As Beauty and the Beast releases today, it got me thinking about Belle as a character in the modern day. There has been a lot of talk about feminism in the last few years and what we, as women, stand for and what our values are in this modern day society. Disney, a massive franchise, is one which has evolved over time and princesses waiting to be rescued in high towers have been replaced with strong heroines like Elsa in Frozen and Mulan, women who will fight for what they stand for and are women in their own right.
I remember watching ‘Beauty and the Beast’ on VHS as a kid and being utterly enthralled by Belle’s character. She was so much like me. She loved the library and loved to read and god help anyone who stopped her from having an opinion. She is stubborn and outspoken and though people in her town mocked her being a bookworm, she continued to seek out knowledge and take on adventures.
One of my main issues, having rewatched the animated ‘Beauty and the Beast’ as an adult, is her love for the Beast and the concept that Belle, as a woman, can tame the Beast inside him. A lot of people have said that Belle is an abusive relationship and has elements of Stockholm syndrome but i personally think that is ridiculous. Beast looks like a monster and people treat him like one so that is what he turns into. It takes Belle to see past his monster like ways and see him as a person, with feelings and fears. Belle’s affection for him grows from their mutual love of books and music and though she was his captive, she changed him and made him a better person.
I do think that Belle is a heroine to be reckoned with in the Disney world and for her time, she was revolutionary – standing up for herself, her family and the Beast. She has an independent and open mind and though ‘Beauty and the Beast is a love story, it is also one about a women who is defiant in her quest for knowledge and love.
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