just all of a sudden in love.
I think the major message of the Disney film is that Beauty is not only on the outside and is most important on the inside. Gaston and Beauty are the hottest people in the town and the biggest difference is their personality on the inside. Gaston is an ass and self-centered so he dies at the end. Belle is a generous, loving person and ends up living happily ever after. The beast is ugly on the outside but becomes a very gentle and loving creature towards Belle and as a result his curse is broken and he gets to live happily ever after. This, not so subtly, tells me that the point of the story is that the most important quality of a person is who they are on the inside.
I can see how Zipes views the characters as stereotypical but I do not agree that there is no character development. In Beauty and the Beast when Belle gets to the beast’s castle she is horrified by the Beasts ugliness but in the end she falls in love with him. To get to that point she would have had to change somehow and that is character development. She is not a damsel in distress because she sacrifices herself to save her father and makes the most of her time in the castle. Yes, the Beast saved her from the wolves when she ran away but she stood up to him when he lost his temper afterwards.
As for the cleaning aspect and 19th century value, all of the servants in the castle got turned into the tools they used to use in their jobs. The wardrobe does not clean. The chest does not clean. The stove does not clean. They are servants. Some of their jobs are to clean but not all of them did that. I felt that the servants were put there to help develop the characters of Belle and the beast.
I do not agree that the power remains in the hands of the wealthy man either. Belle got her prince but she changed the beast. He started being nicer and using a spoon for her. She has a lot of influence over him and I believe that she has the power here, not the beast. He does not even get a name.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Movie Analysis
The Self-Sufficient Beauty and the Entitled Beast
Growing up means growing up with stereotypes and gender roles following behind like an annoying friend. They mature, starting from being expected to playing with and nursing dolls, or destroying toys and playing in the mud, and from there never seem to end. As a young child, girls are taught that if a boy belittles her and relentlessly harrases her, that he must like her and she should just shut up, accept it, and be happy to let it happen and to hide her shame. “Shame leads to silence — the silence that keeps other people believing that we actually approve of the things that are done to women…” (Kimmel 34) This is not only taught by our society, but also our media starting with movies shown to children. One of the culprits to presenting these stereotypes and making them “normal” is Disney, who can be infamous for instilling this into little girls — and even boys — minds. This only further brought to light by making the female’s roles in their movies as innocent, pure, and — whilst very rarely — independent, while the men are big, burly, aggressive and pushy. One of Disney’s most prominent offenders is “Beauty and the Beast” which came out in 1991, which is a good sign that this is not a new issue.
In “Beauty and the Beast”, Belle is a young independent woman who doesn’t seem to need the attention from any male figure in her life other than her father. She is the embodiment of a self-sufficient female, until one of the main male characters comes into play. This character, Gaston, is the conventional image of a male that is typically aggressive, as he is very belligerent towards Belle and anyone who crosses his path. The way he treats Belle is a stepping stone to further the plot in the movie as Belle is not interested in Gaston which only promotes his hostility. While this seems as just an essential plot point in a little kids movie, it seems to go much further as some women could probably relate with what Belle is going through. In an essay by Paul Theroux, he explains that “It is very hard to imagine any concept of manliness that does not belittle women, and it begins very early.” (97) This can be applied to the well-loved Disney movie because as little girls are told it is “okay” for boys to be entitled to them, and to show “affection” by bullying them while none of the supporting characters seem to realize that what Gaston is doing is actually wrong. In fact, it seems that the issue in the “Beauty and the Beast” isn’t regarding stereotyping women, but rather that they focus on and accentuating the male stereotype.
Gaston is accompanied by his sidekick, Lefou, who reminds him that he can in fact get whatever he wants. Yearned for from all of the women in the town, with even the men wishing they were as “godly” and looked as good as he did, Gaston ignores all of “lesser” looking women and expects Belle to be his wife. He explains how he would want her to maintain the house, rub his feet, and bear his many children, regardless of the knowledge that Belle is completely uninterested in being his “little wife” who conceives his progeny. Gaston furthers his idiocracy by claiming that women should not read and not exhibit intellect and taking a spiteful insult delivered by Belle as a compliment. This also breaks into the conventional standard that men do not have to be smart to be accepted.
