Sunday, September 27, 2009

Beauty & the Beast: YA Novel Character Study

Back in August, Frankie wrote a brilliantly-inspired post on Aladdin asking - what if he were a character in a YA novel? Then she followed up with a post on Ariel, everyone's favorite mermaid. That's when I knew: it was Belle's turn. (I can recite Beauty & the Beast, so this is pretty awesome.)

What do we know about Belle? She lives in a "poor, provincial town" in France. She wants "adventure in the great wide somewhere" -- more than she can stand. She's a voracious reader (yay!) and doesn't fit in with the townsfolk...despite her beauty. She has a lovably inept inventor father, and it's clear she takes care of him. (Let's not even start with my beef on the lack of mothers in Disney fairy tales.)

But what are we missing? What would make her a fully fleshed-out YA character?

For starters, did she ever know her mother? What sparked her love of reading? Was that her mother's hobby? Did she ever care about what people thought of her? Was she ever shallow? (I doubt it.) And how did she become so independent and strong-willed? What spurred her desire for adventure?

She mentions that she and her father moved to that town -- where did they live before? Was she a city girl? Did she like her old home? Why doesn't she have any friends her own age? Had she ever had a crush on a boy from town? Doesn't anyone else read? (Seriously, she couldn't be the only person keeping that town bookstore in business!) And she seems to talk/sing to animals (sheep, chickens, horses) with alarming regularity -- when did that start? (PS - WHAT is with Disney princesses talking to animals?!)

One thing I love about Belle is her strong will. She politely (but pointedly) rejects Gaston's presumptuous proposal. And she's fearless: when her father's horse Phillipe returns without him, does she run to the men in town for help? Nope, she immediately rides off into dark woods to save him. And enters a creepy castle at night. And willingly trades her freedom for her father's, fully expecting to spend the rest of her life in a damp dungeon. When the beast orders her to dinner, she refuses (again, politely -- Miss Manners would be proud!), despite his fury.

* Alright, I must interject here to mention a big issue with this movie. The beast is pretty abusive. He yells -- a lot -- and is darn near physically violent. And she eventually forgives him and falls in love and he turns from a lion to a kitten. Yes, in theory this is problematic. But honestly, I never really cared. End of aside.

Beauty & the Beast is wonderful because Belle does the vast majority of the saving. She saves both her father and the beast twice. She's confident, kind, curious, forgiving, and sassy. She tries to fight off wolves, for goodness sake! Wolves! Not to mention a whole town hell-bent on killing the love of her life. And she's totally not intimidated by the beast's scary appearance, either. (Thankfully, he has servants to deal with the shedding.) This is a chick who stands her ground, says "please" and "thank you," and saves the day -- with a book in hand and looking gorgeous.

'Nuff said.

Stay tuned for a character study on Gaston -- everyone's favorite conceited, dumb jock villain!


  1. This was really interesting. I can recite B&B too. People get mad at me when we watch it cause I am just sitting there doing everyone's lines ;)

  2. I love Beauty & The Beast! Belle was awesome in this Disney movie, also very pretty and I love all the songs <3 Oh and if you didn't know Snow White is supposed to come out on DVD I believe in October :) Can't wait to buy that one!

  3. Love it! Also loved this movie. Ah....Disney movies. Made me so happy. Can't wait till my kids are olde enough to watch them!

  4. I love these Disney Character Studies-keep them coming!

  5. Thanks all! Glad you enjoyed reading!

  6. This was another fun post. Ahhh, I love Belle. I never thought about her this way, great point of a strong heroine.

  7. One of my favorite Disney character,my little daughter wants Belle too! Thanks for showing up such fabulous information. I have bookmarked you and will remain in line with your new posts.

    Ann@Blogging E-books


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