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Beauty & the Beast (Archetypal Criticism)
Transcript of Beauty & the Beast (Archetypal Criticism)
Beauty & The Beast
Archetypes in Symbols
Archetypes in Characters
Belle is the archetypal heroine of Beauty and the Beast. She sacrifices herself in exchange for her father’s release from the Beast and promises to stay with him forever. In the end, she also saves the Beast from his grotesque, beast-like form. As a heroine, Belle proves to possess both typical qualities of intelligence and bravery
Belle is the representation of beauty. She is innocent, young and beautiful. She is perceived by her fellow villagers as the most beautiful girl around. She attracts attention from men wherever she goes and many men lusts for her and wants her hand in marriage. However, as the Beauty, she is the cause of conflict between two prominent male characters (the Beast and Gaston), who would fight over her.
Gaston is the archetypal representation of evil and shadow in the movie. This antagonist wants to hunt down and to kill the Beast in order to marry Belle. His main motivations are jealousy (of Belle’s love for the Beast), selfishness, and ambition (to prove himself superior to a beastly creature). He also serves as the threshold guardian archetype. Gaston can be defined as a gateway obstacle that the hero/heroes (Belle and the Beast) have to overcome in order to prove themselves worthy. The role of a threshold guardian or Gaston in this case, is to test Belle’s and the Beast’s faithfulness and love for each other, and to show that the overall journey to achieving their goal will not be easy.
Mrs. Potts is the archetypal motherly figure of a caring character. She provides emotional support and nourishment to the heroes and other characters. For example, she welcomes Belle’s father and helps him get comfortable although he is the prisoner. She comforts Belle and makes her feel at home during her stay at the castle. She serves as both a servant and mother to the Beast by carrying out her duties and taking care of the Beast.
Belle also serves as the Mentor archetype in the story. She helps guide and steer the Beast toward a path of kindness and shows him ways to properly treat people. Through her, the Beast learns how to love, what it feels like to be loved and accepted for who he is, respect and kindness towards others. Belle brings out the hidden beauty of his soul and heart.
Chip Potts is the innocent youth archetype. He is the little son of Mrs. Potts who got transformed into a teacup. He is Belle’s close friend who looks up to her and tries to learn her good characteristics. At the same time, he can be mischievous and gets admonished by his mother for his immaturity, thus displaying aspects of innocent youth.
The Beast’s tragic flaw is his defiance of moral standards and godly request, which causes his initial downfall. The Beast was a pampered, self-centered prince who lived for no one but for his own benefits. The godly figure is the Enchantress who requests of him for a stay at his castle during a one winter night. Because the Beast shunned her for her repulsive appearance, she punished him by transforming him into an ugly beast.
Archetypes in Situations/ Hero's Journey
Belle dreams of leaving her monotonous village life to go on an adventure. That is achieved when Maurice, her father, is imprisoned at the Beast’s castle. Belle hears of the news and sets out to the castle to rescue her father.
Call to Adventure:
This is the point where Belle crosses into a field of adventure, leaving her ordinary world and venturing into a new unknown realm. This occurs when Belle arrives at the Beast’s castle and is made an eternal captive there. She has to leave her home, village, friends, and her father.
In the middle of Belle’s stay at the Beast’s castle, she makes an abrupt decision to return home after seeing her father’s struggle back at the village. A short time after, she realizes that she had just broken her promise with the Beast and returns to the castle. She returns just in the nick of time to save the Beast from a near- heartbreak.
Road of Trials:
The ultimate moment when the Beast enters the “belly of the whale” is his appearance at the ballroom. To reflect his early, vulgar personality, the Beast is portrayed shirtless with shaggy hair. However, after falling in love with Belle and inviting her to a ballroom dance, he refines his dress-style. His clothes and overall appearance are groomed and disciplined to reflect his change in personality.
Belly of the Whale:
Crossing the First Threshold:
The Beast experiences a death of his heart when Belle leaves him two times. The first time, he loses his temper and scares Belle off into the forest. The Beast regrets miserably and goes to seek for Belle. The second time, the remaining rose petals are about to fall off, but in order to fulfill Belle’s happiness, the Beast re-experiences the death of his very being to grant Belle her freedom.
The Beast succeeds in finding a beautiful girl who is willing to love him for who he is. Belle confesses her love to him and as a result, the curse is broken and the Beast is transformed back into a handsome Prince.
The Ultimate Boon:
Freedom to Live & Refusal of Return:
Now that good has prevailed over evil, Belle and the Prince get married and they live happily ever after. As promised, Belle remains at the castle, by the Prince’s side for the remains of time.
In the beginning of the movie, the setting is at a happy, light-filled village where both the people sing and birds chirp in delight. This symbolizes peace. On the other hand, the forest and castle are dark, gloomy, and eerie. This symbolizes a sense of mystery and evil, and therefore entering into his realm of darkness would mean a change of fate for the protagonist. At the end of the movie, after the curse has been broken, the castle becomes bright and grandiose to show a change from a place of imprisonment to a harmonious place of happiness.
Light vs. Dark:
The magic mirror represents the magic weapon. It serves as a spying contraption by allowing its user to see any occurrence from elsewhere. The Beast uses the mirror to trace Belle’s whereabouts. The mirror falls in Gaston’s hands and he, too uses it to look for the Beast. Belle looks in this mirror to see that her father is growing ill at home.
The Magic Weapon:
- Gaston wears a red outfit. The color red often symbolizes bloodthirsty, anger, physical stimulation, and a violent passion for something. This reflects Gaston, who is sadistic and evil.
- The Beast’s ballroom outfit is blue. This symbolizes a sense of depth, truth, spirituality, and innocence. This reflects his refined personality where he learns of kindness and love.
- Belle’s maiden dress is white and blue. The color white represents purity, peace, morality, and innocence. It is undeniable that Belle reflects these characteristics for she is generous, loving, and pious.
The enchanted rose petal in a crystal container is the archetypal symbolism of the hourglass or the passage of time. The Beast must earn the love of Belle before the last petal falls in order to break the spell.
By: Katy Huynh