Entitled males is a recurring theme in “Beauty and the Beast” and it does not stop at Gaston. When Belle finally meets the Beast, a prince whose fate has goes awry and was turned into a monster, she is overcome with his quarrelsome personality and is in fact locked up so she would not leave him. It is gathered from this point on that Belle is simply a way for the Beast to retrieve his former looks, owing to the fact that as soon as he can find someone to love him, he will be “normal” again. At one point, Belle cleans up after the Beast following one of his outbursts, be it because she felt she needed to or she was just being kind, it was incredibly unnecessary as she is literally being held captive in his castle. Barbara Ehrenreich, in her essay “What I’ve Learned from Men” states, “The essence of ladylikeness is a persistent servility masked as ‘niceness.’ For example, we (women) tend to assume that it is our responsibility to keep everything ‘nice’ even when the person we are with is rude, aggressive, or emotionally AWOL.” (139) As the Beast became violent, Belle was inclined to take initiative to clean up for him, even after what he did to her.
Despite all of what the Beast puts Belle through, she still undoubtedly falls in love with him and he reverses back into the “beautiful” prince he once was. Nothing anyone with common sense would question why Belle would stay with the Beast would have to realize that there is no reason, this is just another stereotype provided by Disney. As a consequence of this, young children are introduced early to stereotypes of the way manliness “should be” and how women are “expected” to be. Nevertheless, the main target generation of these movies happen to be the same generation that has grown up to break these cliche “norms” and understand that these gender roles and expectations are ones that should be noticed. Perhaps the parents of the kids who watch these movies still today can use it as a teaching lesson, showing that being presumptuous is not the proper way to express interest in someone, and that being hostile and expecting one to succumb their expectations is wrong.
A look at the customary roles of gender as depicted in the movies Beauty and the Beast, Mr Mom and The Little Mermaid, and Mulan
Traditional Gender Roles and the Media
Traditionally, girls must be gentle and submissive while boys can rough house and have the freedom the opposite gender is denied. This idea of gender roles is birthed from the static expectations of old societal views. Although the media is shying away from this nowadays, many films do not share the same sentiment. Mr. Mom, a movie from the 80’s, depicts a wife and husband switching careers—one as a housewife, the other as the breadwinner—for the underlying purpose of understanding each other better. However, even though both adults discover newfound pride and comfort in their work, they eventually return to their old stations, implying that they are ultimately happier in their traditional roles. Similar to Mr. Mom, as much as today’s media likes to portray the reversal of these roles, many of these old opinions still prevail in movies such as Mr. Mom, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Mulan.
Along with Mr. Mom, animations such as Beauty and the Beast portray a disruption in society caused by a defiance of set gender roles. Mr. Mom depicts a role reversal in which Caroline, a housewife, begins working in advertising while her husband Jack, a former engineer, loses his job and stays at home to care for their children. Caroline is belittled during her first day at work by her superiors for being a woman, and the rest of her working days are filled with sexual harassment from her boss, Ron. Other male executives blatantly disrespect her and her intelligence, opting not to listen to her at times because of her seemingly useless ideas. In addition to this, Ron continually tries to have his way with her despite knowing she is married and has children. Even when she presents herself as an educated woman with experience in her field, her superiors expect her to be submissive, to know her place and not speak up for herself when she is being insulted, and Ron feels entitled to having her simply because he is a man, her superior, and wealthy. Similarly, in Beauty and the Beast’s song “Belle,” as Belle walks through her village, the townsfolk sing, “With a dreamy, far-off look and her nose stuck in a book—what a puzzle to the rest of us is Belle.” Belle is educated, literate, and dreams of a more adventurous future, which is more than what most women do in this time period. The townsfolk note that because she does not follow the trend for women her age, she is a “puzzle” for them, implying that she is confusing and difficult. The mere act of being independent from the traditional gender role of an illiterate, submissive wife makes her strange in their eyes. Soon, even Gaston sings, “Here in town there’s only she who is beautiful as me, so I’m making plans to woo and marry Belle.” Gaston’s pride and sheer entitlement to marrying Belle for her beauty shows that even though her most admirable traits are her kindness and mind, all he can think about is her looks. This mirrors Mr. Mom in that Caroline’s boss only cares about her looks and his own pleasure whenever he makes a move on her rather than her genius in advertising or bright personality. The fact that Gaston and Ron harass Belle and Caroline, respectively, for their appearance alone shows the audience that all that matters is a woman’s appearance, not her intelligence or personality.
