With the new Beauty and the Beast movie out, there is a lot of talk about how weird the story is. Why did we all find the story so romantic when it is based on a case of Stockholm Syndrome?
But it isn’t. According to Wikipedia, Stockholm Syndrome consists of “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.”
And if you’ve ever watched the movie, you know that Belle doesn’t fall in love with the Beast when he is acting like a beast. She doesn’t start falling in love with him until he begins to change.
There’s the scene with the library…
Because, seriously, who would not fall in love when given something like that?
There is, of course, the whole “Something There” thing, which seems to cover a fair bit of time, and shows just how much the Beast is changing, and becoming a kind person.
When he is still mean, Belle refuses to come out of her room, even under the threat of starvation. She wasn’t in denial about who he was, and what he was like. She was curious, that much is shown when she is in the West Wing, looking at the shredded portrait of the prince.
But when Beast came in and started shouting at her for being in the West Wing, she left. She didn’t try to reason with him, she didn’t try to flirt with him, she jumped on her horse and left.
Even after he rescues her from the wolves and they are back at the castle, she cares for him, as any decent person would, but doesn’t swoon at his feet. In fact, she lays the blame for her running away and the wolf attack squarely on him, telling him that ultimately, it’s his temper that caused the wolf bites.
That’s when he starts to realize that maybe he’s going about everything wrong.
Beast starts to change, not Belle. For the first time in his life, he understands what his pompous attitude does to other people. The curse didn’t make him understand it. The prologue says that even though he tried to apologize to the enchantress, she wouldn’t accept it, because she had seen that there was no love in his heart (and I don’t care what you say the live-action movie did better, the narrator on that doesn’t hold a candle to the original). He regretted the results of his actions, but not necessarily the actions. It was only when he learned to love that he began to change.
So Beauty and the Beast is above all a story of love (and books) overcoming the ingrained habits of a spoiled git.