The Tale as Old as Time is Put to the Test

Emma Watson nabbed her claim to fame through the Harry Potter films, playing the muggle-born witch Hermione Granger. However, she has more recently been making headlines for her work as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Her newest leading role is that of Belle in Disney’s remake of Beauty and the Beast.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Emma Watson argued against the suggestions that the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast portrays an abusive relationship, or more specifically, displays signs of the mental phenomenon known as Stockholm Syndrome.

            Chances are high that Stockholm Syndrome was mentioned briefly in your high school psychology textbook, but here’s a quick refresher if your mind is drawing a blank: the Encyclopedia Britannica defines it as “the psychological response wherein a captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands”. Watson shot down the connection. Though the character Belle is certainly held prisoner in the tale, Watson points out that she is in no way a complacent prisoner. Belle “keeps her independence of mind”, Watson points out, proving that she will not bend her will despite the unsavory circumstance.

            The issue has been raised as parents question what kind of example the love story sets for their children. Does Belle submit herself to an abusive relationship? The Beast controls when, where, and what she eats. As his prisoner, she is not allowed to leave his castle. And yet, they fall in love. Does this send a message that it’s okay to stay in an abusive relationship?

            In response, Watson points out the slow steps taken to build a relationship between Belle and the Beast. Belle never “gives in” or submits to demands, but consistently defies the Beast until the develop a friendship that places them on more equal grounds. It is after this friendship is established that the two “slowly, slowly, slowly, very slowly” fall in love. Watson even argues that this story offers a different take on the typical love-at-first-sight fairytale in which a young woman often sacrifices all she can to be with a man she’s just met.

            Overall, it seems the revamped movie is getting even more love from fans the second time around. Get your popcorn ready.