village where Belle is from. The camera slowly focusing on a cottage, where Belle enters the scene through her front door (Koning 42). This is an important section of the story as we see who will guide the story and we know that her fate is already determined. It suggests that her fate lies towards learning to love a beast, as she is the first to appear immediately after the transition. Despite the audience knowing where her fate lies, she is still unaware of it which helps us see who she actually is as a person through her opening song (00:04:03 – 00:09:46).
Belle starts singing about her life as soon as she leaves her house with a book in her hand as the town awakens. The camera follows her around the town to give a better picture of what her life is like from her perspective. We can also make the assumption that she’s the one guiding the story.
Belle is seen as an independent women. She confidently knows where she’s going, what she needs (ex: bread) and where her devotion lies (horse riding, reading, greeting the town citizens, helping the citizens with their problems). She also has her own duties as a women, which is to do the washing. It’s clear that she is reliving the same routine every day. In her song she sings “Every morning just the same, from the moment that we came” (Watson 00:59-01:04). Showing that she is used to the lifestyle and wants more in life. We can tell her attention isn’t focused on the way she looks as she doesn’t put much effort but in how she looks and appears, yet still looks pretty.
Fig. 1 – Belle leaving her cottage to go into town Fig. 2 Belle looking into the distance at the clock.
Belle is dressed as a typical housewife putting her back into society’s stereotype. However, the garments are looser fitting compared to the really restrictive clothing worn in the 18th century by many women. Since Belle is in the lower class, her outfit looks very simplistic. She is wearing a cheap cotton blue and white apron dress with some boots and a washcloth (Fig.1). Her straps are also attached with string and she is covered. Part of her dress is also tucked into her dress on the left, making it easier to move around, showing us that the traditional domestic work is not all she does. We can also see that she’s wearing bloomers beneath the dress. This is a very different attire for a women at that time as they usually tend to wear something more decorative. Belle is considered to be the most beautiful girl in town significantly seen by how all the kids, adults looking at her whenever she passes by. Further confirming how she’s hard to miss and that she stands out (Fig.2).
She has more freedom than a typical traditional princess as she does more things which don’t conform to the norms and she’s not forced to do anything but meet social expectation in the town which she doesn’t want to. Belle moved to the provisional town with her father as it was the safest place to be back then. She was raised by Maurice as he was the only one left in her family and that’s why has many male attributes (such as intelligence, activeness, innovative mind) which she learned from her father. However, she still is quite feminine as she’s very gentle and soft with the things she touches, she’s kind, caring and loving to almost anyone. She is very loyal to her father and knows that she needs to take care of him as he’s aging and support him while he tries to provide for their family through his music boxes. Therefore she is stuck in that lifestyle.
Additionally, we learn that Belle is bookworm and barely catch a glimpse of Belle without a book in her hands whilst she is in her town. She sings about how she wants more than this provisional life and reading is a way for her to get away and see the world. The priests asks her “where did you run off to this week?” and she says “two cities in northern Italy, I didn’t want to come back”(Watson 01:57 – 02:05). She wasn’t literally there but she was reading Romeo and Juliet. So we find out that reading was a way for to get away from the world. We also learn that Belle dreams of a prince charming just like in the book she read. Showing us how Belle is simply just like any other princess. Belle has become very knowledgeable through her passion for reading.
During that time it was the males that went to get educated whilst the women were put to domestic roles, shown in the film. However, Belle is able to learn on her own by reading which has no restrictions. Also being smart was not a normal characteristic for a female at that time as they didn’t have time for that. Belle is very curious about the world beyond her little town and she decides to learn about it through books. Princesses in other fairy tales usually got punished for showing curiosity as it trespasses the norms and is too dangerous. For instance, in Sleeping Beauty film, the princess is put under a sleeping curse when she touches the spindle. However, Belle doesn’t get punished for showing curiosity in the 2017 film, showing us how the gender roles have changed.
Fig. 3 The girls looking at belle walking by the shop Fig. 4 Belle in the markets with the other women
Belle is not like any of the other girl in her town “her looks have got no parallel” (Watson 03:11 – 03:15). The town citizens don’t understand why she is so liked and how she looks so much prettier than anyone. She has a natural appearance whereas the other girls put wigs, hats, bonnets, wear decorative dresses with a corset and a lot of makeup enhancing their appearance (Fig.3). She doesn’t need anything to make her pretty because she already is pretty. They are also wearing pink a very feminine color whilst Belle is wearing blue. Blue is a recurring color used for many female protagonists in films so that they stand out more and it is also gender neutral (Van Paris) (Fig.4). In other fairy tales such as Cinderella, we also see that many of the female characters also dress up and put on makeup in order to attract to men when they go to the ball.
Fig.5 Belle refuses to become Gaston’s wife
Belle is different than the others, which the citizens also believe “she’s nothing like the rest of us” (Watson 03:20 – 03:25). She spends her time doing other things and she doesn’t spend her time make herself pretty just to be liked by a man. Despite this, a man (Gaston), is still very keen on making her his wife. She is known as the prettiest girl in town and doesn’t need to change herself to be more beautiful. Her beauty is accentuated through the sunlight that falls onto her face. When Gaston asks Belle to become his wife she instantly denies him and shuts the door in front of his face. The girls in the town down seem to understand why she has denied such a handsome man further showing us how Belle isn’t focussed on appearances. The citizens in the town “wonder if she’s feeling well” (Watson 02:22 – 02:26). She also doesn’t want a man to control her life and doesn’t want to settle d