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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Disney Princess Analysis: Getting To Know Belle

My entire life, Belle has always been my absolute favorite princess. When I was just a toddler I dressed up like her for Halloween and when I got married, I even tried to find a dress that resembled her yellow gown (in white, of course).

In so many ways, Belle reminds me of myself. As someone who relates so closely to and identifies with Belle, I wanted to share my well-detailed analysis of her character.

1. Belle has experienced hardship. In the beginning of her opening "Belle" song, she says "Every morning just the same, since the morning that we came to this poor provincial town." Her father is an inventor so most likely, he was using a lot of his funds towards his inventions as most inventors did in their lives.

2. Belle is most likely one of the very few people, if not the only person, who reads in her town. This is shown when she talks to the baker who asks where she is off to. When Belle responds, "The book shop. I just finished the most wonderful story about a beanstalk and an ogre and.." he cuts her off with "That's nice." and stops paying attention to her, almost as if bringing up books was kryptonite. Add in the later line "And her nose stuck in a book" as though it were not normal behavior and we see this is one of the things that makes her different. Then, Belle gets to the book shop which is very small and looks to have really only 1 large wall of books and 2 half walls of books. (No wonder Belle read everything in there!) In addition, she seems to have a closer relationship with the owner of the book store (or librarian) than any of the other townspeople. When he points out that she's read a certain book twice already, either he has a great memory or he doesn't get many other customers.

3. Belle is friendly and not snobbish in the least. Most everyone else in Belle's town is just fine with living without much ambition. They don't care about the world that exists beyond their little town and they don't care much about expanding their knowledge, either. This is part of why Belle

3. Belle is a quick reader. "Good morning, I've come to return the book I borrowed." "Finished already" "Oh, I couldn't put it down! Have you got anything new?" "Ha. Not since yesterday."

4. Belle finds solace in books.
This one's obvious to all but I added it anyway. This is why she'll read the same books over. "That's all right. I'll borrow this one." "That one? But you've read it twice." "Well it's my favorite. Far off places, daring swordfights, magic spells, a prince in disguise." "If you like it all that much, it's yours." "But sir!" "I insist." "Well thank you. Thank you very much!"

Clearly she has a lot of time in this town where there is not much going on other than plain surviving. She doesn't want to live this way and I don't blame her.

5. Belle is adventurous and not indoorsy. I think that because Belle is so associated with books, that she often gets misunderstood as being an indoor-person when she's actually not. We know she is an outdoor person because when she does read, she chooses to read outside instead of inside. Also later in her reprise, she says the iconic line "I want much more than this provincial life. I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can tell." Someone who is indoorsy does not want adventure in the great wide more than anything else. Note that this line is delivered as she is literally running out into the outdoors, into the field and past the trees onto the top of the hill where she looks out at the river and hills. This entire reprise is sung outdoors (as is most of the first part near the beginning of the film).

6. Belle does not have a short temper and is actually very patient and polite. I think this is forgotten because of the way she interacts with the Beast but that is a specific case that is not representative of her demeanor in general. Whenever she is with Gaston, she is very self-controlled. He snatches her book out of his hand and she merely asks "Gaston, may I have my book, please?" in a very polite manner. When he asks "How can you read this? There's no pictures." She doesn't get rude and insult him, she just says "Well some people use their imagination." Even when he throws her favorite book into the mud, she does not yell or react to him. Gaston then completely degrades her by saying "It's not right for a woman to read. Soon she starts getting ideas and thinking." In the nicest way that she can, Belle responds "Gaston, you are positively primeval." That's a pretty decent response to someone who just said you shouldn't be allowed to think. Later when Gaston tries to push himself onto her, she rejects him in the absolute most polite way she possibly can. "I just don't deserve you."

7. Belle is far from superficial.
She is not impressed by Gaston's positive superficial aspects because she is too turned off by his genuinely negative aspects. If Belle married Gaston, she would have to give up everything that makes her who she is (reading, giving opinions, wanting to travel, etc.) and marry someone who is a dimwit but the most beloved man in town. Belle didn't care about popularity or image, she cared about substance. "Can you imagine? He asked me to marry him. Me, the wife of that boorish, brainless..."

8. Belle is optimistic and supportive. When she hears an explosion from her home and runs in, she finds her father distressed with his work. He says "I'm... I'm about ready to give up on this hunk of junk." To which she chuckles and responds "You always say that." but he persists "I mean it this time! I'll never get this boneheaded contraption to work!" Belle reassures him by saying "Yes you will. And you'll win first prize at the fair tomorrow. And become a world famous inventor." When he asks "You really believe that?" She answers, "I always have." This immediately gives her father the energy and encouragement he needed to get back to it. Also her saying "you always say that" and "I always have" shows that she has been most likely encouraging him for a long time. This is all despite the fact that they have had to downgrade in their living since he's been inventing.

