Introduction To Cultural Studies: Fairytales
February 27th, 2015
Beauty and The Beast
, Symbolism of History
When we are told about a tale as old as time,
Beauty and The Beast is typically the first story to come to mind. In the Disney movie we are shown events happening that symbolize common events for the French in the mid 1700s. Many areas are covered in this movie that were considered normal in the 1700’s to people and their reactions to what they considered to be abnormal that had to be overcome in their due time. The three ideas that the movie emphasize that sticks out as major points of representation would be lack of education, arranged marriage, and war.
In the mid 1700s reading was starting to make its impression on the French society, at least in the upper class French society. A majority of rural areas remained unable and unwilling to learn to read. In the beginning of
Beauty and the Beast, most people called Belle strange and odd because she enjoyed to read. Even Gaston throws her book into a puddle of mud, and tells her how she should not be wasting her time reading. This shows how the rural areas of France did not care for books the way the upper class did in France. When the library in the Beast’s castle is shown in the middle of the movie, it shows how progressive and open minded the upper class is starting to be.The upper class had more time to enjoy reading and participating in different kinds of activities. While the lower class was always working and did not have the luxury of enjoying those kinds of things. Even though the upper class and lower classes had their differences, there were some traditions they all shared, one of those traditions was arranged
marriage. Arranged marriage was considered very typical for people of any class. However, marriage to individual outside of one’s class and/or for love was very odd.
Arranged marriage was beyond common in the 1700s, and marrying for love was known as odd. In the movie we see Gaston going to propose to Belle; he has wedding prepared and everything for the second she says yes so they can be wed. In France men of Gastons social status or achievements would have any woman under, in, and maybe one step above his class more than willing to marry him. He is the figure being “respected” in the community because he shows the ability to provide and protect for people. As for Belle, she has more of a progressive way of thinking than most people of that time did. She wanted to marry someone who shared the same curiosity of life she did, and that she truly had a connection with. As if she needed another reason for people to think she was odd in the 1700s but, she stuck to her guns and was never afraid to tell Gaston no to a marriage proposal. She knew the life he would give her, was not the life she wanted. As for the Beast, he was different from males from this time period, not only because he had to find true love, but because he married someone of a lower class. The Beast maybe scary, but from what he owns, he has a very high social standing. The mid 1700s was on the verge of change in France with the revolution about to take place, and
Beauty and the Beast shows how people were less willing to conform to what everyone wanted them to be. Belle loved the Beast and this caused people to riot and destroy the Beast, because the fear of the unknown was starting to occur.
When war started in the late 1700s, it rooted down from fear and having no power.
People were scared of dying from starvation and having no power, because they did not have the money to have power. When the townspeople decided to attack the Beast, it was the same way the French decided to attack the King. They were scared something or someone with that much power would hurt them