In The Little Mermaid, evidence of traditional gender roles lies in the song “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” Ursula, the evil sea witch, makes a deal with the mermaid Ariel, who wants to live in the world above the sea, to give her legs for three days as long as she pays a steep price: her voice. As Ariel is famous for her beautiful voice and one can hardly communicate without one, she is very unsettled by this offer. However, in response to her well-found suspicion, she is met with a convincing ultimatum given to her and the audience through a typical villain song. In “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” Ursula sings, “Come on, [men aren’t] all that impressed with conversation. True gentlemen avoid it when they can! But they dote and swoon and fawn on a lady who’s withdrawn. It’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man!” This song serves to remind Ariel of the concept of equivalent exchange in Ursula’s own conniving way—that to get something, one must first give something up in return. However, the lyrics also remind the audience of how women are traditionally expected to be: quiet and “withdrawn.” When Ursula says “[it’s] she who holds her tongue who gets a man,” she means that men are only attracted to women who know when not to speak, which, in this case, is always. Ariel’s acceptance of complete silence just to live in the human world and, more importantly, be with Prince Eric only emphasizes the fact that to win a man over, a woman must be “withdrawn” and willing to stay quiet since men are not “impressed with conversation.” This message is repeated many times throughout the movie in the fact that when Ariel tries to woo Eric over through body language and persistence alone, Eric actually falls in love with her, and Ariel finds herself comfortable and adaptive to her lack of voice. He does “dote and swoon and fawn,” as Ursula said, on Ariel in her silence, which only perpetuates Ursula’s argument that quiet women are what men want. Ariel never says a word to Eric during those three days except for at the very end when the spell that gives her legs runs out, but even then he has already fallen in love with her. “Poor Unfortunate Souls” introduces the concept of men feeling attracted to withdrawn women, and although Ariel eventually gets her voice back and marries her prince, the fact that Eric falls in love with her voiceless self says volumes about the underlying message of gender roles.
Traditional gender roles all around the world portray marriage as the end goal for all women, including Mulan’s ancient Chinese setting. In Asian cultures specifically, there is a widespread belief that a son will always be more valuable than a daughter due to carrying on the family name and their ability to do hard labor for the family. The only duty a daughter has to her family is to marry well and birth and care for sons. This is shown when Mulan, the only child of the Fa family, is rushed to beautify and ready herself for a matchmaking session that will pair her with a potential husband in the song “Honor to Us All,” in which the happy characters sing, “A girl can bring her family great honor in one way: by striking a good match . . . We all must serve our Emperor . . . A man by bearing arms, a girl by bearing sons.” The entire scene depicts several girls including Mulan readying themselves to meet the matchmaker. By singing “[we] all must serve our Emperor,” it establishes marriage as a duty rather than a choice for the girls, that they “must” serve the Emperor through marriage. The smiling girls and characters all around imply that girls are happy with this duty. It then goes on to say that while “sons bear arms,” “girls bear sons,” which also puts females underneath males in order of importance from birth alone, furthering the power of the patriarchal society. Everything about this song points girls towards the idea of marriage and birthing sons as the only way women can be of use and be happy. Even though Mulan later saves all of China through bearing arms, something that the song states is for sons, and defying her culture’s sexist traditions, at the end of the movie, even her grandmother is disappointed that she does not bring home a husband by the end of the war. While both incredulous and humorous on the basis of exasperation, it reminds the audience that no matter what Mulan does, even if she saves China and bests male troops in fighting, her not finding a husband by the end of it all is still a disappointment. As declared in “Honor to Us All,” it does not matter that she killed China’s greatest enemy or that she receives the Emperor’s approval, just that she needs a husband to be of worth.
