Beauty and the Beast is explored further in this great post from guest blogger, Abi Christian. This is her second post for Disnerd Adventures. Note: The embedded TED talk is about 20 minutes long, but well worth the time!
Not surprisingly, Belle’s nose-in-the-book, head-in-the-clouds daydreaming made her my favorite Disney character growing up. To shy, middle-of-the-family, plain-looking little girls everywhere (ok, I was adorable until the second grade), Belle was quality proof that unconventional and quietly quirky were indeed beloved traits (way before the wave of Zooey Deschanel indie films).
A heroine so intelligent and independent is reason enough to love the tale of Beauty and the Beast. Seeing it again, though, I was equally drawn to the Beast. Don’t we all—in our more honest moments—examine the beastly tendencies within ourselves and ache to know that a parent, a friend, a lover, even a chipped-tooth tea cup could see “something there” that’s worth knowing, even loving?
As I paid more attention to the Beast, the requirements of the spell in particular stood out. Not only did the Beast have to get past his own self-centeredness, someone had to love him back.
Think about that for a moment.
How in the world—enchanted or not—do you get anyone to love you?
If we knew the answer, there would be far less heartbreak and separation and disunity. Families would be whole, friends would keep in touch, lovers would stay, and romantic comedies would finally reflect reality. This rose-wielding enchantress is absurd. Change yourself? Difficult and challenging but put the pedal to the metal and you can probably do it by your 21st birthday.
Get someone to love you? It’s too much to ask, lady.
To love anyone is to be placed in a terrifying position of vulnerability. As Laura pointed out, the Beast’s actual transformation happens a few scenes before his physical transformation, when he releases Belle from captivity. The Beast has done his part. He has loved. And as far as he knows, he’s going to stay a Beast. A Beast that knows love, but a Beast nonetheless.
I’ve been reflecting lately on vulnerability in my life, somewhat inspired by a fabulous TED talk by Brené Brown (this is my second blog post raving about her; she’s that good). I want to be brave enough to offer love, even if I’m the first to do so and there are no guarantees, even if I remain beastly.
But the spell makes me wonder about the other side of relationships, of returning love offered to you. Unlike the majority of Disney films where the heroine is saved by the prince, Belle’s love rescues the Beast, not just from physical deformity, but from the uncertainty and fear that vulnerability brings.
Vulnerability, says Brené Brown, is the birthplace of joy. This joy flows out of relationship, of people being honest with each other. Belle’s returned love is affirming and encouraging to the Beast. It’s a beautiful gift.
I wonder where love has been offered to me and I have not reciprocated in the fullest way that I could, where I didn’t realize that my holding back kept another trapped in deformity. I wonder where my beastliness has resulted in someone’s story remaining unfinished, still waiting for the spell to break.
It’s as much for others' sake as our own that we love.
Abi is a dreamer, a writer, and a sucker for fairy tales and sassy heroines. She blogs on art and good people at www.offthefrontporch.wordpress.com.