9. Belle is a romantic deep down.
She asks her father if he thinks she is odd and tells him she doesn't fit in. She says "There's no one I can really talk to." and her father asks "What about Gaston? He's a handsome fella." (Because he understood she meant love.) Belle doesn't say "I'm not looking for a relationship or love." She says "He's handsome, all right, and rude and conceited and... Papa he's not for me." This shows that she is open to love and she does want someone to love and talk to but she hasn't met the right man yet and doesn't want to settle. Also, I think some people misunderstand her line about "little wife" in the reprise as meaning that she doesn't want to be a wife at all. This is not true, her "little wife" line is a rebuttal from Gaston's proposal earlier when he says to her "Do you know who that little wife will be?" He meant it as a derogative, which is why she rejected his "little wife" phrase. She's okay with being a wife, not "the little wife" of someone like Gaston.

10. Belle knows her self-worth, hence not wanting to settle with Gaston.
She is a smart young woman and Gaston is definitely not a smart man. Later in the film Gaston says "LeFou, I'm afraid I've been thinking." and LeFou responds to his face "A dangerous pastime" to which Gaston merely responds with an affirming nod, "I know." This shows that even he and his friend admit that he's not a bright guy (to each other). This also brings us back to why Gaston didn't want Belle to be reading, he was already intimidated by her as it was. Also later when Gaston offers to not send Belle's father away as long as she marries him, she responds "Never!". She would rather be a slave to the Beast to save her father's life then the slave of the brainless town jerk to save her father from an asylum.

11. Belle is brave and loyal but also impulsive. When her family horse, Philippe, returns without her father, Belle does not hesitate to go after him and find him. "We have to find him. You have to take me to him." is what she tells the horse immediately. This is a bit impulsive but he is her only family and she's not a majorly impulsive person. I think the fear and adrenaline got to her because she was so frightened for her father. She ventured into the woods alone just to find him. Although she could have gone to the townspeople, we see later that the townspeople don't really care about or respect Maurice enough to help Belle so most likely, she knew she was on her own anyway. Also later when she knows Gaston went to kill the Beast, she hurries to warn and save him. She even saves him from falling off of the cliff after Gaston stabs him.

12. Belle values family above all. When Belle does find her father, he tells her to leave but she says "I won't leave you." This is because she cannot just leave him locked in a prison. Although this was disobeying him, it wasn't for disobedience sake or from a purely self-centered place. This came from a place of concern and love for her father. Also, later in the film after she has started to fall in love with the Beast, she still cannot get her father off her mind. She is so worried about her father dying in the cold that she leaves to rescue him, giving up on this relationship that had been developing.

13. Belle says what she means and means what she says. Knowing her father could die in the cell, she begs to the Beast "Please, I'll do anything." Then she offers to take her father's place as prisoner. She made sure that if the Beast took the deal, he would let her father go. This was another impulsive move on her part as her father was already old and had lived his life as he said, too late.

14. Belle is a very curious person. Even though the Beast forbids her from going into the West Wing and Lumiere and Cogsworth bribe her with the library, her curiosity wins out. This would be another impulsive move on her part, as well as running away when the Beast caught her. She's also clearly a curious (and impulsive) person through her actions of removing the glass case that protected the enchanted rose just before she tries to touch it.

15. Belle is willing to stand up for herself and others when she needs to. After the Beast sent away her father without letting her say goodbye, Belle refuses to have dinner with him. Also later when she takes care of the Beast after he saves her from the wolves, she stands up to him again. When he says "That hurts!" she responds "If you'd hold still, it wouldn't hurt as much!" He then counters with "If you hadn't run away this wouldn't have happened." to which she stands her ground and responds "Well if you hadn't frightened me then I wouldn't have ran away!" He reminds her "Well you shouldn't have been in the West Wing!" and she responds "Well, you should learn to control your temper!" Whenever anyone calls her father crazy, Belle sticks up for him. Also later when she is talking to Gaston and Gaston tells her that he thinks she has feelings for the "monster", she stands up for him by saying "He's no monster, Gaston. You are!" She also tries to stop him from going after the Beast but he locks her up first.

16. Belle is a very nurturing, warm, kind and grateful person. After the Beast saves her from a pack of wolves, nearly dying in the process, Belle chooses to save the Beast in return instead of leaving him to die. Not only does she return him to the castle, but she also actually takes care of him. When he gets aggressive and lashes at her, she stands her ground. After an exchange, [see #14] Belle changes her tone and says more softly to the Beast "Now, hold still. This might sting a little... By the way, thank you for saving my life." and this allows him to let her dress his wounds. It was this gratitude and attitude that helped completely change the dynamic between these two characters. She even defends the Beast to her father later after she rescues him. She tells him that he's different and that "he changed somehow". She also goes on to defend the Beast against Gaston and all of the townspeople. She describes the Beast as "kind and gentle. He's my friend." Gaston immediately recognizes the love in her voice and eyes even before she does.

17. Belle is a very accommodating, respectful and balanced person; Willing to meet others halfway who deserve it. This is shown when she sees that the Beast is making an effort by trying to use a spoon that he hasn't used in many years. She sees this and then tries to make the Beast comfortable by ditching her spoon and drinking her soup instead. She shows him a kindness and makes him a better person by trying to meet him in the middle and help him along his process of becoming more civilized. She even teaches him to feed the birds which helps him to be more gentle.