Traditional gender roles are emphasized in many types of media today, whether it be subtle or obvious. In particular, Mr. Mom, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Mulan hold to the latter, from comedic situations that portray the inequity between genders to songs with lyrics that condemn female independence and empowerment. It sends a powerful message to the audience that women must be beautiful and withdrawn to attract men, girls are less valuable than boys, and a woman’s only duty is to marry and have children. Unfortunately, as progressive as today’s society is about breaking away from gender roles, these old, traditional ideals still hold true in many movies.
A Theme of Beauty in “Beauty and the Beast”
Beauty is a concept that is relative and comparative in our society today. Women especially often flock to books, magazines, movies, and media because they have this desire to try and fill that vacant space of being beautiful. After time and time again of being unsatisfied of their need and desire to be beautiful, they should see that their outward appearance of beauty will not change what is important to them, or their identity. Along with that, outward beauty does not show what is essential in a person. It does not show their morals, values, characteristics or their feelings. Outward appearance does not show their love for their family, or their grace and forgiveness. “Beauty and the Beast” is an excellent example of these characteristics and traits. Her appearance on the outside does not consume the Beauty character, but she shows characteristics that no outward beauty can make up for. She shows her love in her sacrifice, morals, forgiveness, and trust. She shows her love through sacrifice and grace. Beast, however, has no outward beauty and often is labeled as angry and hostile. Furthermore, he shows grace when no one expects him to. The fairytale story of “Beauty and the Beast” that entails forgiveness while showing grace for all people in every situation and sacrifice is the most significant gesture of affirmation that you can give to anyone.
In “Beauty and the Beast,” the two main characters are Beauty and Beast. These characters have an interesting dynamic between them. Beauty exemplifies grace, honesty, and trust while this beast is holding her hostage just so that she could save her father. She sacrificed herself for her family because she loves them. As a child, her sisters tormented her because she was beautiful and humble. They were not ugly, but she was just prettier. Her sisters were caught up with the materiality of the world. They only wanted new clothes and fine jewelry. After their father had lost his business, they became inferior in society. Having to sell all the beautiful things they had. Her sisters wailed and complained against the situation, but it did no good. Their father went on a trip in an attempt to save his ships and his business. He asked his daughters what they wanted. Beauty’s sisters wanted jewelry and clothes, but Beauty only wanted a rose. After a great deal of trouble, he went to return home with nothing. Upon arriving near to his house, he became lost in the forest through the heavy rain and snow. He saw a palace off in the distance, and he went in. He ate until he was satisfied, then slept until morning. Beast noticed him and sent him on his way. While on his way out, he took a rose for Beauty to satisfy her request. The monster allowed him to return to his daughters and his family by agreeing to one condition, Beauty had to come in place of him, or he needed to return in 3 months. Beauty sacrificed herself and journeyed to the palace in her father’s place.
In this heart touching story, the dynamics between characters unfold until the very end. The attribute of beauty is not always what it is all caught up to be. Beauty’s father returned home, after the monstrous beast allowed him to do, only to have his daughter take his place. Sacrifice is viewed as one of the grandest gesture that anyone can give. Beauty was willing to sacrifice everything she had to save her father’s life. By this action, she showed love towards her family. Some people show love by gifts, words. Alternatively, quality time, but Beauty showed it through her sacrifice. By doing this, she showed excellent characteristics of her personality. Beauty never knew the situation of Beast. She showed true entrustment in the beast to provide for her and not maim her.
Although people look at the beast as this overbearing monster, he showed characteristics of good. People tend to assume from the beginning that the antagonist cannot have good qualities about him, but the story shows how he is able to give grace to his prisoners. Usually, a reader will jump to conclusions before finishing the writing about a character and how they act and think. Because Beast is the antagonist in this story, many people expect him to have a few good traits about him, but that would be incorrect. Society today often believes that if a character is evil, they have no good in them. However, Beast is an excellent example of showing the ability to have outstanding characteristics. Grace is a hard attribute to understand and show indeed. Beast not only showed it by letting her father return home for some time, but by being hospitable, and caring for Beauty. Beast is portrayed as an atrocious, barbaric, uncivilized monster, but with a more in-depth look, he shows virtues of beauty.
