Beauty Within the Beast
All of my memories of the Magic of Disney are found in the stories, movies, and lessons taught by each Character and their lives. One of the first movies to touch my heart was Beauty and the Beast. The tale of a young, beautiful, spirited woman named Belle, who accepted with confidence that she was different in many ways from the people around her. Then we meet Prince Adam, most well known as, The Beast. This character is what creates the story.
Anyone who has seen any interpretation of “Beauty and the Beast,” knows the story begins with an old woman, looking for shelter during a storm. When she gets to the castle, she is turned away by the Prince. This arrogant mistake causes the witch to cast a curse upon the Prince and his palace, that he wears the ugliness of his heart on his skin, for all to see, only ending when he receives “True Love’s Kiss.” This curse cascades throughout his palace transforming all his servants and workers into the item they are most connected to in their daily chores. Here begins the tale of finding Beauty Within the Beast.
The tone is set by the inability to see past the surface and deeper into the heart of another. This theme runs rampant throughout most of Disney. We can see it in how the Settlers of Pocahontas treat the Natives, and in movies like Cinderella, in how the Evil Step-mother treated the title character. The theme of Unconditional Love is popular with Disney, not surprising; however, when they work so hard to promote genuine equality. However, back to Beauty and the Beast.
Belle meets the Beast, and though the original meeting is… less that joyous, she begins to get to know him, see him for what is beyond his, more than aggressive, exterior. She learns that he is a sweet, caring, protective, and intelligent creature. Something that people didn’t get to notice the Prince when he was “beautiful,” perhaps because it wasn’t something he shared, yes, but unnoticed non-the-less. As Belle and the Beast get closer and closer emotionally, love begins to spring from within them, leading to the long-awaited “True Love’s Kiss.” Which breaks the old woman’s curse, freeing the Prince from his beastly exterior. What this story teaches, is not just “True Love Conquers All,” but that UNCONDITIONAL Love Conquers All. Love is only True, when it is Unconditional, after all. Think about the greatest love in your life. Was it from a parent, who you genuinely felt loved you? What about a pet? What about a Soulmate? Now, what about a BEST FRIEND? Love is only True when it is Unconditional.
So, what IS Unconditional Love? Well, let’s look at Disney for examples. Sticking to Beauty and the Beast. Let’s start with the servants. They were cursed along with the Prince, but in the movie, you can hear how they all speak so highly of him. They are aware of his habit to be prideful, but they all love him, they all genuinely want him to find love, not only so the curse ends, but because he needs it to be happy. Second, Belle trades her life, for her father’s. To set him free, she agrees to be the prisoner, this is iconic unconditional love. The ability to care for another’s well-being over one’s own. What is so important about unconditional love though? Well, it is the foundation of true happiness.
In Beauty and the Beast, it becomes apparent that Belle and everyone could be completely happy together, even if the curse never broke. We see this in the general upbeat behavior in the characters, and the willingness to just BE together. This is why Unconditional Love is so important, it allows for all people to be together, united, and cohesive without judgment of each other. We can see that idea portrayed so gracefully in many Disney tales, where different walks of life find common ground and therefore love for one another. What makes this so Magical, is that acknowledging the inherent and natural unique Beauty within each and every person, regardless of their outward appearance can only bring us happiness and light, where closed minds and shut eyes, only keep us within the dark. The dark confines, of a castle, built on superficiality. What wonders could have been waiting had the Beast welcomed in the old woman, and what misery would have been in store had Belle NOT seen the Beauty within the Beast?
When in any Disney story did Love lose against Hate? In what story is someone better for NOT seeing the Beauty Within the Beast?
Sean Michael Rutherford