Sunday, April 23, 2017

Life Lessons from Beauty and the Beast

There are times when you need to escape adult life. I did so recently by slipping off to see Beauty and the Beast. Beauty and the Best is the story of Belle and a prince of course. Belle is a young woman whose beauty is as much internal as it is external. Though beautiful and charming, Belle is a bit of an oddball in the village. She and her widowed father Maurice live together in a town inhabited by people who are very traditional. The women are viewed as potential or dutiful wives. But Belle is woman of goals and ambitions. Much to the town folk’s dismay; Belle loves to read and dreams of life beyond her small town. 

Belle ignores the requests of the men in town who want her as a wife, especially the boorish soldier Gaston who is determined to win Belle’s affection. When Maurice sets out on his journey, he asks Belle what she wants him to bring her back. Her reply: a rose. Maurice gets lost and stumbles upon a dark castle. He unknowingly plucks a rose from a bush on the property of a hideous beast. The price for Maurice’s theft is lifetime imprisonment in the castle. But Belle finds her father and offers to trade places with him. He returns home. A friendship blossoms between Belle and the Beast who is really a Prince who has been cursed. 

When Gaston learns that he is competing against the Beast for Belle’s affection, he leads a group of angry townspeople to the castle to destroy the Beast. He manages to shoot the Beast before plunging to his death. As Belle cries over the body of the Beast confessing her love to him, the enchantress who turned him into a Beast turns him back into the Prince and well, you know the rest. They lived happily ever after.

And even though it was your typical Disney Princess movie, I liked the modern elements of diversity and an independent Belle. As the movie ended, I thought about the lessons the movie imparted for me. 

1.      Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The beggar woman offered the Prince a rose in exchange for shelter, but he laughed at her and cast her off. The rose was not good enough for the Prince. It was his ingratitude that caused him to be turned into a Beast. The beggar was an enchantress in disguise who told the Prince that he would remain a beast until he learned to love and was loved in return. How many times do we take people’s kindness for granted because we want more than what they give?

2.      Be yourself; everyone is taken. Belle was comfortable in her skin even in the face of ridicule and adversity. The villagers didn’t understand the strange girl who liked to read, and who rebuffed potential suitors like they were The Plague. But Belle remained true to herself and it worked out for her in the end. Are you trying to be an imitation of someone else’s expectations or are you being your authentic self?

3.      Don’t settle. Belle didn’t know where she was going or what she was going to do, but she knew that her small town couldn’t hold her big dreams. She dreamed of something different—something better. Have you put your dreams on hold or stopped dreaming altogether? Why?

4.      Don’t follow the crowd. In an effort to make himself the hero of the day and deflect from the cad that he really was, Gaston convinces the townspeople that the Beast was evil. That he had Belle under a spell and needed to be destroyed. He led the villagers to the castle to kill the Beast. When have you gone along to get alone even though you knew your gut told you something different?

5.      Be brave. Belle never cowered. Not before the town’s people, or Gaston or her first encounter with the Beast. She did not allow fear to stop her from moving forward. What is fear holding you back from?

Which of these lessons resonates with you? Tell me about it in the comment section.

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