I've been waiting to perform a step por step examination of this movie, the presentation of Belle por the narrative and the romance for quite awhile now. Hopefully, it clarifies my stance, highlights the points of Belle's characterization that in my opinion come off as engaging and thoughtfully constructed and the ones I take a major issue with. Not expecting for anyone to agree but hopefully people manage to read it until the end.
So, I have just completed my million + rewatch of Beauty and the Beast in order to write up and put together a short analysis of those aspects of Belle and Beast’s romance that I amor and the ones that strike me as problematic as well as the reasons why their relationship come off as undoubtedly layered, complex and multi-dimensional but in many ways flawed from a storytelling and build up stand point.
Let me start por stating that after carefully examining multiple elements and underlying subtleties of Belle and Beast’s relationship the “lol Belle had a Stockholm Syndrome” completely unwarranted and ultimately irrational assumption started being even más confusing to me seeing as it is as far from the truth as Earth is from the Moon - in fact, even farther. Belle never had this kind of psychological disorder - o any disorder for the matter. Beast is the one to be struggling with severe emotional issues that affected his perception of the world and treatment of people and that’s where my concerns with the story come from, o más specifically with the way his issues were subsequently addressed and dealt with.
Point being, Beast was inflicted with a curse obtaining a monstrous form at the age of mere 11 and for the siguiente ten years he remained isolated and othered por the society hence the profound lack of social o communicative skills. That said, calling him wild would also be largely incorrect for he understands adult human speech despite never going to school o lectura libros to improve his vocabulary. When he first interacts with Belle he doesn’t talk like a 11 año old would - he talks as a grown up, in fact, he sounds más adult than Belle, a certified bookworm. Beast carries a heavy burden of experience and inner issues he is incapable of taking a consistent control over o keep concealed. He is being physically violent - dragging Belle’s father through the staircase and out of the castillo despite being informed on Maurice’s health issues and he does grab Belle earlier on in the dungeon in order to make her turn to him. Beast IS abusive - but what makes the situation más complicated is the fact that he has legitimate reasons to be. And por legitimate I mean self preservation and self defense seeing as he isn’t hiding away from the society and people just because he is introverted and likes being alone, he is afraid of being judged and possibly afraid for his life since violence against the outcasts and those who fall under the “not like everybody else” category is only another stage of alienating them which is going to inevitably come one way o another (and knowing the subsequent events of the story and how they turn out it actually DOES happen) therefore when Maurice inadvertently commits the intrusion into his castillo Beast is just as afraid of him as the aforementioned is of Beast hence the latter automatically assuming Maurice is there to look at the monster, to judge him - o worse (while Maurice might be a harmless old man Beast possesses virtually no knowledge on his intentions and who he might bring together with him if allowed to leave the castillo free. Say, it might be an angry crowd led por some psychotic local narcissist). Beast makes a deal with Belle - más specifically she makes a deal with him therefore it’s her conscious decision to stay in the castillo in place of her father - and spends another segment of the movie behaving inappropriately and making a handful of admittedly unadmirable but understandable in terms of context mistakes - yelling at her because once again, he has no communicative skills due to years of isolation, threatening to starve her if she refuses to eat with him, etc. The only thing that comes off as ultimately intolerable - and ironically the one that normally and usually gets overlooked por the reviewers - is Beast watching Belle in a magic mirror while she is in her room which is a textbook invasion of privacy. But to be frank I cannot even be mad at Beast for that knowing what’s going to occur just about few minutos later, specifically Belle disobeying a direct request to not visit the West Wing and thus disregarding Beast’s privacy in a far más disturbing manner seeing as it is HIS house and the rules are rightfully established por HIM rather than her which invokes an immediate flashback of Belle’s various encounters with Gaston when he nearly damaged her property (a book) and later obnoxiously made his way into her house without the invitation only to be thrown away - and no one could blame Belle for doing so and in such unambiguous manner since it’s not acceptable to invade other people’s property. But lets now fastforward to the West Wing scene and Belle nearly damaging the rose - which, lets face it, would have done considerably más harm than throwing a book into the dirt and Belle, who is presented por the narrative as an intellectually superior entity to the point where literally every other character is either undermined in worth despite running a small business, being a service worker, etc o slutshamed (the villagers that are painted as shallow and superficial on behalf of upholding Belle’s intellectual superiority and Bimbettes who are portrayed as “dumb blondes” for being explicit and open about their romantic/sexual attraction towards Gaston for the sake of highlighting Belle’s special snowflake status because she is totally not like them and has ~ depth and agency and wants adventure in great white somewhere) - cannot tell that touching a suspiciously glowing flor in an encantada castillo MIGHT not be the best idea, especially after being instructed por the owner of dicho castillo to stay away. The rest is history, Beast snaps - and not that anyone can blame him since Belle did just that when Gaston behaved the same way - immediately regrets his temper, follows Belle on foot despite a freezing cold and packs of lobos sneaking around the forest because - yes, because he is already irrevocably committed to the idea of Belle being his only chance for redemption. If anyone has a Stockholm Syndrome it’s Beast who is involuntarily subjected to isolation and desperately holds on to that one superior entity - Belle - who he feels like he can never reach o measure up to because of how weak and useless he considers himself to be.
