“The hill, crowned with wood, from which they had descended, receiving increased abruptness from the distance, was a beautiful object. Every disposition of the ground was good; and she looked on the whole scene — the river, the trees scattered on its banks, and the winding of the valley, as far as she could trace it — with delight. As they passed into other rooms, these objects were taking different positions; but from every window there were beauties to be seen. The rooms were lofty and handsome, and their furniture suitable to the fortune of their proprietor; but Elizabeth saw, with admiration of his taste, that it was neither gaudy nor uselessly fine; with less of splendor, and more real elegance, than the furniture of Rosings.
‘And of this place,’ thought she, ‘I might have been mistress!'”
– Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
“In place of a Dark Lord, you would have a queen. Not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the dawn! Treacherous as the sea! Stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me, and despair.”
– Galadriel, The Fellowship of the Ring
“Ashamed of his monstrous form, the beast concealed himself inside his castle, with a magic mirror as his only window to the outside world. The rose she had offered was truly an enchanted rose, which would bloom until his twenty-first year. If he could learn to love another, and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time.”
– Narrator, Beauty and the Beast
Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is cinema’s greatest idiot. She was seconds away from inheriting an enchanted castle with magical servants who could never die, never leave, never require a salary of any kind, and she blew it. If the Beast died without ever returning to his human form, the curse would remain in place forever, with no hope of future interference from enchantresses or bookish townies. An army of deathless, soulless servants — who, it must be pointed out, had already proved themselves in battle to be stronger than an entire village of armed men. A library tower in which to perfect her terrible solitude. A magic wardrobe to bedeck her limbs in pearls and silks and gowns of spun gold. A tireless spider-stove for faster-than-horse transport. And all she had to do was quietly let the Beast die in her arms — which, let us point out, no one would have blamed her for — and then assume the mantle of his grieving widow and vow to rule the countryside in his stead. It could have all been handled so neatly, had she possessed a trifle more vision.
Perhaps, had she spent a bit more time on Nietzsche and Rand, and a bit less time re-reading children’s picture books, all this might have been avoided.
[The Beast is dying]
BEAST: You came back.
BELLE [loudly, for all to hear]: Of course I came back. Oh, this is all my fault. If only I’d gotten here sooner…But I didn’t. And now it is clearly too late, and you are dying.
BEAST: I think I could recover, if someone would only help me stop the blee–
BELLE: Don’t you talk like that. I’ll never forget you. How can you imagine I would ever forget you?
BEAST [confused]: Belle, do you…love me?
BELLE: I am going to miss you SO MUCH.
BEAST: But do you love me?
BELLE: I am just having so many feelings right now. So many feelings. [Loudly] OF COURSE I’LL CARRY ON YOUR LEGACY. DON’T YOU WORRY ABOUT A THING. I’LL LOOK AFTER THE CASTLE AND ALL ITS INHABITANTS IN THE ABSENCE OF A LIVING HEIR OR ANY LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE WILL, MY DARLING. [Quietly] I really have loved spending time with you.
BEAST: Belle…please…I love y… [He dies]
[BELLE pulls BEAST’s paw up to her cheek. He holds it there for a second, then drops it. His head falls back, and his eyes close. BELLE drops the paw and puts her hands to her mouth]
BELLE [Crying]: No, no! Please! Please! Please don’t leave me! I can’t believe I was only seconds too late to tell you how much I loved you!
[Cut to the SERVANTS, who watch the last petal fall off the rose. They all look down at the floor, and COGSWORTH puts his arm around MRS. POTTS. The rain continues to fall.]
BELLE [Crisp and businesslike]: I think we can all agree that, had the Beast lived, he would certainly have made me an offer of marriage. In the absence of a living heir, I am most fit to act as the executor of his estate.
BELLE: Stop that. You’ll get all rusty and useless. [Catching herself] And we have to carry on. For the Beast’s sake.
LUMIERE: His name was Adam. He had a name. We didn’t just go around calling him “Beast” all the time.
BELLE [Carefully considering him]: You’re right. I’m…I’m crazy from the grief. From all the grief that’s inside me, from my dead fiancée. Husband, really. We were secretly married just a few minutes ago, here on this tower.
[Behind her, THE BEAST’s body slides off the roof]
A week later.
[BELLE enters THE BEAST’s room wearily, then flings herself across the bed. She rips a gold crown off of her head and addresses the MAGIC WARDROBE without looking at her]
BELLE: Christ, I’m exhausted. Take this and have it polished, will you?
WARDROBE [tentatively]: Of course, m’lady. It’s — is it new? [Quickly] I only ask because it’s so beautiful.
BELLE: New in some ways, old in others.
[The WARDROBE looks closer and sees a faint outline of LUMIERE’S face in the gold circlet]
BELLE: I don’t hear polishing.
WARDROBE: Yes, m’lady.
BELLE: I’ll be in my library tower. Have my dinner brought in at seven.
WARDROBE: Yes, m’lady.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.