In today’s society, outward appearance has more influence on a person’s status than their values or ideals. In a perfect world, no one would care what the striking appearance communicated about a person. Everyone would take a step back, and listen before judging someone based on their hair, clothes or shoes. In every version or adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, whether a play, musical, or movie, the Beauty character always has the opportunity to judge the beast based upon his looks. In the movie Beauty and the Beast by Disney Beast even says “She will never see me as anything…but a monster.” He recognizes his outward appearance as a monster and even lets that define him at one point, but as the audience finds out later on in the movie.
Many variations of this original story have already been written. Some of these include The Frog Prince and The Pig King. In“The Frog Prince” is one of these variations. This writing is about a frog who saved the princess’ favorite toy, a golden ball because he wanted to spend time with her. He longed to eat dinner at the table and run and play with her. The princess promised to allow him to do all these things with her, completely ignoring that he was a frog. After reobtaining the golden ball, she ran off to return home, but the frog could not keep up. Later that evening her father heard a knock at the door. Surprised, the frog began to explain his situation. The father let him in and explained to the princess how she would have to keep the promise she made. Later on into the night the princess and the frog went into her bedroom. When the princess finally had enough, she picked him up and threw him against the wall. At that moment, he then turned into a handsome prince. This outcome comes to show that even the best people can end up in the worst circumstances.
Every story can be changed, made up, or exaggerated. Companies such as Broadway and Disney have made “Beauty and the Beast” something it is not. They have taken the story way out of proportion even have changed the meaning. Beauty and the Beast have changed the meaning of the original story. The movie and the writing have similarities and differences — for example, the song “Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme. Beauty and the Beast” is well known from the movie by Disney. The movie has adapted the story for a younger audience to be able to understand. The New York Times states “The audience needs to be, by turns, reassured and surprised, guided through startling and suspenseful events toward a never-in-doubt conclusion.” This means that even Beauty and the Beast plot has been changed so that the audience stays engaged.
The story of Beauty and the Beast has enchanted a variety of audiences for a number of years. This story tells about grace and forgiveness. It shows the importance of being devoted to a family through sacrifice to show love. Even Broadway, and Disney have taken this story to show essential values such as grace, sacrifice, and love.
Beauty and the Ugly
In Beauty and the Beast, the story unethically depicts how a female is seen through the eyes of a man, and how women should shouldn’t read books or it will give her ideas, it teaches children that since females are more irrational and emotional than men, then men have to watch over their every move. The story, a Disney classic, loved by everyone, is about a young woman named Belle who runs off after not wanting to marry a man obsessed with her and runs into the beast, who then grudgingly takes her in.
Eventually the beast becomes more comfortable with her, but doesn’t let her roam some parts of his castle, he falls in love with Belle and turns into the man he always was behind the curse. The film expresses many immortal messages, which are conveyed to young audiences as normal. Beauty and the Beast is the artifact I chose because it displays rape culture, obsessive relationships, and the idea of not empowering women.
In Beauty and the Beast rape culure is shown through the character, Gaston. Gaston is the hunk of the town, every girl is in love with him, but he has his eyes on one girl only. Gaston has the inability to take no for an answer, every time he asks Belle out she respectfully answers no and he always disagrees. Gaston is a misogynist, and his toxic masculinity poisons the provincial town Belle wants so desperately to leave. He always intimates in so many ways that he thinks he and Belle are destined to be together. ‘You should start thinking about??¦ your own??¦ children,’ he says in the film, gesturing at his body rather than hers. When he says that he is signaling sexual content which is not fit for children, and could be taken in a horrible way to some women.
The portrayal of the characteristics of rape culture in the Disney animated princess movies does not change over time, but does fluctuate depending on the plot and the interaction of the characters. Another example of rape culture is the theme of romantic kidnapping. In Beauty and the Beast, Belle is kidnapped by the Beast and held captive in his palace. Even when she attempts to run away and is bombarded by wolves in the wilderness, the Beast comes to save her and yet imprisons her once more. However, this storyline of a happy ever after is flawed Belle was originally attempting to escape the Beast, her captor, and yet he is rewarded for taking her hostage once more. For kids to believe that kidnapping is romantic in any form at such a young age is extremely harmful to how they will grow up and learn to develop healthy relationships. Allowing a child to watch men take away the vehicle of choice for a woman teaches them it is exceptional and even normal.