He saves her life, she has segundo thoughts about whether to proceed to inicial and leave him bleed to death on the snow o actually behave like a decent person and help, thankfully choosing the latter option and then they share some completely mesmerizing and genuinely beautiful scenes where neither is superior o inferior and the two of them are just being EQUALS - Belle thanks him, he is delighted that for the first time in a long run someone has shown a modicum of consideration and acceptance, she doesn’t judge o condescend him and they merely spend time together and the biblioteca scene epitomizes the beauty of that stage of their relationship. That is the Beast and Belle that I love, having the time of their lives, understanding each other and making one another content. If only the movie had remained true to this engaging concept rather than resorting to Belle the superior entity again. But it does. Once Something There starts Belle takes the role of a mentor upon herself yet again, exposing Beast to the ideology of appropriate behavior based on mesa, tabla mannerism and a power of a printed word and even later when Beast wants to dance with her she HAS to mostrar him how to do it right, how to be prim and proper because she can NOT take him being ridiculous and funny and weird around her and STILL amor him in spite of those flaws which is what a healthily functioning relationship should be defined por because hey: Prince Eric let Ariel behave like a local psycho during the Kingdom tour but admired her craziness that made him amor her even more; Rapunzel was willing to accept Flynn as a thief and let him choose whether he wants to revaluate and reconsider his life style; Charming did not care about Cinderella’s background, Phillip was about to marry a peasant girl dancing and canto in the forest despite what the societal norms determined as suitable for his royal self because he chose to defy the norms for Aurora rather than try to change HER in order to suit him. Belle? Consistently invested immense efforts into molding Beast into her designed concepts of worthwhile and fulfilled which is where my major issue with their romance comes from.
But then it gets worse - once Beast lets Belle go and she leaves without a further notice, without ensuring him she comes back after her father gets better, without even taking it upon herself to ask what that sacred rose actually meant and why it was so important and maybe there is something she needs to know to make sure he will be alright. Jeez Belle, for an intellectually superior special snowflake tu are lacking perceptive and analytical skills drastically. As the faithful sequence with Maurice being thrown in asylum occurs the angry crowd is standing right siguiente to Belle’s house. Now, obviously, she wants to protect her father, however, point is, Maurice is not in any sort of MORTAL danger at the moment, she could come up with a carefully outlined and well thought out plan concerning how to get him out later but instead she chooses to expose Beast to dicho angry crowd that is literally capable of anything - and yes, as contrived and troubling as the narrative’s attempts to make everyone in the movie seem less civilized and intelligent than Belle can be it’s a dado fact that those people were close minded and therefore dangerous, especially for someone who is different like Beast. Shouldn’t Belle know that based on personal experience? o it’s another instance of intellectually superior special snowflake Belle being astonishingly and inexplicably silly and delusional?
Now, back to Beast. Someone who used to have quite a perspective in regards to self defense doesn’t only lose it in an instant but what is so much worse - becomes suicidal, ready to welcome death with arms wide open because a girl he perceived as his only way to be redeemed left him. One could argue that he was a changed man por that point and I wouldn’t disagree with that, however, mesa, tabla mannerism and libros can NOT cure o dissolve all the deeply embedded psychological issues in such a concise period of time and in fact, it doesn’t happen and instead of Beast with unresolved anger issues that he was prior to meeting Belle he becomes even más of a self loathing, insecure person with suicidal tendencies which is anything but a basis for healthy relationship. It literally takes him to SEE Belle again to fight back against his attacker although he could have easily overpowered Gaston at any point. Then there is a “dying/being healed and rehabilitated in every way with the power of love” sequence and sue me but I just cannot resist the enredados reference because of how similar the two scenes are… except not really. The thing is, in enredados Flynn sacrifices himself FOR Rapunzel because he has such a faith in her and her potential and so much regard for her freedom (the one that Beast initially deprived Belle of due to her conscious decision which is how their relationship ultimately started - a double extent of problematic) he would rather die and let her go on without him and in his final moments he KNOWS he was loved por her. Rapunzel is not a superior entity to Flynn o his only key to redemption, she is his equal who he doesn’t put on pedestal but appreciates for that tenderness and joy she gave him which he returned in every way. Beast? Actually assumes it’s for the better that he dies because he is STILL insecure about whether Belle loves him back o not. He would rather embrace death than face Belle’s rejection because it would mean losing his last chance at rehabilitation.
Summing up, Belle/Beast story has a distinct meaning, it IS a story about not judging the book por it’s cover, about two outcasts building each other up, about two people finding comfort por the side of the other. My issues with how the storyline was structured come from a place of the way their relationship progressed and reached that point rather than with the premise of their romance not being beautiful and appealing.