What if Beauty was the Beast?

Disney’s formulae of yore have always functioned like a well oiled machine - the ingénue, the gallant and noble hearted hero, the doting yet hapless father, the jealous sisters/stepsisters, the protective brothers, good vs evil, and the not-so-subtle didactic message that serves as the thematic veil of the story, have all left countless generations of smitten parents and children happy and sated. 

With the live action remake of Disney favourite Beauty and the Beast having hit the theatres to wide acclaim, the movie continues to be the talk of the town. Beauty and the Beast remains a favourite for many reasons, one of the reasons being that it switched up the damsel in distress model and decided the Beast was the one needing 'saving', albeit deciding to keep the age old, cookie cutter heroine with a disproportionately sized head, large, almond shaped eyes, a button nose, small mouth, flowing locks, tiny waist and tiny feet; made of sugar, spice and everything nice. 

Infatuation with good looks and pretty boys notwithstanding, the Prince in this story was cursed and subsequently metamorphosed into a hideous beast. The lesson to be derived from this story is that beauty is only skin deep. As long as the man is the "ugly" one, that is. 

Originally penned by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, the fairytale has had several retellings, with abridged versions of the story published by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont and Andrew Lang. The initial version tells a compelling story - that the Beast had snubbed the love of an "unattractive" fairy who fell in love with him. In recompense, the fairy cursed him, leaving him imprisoned in the body of not only a hideous beast, but also a dimwitted one incapable of holding a simple conversation. An ironic punishment meted out indeed, all things considered, but nevertheless a glaring and oft untold plot twist. 

Belle isn’t your average Disney movie heroine; she’s erudite, her nose always buried in books. Certainly, superficiality may not be high on her list when picking out an ideal male partner. A fact that stood out as she continuously dismissed the advances of the dashing Gaston. Unsurprisingly, Belle falling in love with the frightening Beast has been attributed to various factors. Many have alluded causation to the Stockholm Syndrome, which Emma Watson, star of the movie denied when asked by reporters. "It’s such a good question and it’s something I really grappled with at the beginning; the kind of Stockholm Syndrome question about this story… Belle actively argues and disagrees with (Beast) constantly. She has none of the characteristics of someone with Stockholm Syndrome because she keeps her independence, she keeps that freedom of thought" she explained. 

Many are the tales that feature the "unattractive/grotesque hero" - Cyrano de Bergerac, The Frog Prince, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera a few among many. In shocking contrast, cases in which the female has been "unsightly" are few and far between in texts, The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle being a better known one. Interestingly, Sir Gawain marries the "ugly hag" not because of love, but as an act of sacrifice. To reiterate, he considered the act of marrying an ugly woman an act of selflessness. Fancy that. 

But the fact remains - if roles were reversed and Belle was the Beast, would the Prince still have fallen for her? We asked people and here’s what they had to say. 

Hazma 

I'd like to believe that love is more than just what meets the eye, and if the roles were reversed the story would go exactly the same. That a Prince Charming would fight for her, not because of what she looks like but because of who she is. 

Tash 

That's why they say beauty is only skin deep. What matters is who you are rather than how you look... isn't it? 

Julaine 

If Beauty was the Beast, a Prince Charming will come after her because she is rich and has a big castle not for true love. If not, she would be lonely and miserable. So we find men who would love a woman if she looked like a beast. Even if he did, will a man have the courage to defend her and bring her out to the society. In this 21st century, a woman needs to be either rich or good looking to survive. If you’re beautiful but poor, men will be like "who cares, her beauty will make me shine more". If she is ugly but rich, men will be like "who cares she is rich". But of course, not all men. 

Gabriel 

You know what? Beauty, although a beauty from the outside was a bit of a beast inside, as she was 'different' from the rest in the town.... but the Beast, although a beast from the outside was a beauty on the inside.., through his obedience to his servants and his want to set them right and stop suffering as a result if his own mistakes... When their paths crossed, they managed to bring out the best in each other... making them 'normal' as defined by society… This happens in individuals lives daily depending on whom we associate. It truly is a tale as old as time.... 

Manaal 

The underlying theme would remain exactly the same - selfless love is powerful magic. At the same time, it would perhaps carry a stronger message and of course she won't need any help too woo Prince Charming. She'd have her feminine wiles. The plot would take a more romantic slant and maybe she will be harder to win over as she carries the burden of guilt for being the cause for the curse. A woman is naturally more wary. 

Oliver 

 

A ten blade BIC razor will do. Veet shampoo is also another option. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rihaab Mowlana

Foodie • Bona-fide expert on Harry Potter universe • proud Slytherin • Unapologetic know-it-all • Keyboard warrior • Occasionally sarcastic • Incessant retweeter • Self proclaimed funny girl • twitter.com/ReeMowlana

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