Beauty and the Beast Analysis
In August of 2009, Jaycee Lee Dugard was discovered alive after she had actually been abducted in 1991, and she was still with her initial captor. Sources have actually specified that Dugard had actually established a case of Stockholm syndrome with the man who abducted her eighteen years back. A psychiatrist named Keith Ablow mentioned that “To keep one’s desperation and sorrow and rage for several years, would be too destructive to the human mind– so the human mind informs itself a story about safety and contentment to secure itself– that’s the essence of Stockholm Syndrome” (Engel).
For years, Stockholm syndrome has made an appearance in dozens of films; sometimes the entire plot focuses around it, sometimes it’s a vague recommendation. Nevertheless, one circumstances of Stockholm syndrome that is extremely pronounced, yet never ever dealt with occurs in Walt Disney’s Charm and the Beast (Trousdale 1991). Based on a French novel, Charm and the Beast was seriously well-known as being one of the very best love stories ever told, as it taught to like what is within, rather of being consumed by vanity; it was considered so successful that it was even the first animated film to be chosen for an Academy Award for best image.
Nevertheless, even with its vital and ticket office success, no one has actually addressed what type of love story Disney is promoting. The film Beauty and the Beast does not reveal a story of real love and admiration of inner appeal, however rather promotes the idea of Stockholm syndrome and falling for your abductor. When Belle goes on a mission to conserve her father, she ends up at a secluded castle, where she finds her daddy locked inside the dungeon at the top of a tower. The Monster, who rules the castle, uses to let her father go if Belle takes his location as prisoner.
His thinking for making her stay as his detainee is his hope of making her fall in love with him (and him with her) in order to break the curse upon him, his servants, and his castle. Right there we see that the Beast’s entire character inspiration is focused around Stockholm Syndrome, as he is attempting to make his prisoner, who he is holding against her will, fall for him. He is not kind at initially; he roars and yells, efficiently scaring the lady of his desires, and demands she follow his orders, just like any captor would.
Belle, on the other hand, is at first adamant about keeping her distance from the Beast, even when his enchanted furniture servants attempt to convince her that he’s really a “good guy”. Belle begins to have a change of heart after the Beast saves her from being eaten by wolves…she was almost eaten because she was attempting to escape. Even though the Beast saves her from the mean and scary wolves by bringing her back to her place of captivity, she’s so grateful for his “rescue” that she begins to think that he has the potential to be good.
A montage of cute interactions between the two characters then takes place, showing how the two are beginning to bond and feel something for one another, with barely a whisper of the fact that Belle is still being held against her will. The Beast lavishes upon her with food, music, and clothing; the gracious captor even deems a huge library in the castle to be hers, and she can access it any time she wants. How kind of him to give her full access to books inside a castle that she has no choice but to spend all of her time in.
He later creates a fancy date night for the two of them (still inside the castle) that even contains ballroom dancing. He finds out she is homesick, figures out he is in love with her, and let’s her go free. However, she later returns to the castle of her own free will in order to save his life. She professes her love, he turns into a handsome prince, and they live happily ever after at a castle that he now has permission to leave any time she wants.
Perhaps by the end of the film Belle really did love the Beast. Even so, her love was shaped and influenced by her self-created tale of “safety and contentment” altered opinion of him during her captivity in his castle. Disney’s version of this tale of Stockholm syndrome-based love seems to contain a great moral message for young girls: if you’re held captive by a hideous monster who is vying for your affection, just go ahead and fall in love, because he’ll turn beautiful.
Belle’s happy ending meant she never had to sue the beast for kidnapping, luckily for him. It’s a shame real life doesn’t follow Disney cartoons as often as it should. Just ask Jaycee. Her beast is still a beast; there was no prince at the end of her story. She got her freedom, yes, but no prince. That’s probably a good thing. It’s definitely better that beastly captors don’t change into rich and handsome men once their imprisoned object of desire returns their feelings; the justice system would never get anything done.