Lessons From Beauty and the Beast

My thoughts have been on this timeless film for the past couple days….

It’s heroine is someone who could see beyond the looks of those around her to see what they’re really like inside….

The characters were charming and beautiful with personalities all their own . .

The villain is someone who was everyone’s favorite guy but was filled to the brim with pride (and as Belle stated to her father, “Yes, he’s handsome. And arrogant. And self conceited.”).

And the hero…buried beneath fur, claws, paws, and a temper, slowly learned what it meant to really love someone.

And when I say he learned to really love…I mean it. When one is willing to give up what they want for what is best for the one they care for….well, that’s love. Love is self-sacrificing; not hording.

When Belle looked through the mirror, and saw her father sick and lost, and knew she needed to go to him, the Beast showed the true love in his heart by letting her go. He knew there was a chance that she would never return. That she might not  fully learn who he was inside and love him back if she wasn’t there…but he did what he knew was best for her. The best thing for her was to go to her father. And he loved her enough to let her go.

All I could think of when I saw that scene was ‘Wow’. There’s a piece of REAL LOVE right there in this Disney animation. It was so refreshing. And she came back as soon as possible because she loved–not what she saw–but what she knew was beneath the rough surface. And it wasn’t love at first sight. The two despised each other through out the first half of the film (the Beast probably wouldn’t have had anything to do with her except that his servants kept insisting that he should at least try to win her over if they ever wanted to be humans again; so he tried, since he was responsible for those under him as well). But once she was able to set aside her sharp tongue and he was able to calm his temper, they began to see who each other were really like beyond the surface. And that led to something deeper.

The film has some major, major problems. Let me go down a rabbit trail by saying that I don’t like magic at all, but I was thankful that the majority of the magic told was in the prolouge in narration form, with only stain glass windows showing what transpired to make the prince a beast. There are other parts of the ‘magic’ being shown through out the film (the mirror, the rose, and the transformations at the end), but as it wasn’t peppered through out the entire things, it didn’t bother me to a large extreme like some other films I’ve seen or heard about.

But for once it protrayed something that many movies do not. Many movies portray falling in love with handsome young men at first sight–not knowing a thing about them or who they are, what they’ve done…or even not caring what they’ve done before. The girls love what they see on the outside but they don’t stop to think of what he might be like on the inside. This is portrayed in Beauty and the Beast; all the other girls in the village go nuts over Gaston (And they’re rather immodest too, so, if you’re a young man and you happen to watch the film, a study of the ceiling would be in order). If you just listen to what the three girls in the film sing…”Look there..he goes. Isn’t he dreamy? Monsieur Gaston. Oh, he’s so cute. He’s stealed.. my heart. I’m hardly breathing. . . ” it’s just terrible how they only see the outside and not look into what Gaston believes or holds dear (which is basically himself).

Belle did.

And I pray that I will be able to, too. Even if the man I marry doesn’t look handsome, or muscular, or wonderful. Maybe he’ll have frightening scars or startling features. But I will marry him because what I see inside of him is good and God honoring. He and I will be just right for each other. I will know if he is the one God picked for me. And that will be what matters.

And, who knows. I might just learn how to love the claws and jaws too . . .

And before I end, I want to leave you with the prolouge to this beautiful story; probably one of the few romances I will ever love.

Once upon a time in a far away land, a young prince lived in a shining castle. Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was spoiled, selfish and unkind.

But then, one winter’s night, an old beggar woman came to the castle and offered him a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold. Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift and turned the old woman away, but she warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty was found within. And when he dismissed her again, the old woman’s appearance melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress. The prince tried to apologize, but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart, and as punishment, she transformed him into a hideous beast and placed a powerful spell on the castle and all who lived there.

Ashamed of his monstrous form, the beast concealed himself inside his castle, with a magic mirror as his only window to the outside world. The rose she had offered was truly an enchanted rose which would bloom until his twenty-first year. If he could learn to love another and could earn their love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time.

As the years past, he fell into despair, and lost all hope, for who could ever learn to love a beast?

~Jamie Joyce

PS. If you ever get a chance to hear the soundtrack, take it, for it’s one of the best. It’s enchanting, beautiful, and lovely. The themes are distinct and the songs great fun!