So, how did the Beast learn his lesson?

I’ve already discussed how I think the punishment did not fit the crime in regards to the curse placed upon The Beast and his servants. So I won’t go into that again here. (If you want a refresher, read my Enchantress: Beautiful or Terrible post). However, regardless of the fairness of the sentence, the real question is did the Beast learn his lesson? I offer that he couldn’t have. And here is why…first we need to go back one more time to the stained glass prologue that opens the movie. The Beautiful Enchantress disguises herself as a haggard, old woman to perform her test upon the Young Prince. There are two really important adjectives about her that inform us as to the the nature of experiment being conducted: OLD & HAGGARD. From these critical descriptions we must believe that the appearance of the enchantress is of the utmost significance in understanding the nature of the Beast’s heart. He was ‘repulsed’ by her appearance and is even warned by the woman right before he fails that beauty is found ‘within.’ When this doesn’t sway him to see through her unattractiveness, he is cursed with becoming the thing he despises–ugliness. So it would make sense if he is cursed because he can only see beauty on the outside, the way to undo that curse is to be able to look past something that repulses him and see inner beauty, right? Wrong. He simply needs to find someone who is both beautiful on the outside AND the inside and get her to look past HIS ugliness. WHAT? So the the main character flaw that the Beast was being punished for has no bearing on how he finds redemption?Beauty & the BeastNow, don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to say that both lifting the curse and not learning his lesson at the same time would be easy. He may have had to break a few laws like kidnapping and imprisonment and maybe even need to feign innocence by pretending he didn’t remember how to use a spoon. But surely by the time Belle fell for him and lifted the curse, he would be able to see from her shining example how he should treat others? Unfortunately, that makes no sense. I am sure that the Young Prince was a beast to everyone around him long before he was physically turned into one. There were probably numerous people who were able to look past his horrible nature to love him and that never changed his heart back then. So why would this time be any different? Maybe if the Enchantress would have just appeared in her natural blonde-bombshell state and seen past his human-beastliness it would have saved everyone 10 years of pointless cursedness….

 

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Image Credit: disney.wikia.com

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18 comments

  1. I always enjoy these. My wife and I both analyze Disney movies as we are watching them. My daughter though is still more interested in “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” than in movies.

    1. I think as a parent it is the one thing that helps keep us semi-sane when we watch them over and over. Glad we are beyond the Clubhouse in our house…lots of questions there too like the lack of either pants or shirts on many of the characters…and it’s ok. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I think:

    In the movie, he is tearing portraits of himself apart – he hates himself!
    ‘You can’t love someone if you don’t love yourself’ and ‘ you can’t be loved if you don’t love yourself’.
    I think the ugliness he needs to break trough is his own. He needs to understand that ALL ‘creatures’ deserves love, respect and careness.
    When Bell starts to care for him, he understands this more and more, therefore he can start care for his surrounding and then fall in love.

    1. Yeah. Good point. But do you think that he tears the pictures of himself apart because it is unbearable for him to look at what he thinks he will never be again…human?

    2. I totally buy into this explanation….needing to recognize….understand and accept his past internal and current external ugliness is where the lesson lies.

  3. Learning your lesson doesn’t mean having the same situation happen again and making the right decision the second time. Beauty has its stigma too. Nobody in Belle’s town could see her for anything but her looks. The beast assumed someone as beautiful as her couldn’t love him. But they were all wrong. The beast is the first person who sees Belle for who she is on the inside. I guess the falling in love part was a bit unnecessary, but I think it made for a beautiful love story.

  4. I don’t think that the ability to see beauty is a factor in his redemption…it is the ability to love. Beforehand he didn’t love anyone, perhaps not even himself.
    The tricky part is the second factor – that Belle has to love him too. Again, I don’t think that Belle has to be beautiful, she just has to be someone who can see through the Beasts ugliness. The point in this is, I think, that the Beast is suppose to understand that true beauty comes from the inside by experiencing how it is to be judged based on his appearance…and that no matter how he looks like, this beauty can shine through. The part is a little bit unfair because the beast has no influence whatsoever on another persons ability to see behind the façade of things, but then, who said that lifting curses is an easy business?

    This is an ongoing theme in this movie…Belle is not only able to see through the Beast and sees his beauty (once there actually is some beauty to see), she is also able to see through Gaston and sees his ugliness, even before he totally goes off the rocker. The drawing style even underlines the theme, with Gaston becoming more beastly in appearance the more despicable his actions are, while the Beast looks more and more cuddly.

    1. I see your points but to me it still doesn’t make sense. He is being punished b/c he cannot see inner beauty. Sure, there is getting Belle to see through his ugliness and he has to see her inner beauty but he doesn’t have to really look past anything? Belle is beautiful on the inside and the outside. Maybe if she was more homely or deformed, I would be on board b/c to me that would show a change in the beast. To me, he is just tired of being cursed for 10 years and Belle is his get out of jail free card.

  5. Some people were mentioning it in the comments, but the point wasn’t whether the Beast could see or find physical beauty. True beauty lies on the inside, and he needed to learn that. The only way to learn that is through love. Belle really wasn’t his last chance though. She was his only chance. She was the one who could break the spell because she’s able to see beyond physical appearances, like with Gaston (she saw that although he’s handsome, he’s rude and conceded). But it wasn’t just the Beast’s physicality that frightened Belle. He was how he acted. That’s what really made him a monster, which later drove Belle away from the castle. It was then that the Beast realized he needed to change. He needed to show Belle that although he looks like a monster, he’s not. He has a good side. Once he starts to do that, the love story takes off.

    1. Good points. Always enjoy your comments! So, I posted this on Reddit and someone responded, “The lesson that is to be learned here is ‘Don’t piss off a fairy. Even if you don’t know they are a fairy.’ It goes back to my other post about the Enchantress being the true villain of the movie…which I think is true. You can make arguments for the validity of the test, but at the end of the day, I think it was just mean and overkill.
      I agree that Belle is the Beast’s only chance. Not sure if there is or ever will be another person that is held prisoner only to fall in love with a non-human creature. (excluding the whole Stockholm Syndrome argument) That is just kind of messed up. We can talk in metaphors but at the end of the day, Belle is weird. The whole ‘see past the beast to see his inner human’ is still a stretch no matter how good/nice he was. He is a giant lion/bear/boar creature…I am actually working on another post right now about that question as well.

      1. Lol, some of the points you make are things I hope to address when I get to Belle in my series too. đŸ™‚ But, in a nutshell, I don’t really her as a prisoner. There’s a whole song dedicated to how Belle is their guest. And I think you’re forgetting one critical element that makes the story…it’s fairy tale. Through real-life lens, of course falling in love with an animal (who starts to act like a human) isn’t normal. But in the fairy tale world, it helps to learn valuable lessons.

        With the Enchantress, I can see her as the true villain to the story. But at the same time, the Prince didn’t feel any remorse towards her. The narrator says that he was repulsed by her “haggard appearance” and “sneered at her gift.” He wasn’t like, “Oh, she looks suspicious so to protect myself and the people in the castle, I won’t let her in.” The point is he took no pity on her because of her looks. As a spoiled, selfish, and unkind brat, how could he? So, his punishment was pretty much, “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” Don’t judge people by appearances. It’s along the lines of the donkey scene in “Pinocchio.”

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