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The biggest difference that I noticed between the French version of Beauty and the Beast and the Disney version is the Disney version’s character development. In the French version, it talks about Beauty’s story and how she had to leave her father and fall in love with a beast to break this old curse. The characters consist of Beauty, her dad, her sisters, a little of her brothers, and the beast. Her sisters never develop into more than spoiled brats and her brothers have one role and that’s to try to tell her not to leave. He father is the reason she had to go in the first place and the beast is her consequence of sacrifice and the falling action of the story. In the Disney version, the writers focus on how Belle gets to be in the Beast’s clutches, but the main point is the story of the Beast and his servants who have been cursed. There is no mention of these servants in the French story but in the Disney version they are used to help develop the characters of Belle and Beast to get them to the point that they can love each other. In the French version, there is no build up to the love. They are just all of a sudden in love.
I think the major message of the Disney film is that Beauty is not only on the outside and is most important on the inside. Gaston and Beauty are the hottest people in the town and the biggest difference is their personality on the inside. Gaston is an ass and self-centered so he dies at the end. Belle is a generous, loving person and ends up living happily ever after. The beast is ugly on the outside but becomes a very gentle and loving creature towards Belle and as a result his curse is broken and he gets to live happily ever after. This, not so subtly, tells me that the point of the story is that the most important quality of a person is who they are on the inside.
I can see how Zipes views the characters as stereotypical but I do not agree that there is no character development. In Beauty and the Beast when Belle gets to the beast’s castle she is horrified by the Beasts ugliness but in the end she falls in love with him. To get to that point she would have had to change somehow and that is character development. She is not a damsel in distress because she sacrifices herself to save her father and makes the most of her time in the castle. Yes, the Beast saved her from the wolves when she ran away but she stood up to him when he lost his temper afterwards.
As for the cleaning aspect and 19th century value, all of the servants in the castle got turned into the tools they used to use in their jobs. The wardrobe does not clean. The chest does not clean. The stove does not clean. They are servants. Some of their jobs are to clean but not all of them did that. I felt that the servants were put there to help develop the characters of Belle and the beast.
I do not agree that the power remains in the hands of the wealthy man either. Belle got her prince but she changed the beast. He started being nicer and using a spoon for her. She has a lot of influence over him and I believe that she has the power here, not the beast. He does not even get a name.
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