I’ve been thinking more about stories, and how no tale is black-and-white. I’ve been trying to figure out Beauty and the Beast.
Obviously, it falls into the black-and-white approach to storytelling. There’s really no objectivity where Gaston is concerned, because the movie is from Belle’s perspective, and she hates his guts.
But we only see him as evil because it’s from her perspective. If Beauty and the Beast were told in a more objective manner, Gaston would be arrogant and annoying, yes, but not evil.
It was whilst I was contemplating deeply on this movie and its characters that a few plot holes smacked me across the face. Which was kind of devastating, because I love the heck out of this movie.
The fight between Gaston and Beast
First, we have to look at Gaston’s motivation for killing the beast. We know he was publicly humiliated when he set up a wedding for him and Belle and she rejected him in front of the entire village. Sure, Lefou pointed out all his manly strengths and he felt better, but he’s never fully recovered from that moment (which is why he’s still so determined to make Belle his bride).
Then, he discovers this beast. Though Belle assures everybody that he’s gentle and sweet, it’s not difficult to convince them otherwise. Gaston uses the magic mirror to show everybody the beast’s fangs and killer claws and such. The beast has to appear terrifying and dangerous to the village people, so that when Gaston defeats him, it will be truly impressive and restore his reputation. He tells the townsmen to pillage and plunder the castle to their heart’s content, “but remember, the beast is mine!”
We already know Gaston is a hunter, and uses antlers in all of his deeeeecorating, so killing this ferocious beast is totally his chipped cup of tea. All of this makes perfect sense, except for a few details.
When Belle shows them Beast with the magic mirror and pronounces him gentle, Gaston declares her “as crazy as the old man!” Then, when he’s convincing the townspeople to help him raid the castle, Belle says she won’t let him, and Gaston says, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us!” and locks her in the cellar with her “crazy” father.
When Gaston finds the beast, he gets frustrated because he won’t put up a good fight. Gaston wants a challenge, to properly recover his image in the eyes of the townsfolk. He begins to taunt the beast. “Were you in love with her, Beast?” he sneers. “Did you honestly think she’d want you, when she had someone like me?” That’s when Beast leaps out of the shadows and Gaston roars, “It’s over, Beast! Belle is mine!”
Why is he suddenly making this about Belle? This is totally opposite Gaston’s character, and here is why: he has denounced her as crazy in front of the entire village. She is now tainted. The whole reason he wanted her in the first place was because she was the most beautiful, which “makes her the best.” After calling her crazy and locking her in a cellar, he has publicly disgraced her, and marrying her would tarnish his own image. Thus, he cannot possibly want her now, so why is he making his fight with the beast about Belle?
Thus, either Belle’s perception of Gaston is off and he’s not as horrible as we thought, or…PLOT HOLE.
Beast at first seems just as much a jerk as Gaston.
Sure, Gaston’s arrogant, self-centered, and rude, but Beast has a horrible temper. Also, Gaston called Belle’s father crazy, but Beast actually imprisoned him in a cold dark cell.
“Yeah, but Beast is nice deep down,” you might argue. “He’s just bitter and mean and hard-hearted at first because he thinks no one will ever love him and he’ll have to be a beast forever. Belle’s love makes him better; plus, once you get to know him, he’s really sweet.” Well, you make some good points, Imaginary Opponent, but who’s to say Gaston is any different? Perhaps he, too, “improves upon closer acquaintance,” as good ol’ Lizzy Bennet would say. (Speaking of prejudice, Belle seems to have a problem in this area.)
Belle’s disgusted by Gaston’s ignorance and disdain of books that don’t even have pictures, but when she discovers Beast can’t read at all, she eagerly determines to teach him. What if she had been as open-minded with Gaston?
Maybe it’s just because she was trapped in a castle with the beast for what she thought was going to be the rest of her life. Maybe, if she was trapped in a castle with Gaston for a few months, she would have grown to love him too.
Again, the only reason we see Gaston as evil is because the movie is through Belle’s eyes. Gaston is probably not actually evil, and might not even be as arrogant and narcissistic as Belle thinks. It’s perfectly natural for a hunter to want to kill a fierce-looking beast, especially if he’s jealous. It’s also natural to want to redeem yourself in the eyes of your peers after your pride’s been hurt, not to mention protect your village. It looks evil because Belle loves the beast, so through her eyes, what Gaston’s doing is purely bad.
Maybe this isn’t true love or Stockholm syndrome, which half the internet is determined about. We know Belle wants “more than this provincial life.” Beast offers her this, whereas Gaston doesn’t. Maybe that’s the only reason she allows herself to love him.
I’m the worst.
Okay, let’s make something very clear: I am not on Gaston’s side. I don’t think he’s a great guy. I just think maybe there’s more to the story. And no, I’m not trying to ruin the movie.
I love Beauty and the Beast the way it is, and when I watch it, I enjoy the love story between Belle and Beast—whose real name, apparently, is Adam, although it never says that in the movie. What’s Belle’s nickname for him after he transforms? Man? Prince? Studmuffin?
Thank you for tuning in to this edition of Ruining Your Favorite Movies. Up next, It’s a Nonsensical Life. Knowing Uncle Billy’s incredible absentmindedness, why did George trust him with $8,000 in the first place? And did Mary ever smack Ernie in the head for pointing out the run on the bank and ruining their honeymoon? Join us next time, and remember: Not even the best ones are perfect!