Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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Beauty and the Beast: Stockholm

We experienced a sudden increase in popularity after church today. People kept stopping us to talk. And then one of them called later and asked if we wanted to go to the singles' fireside/potluck tonight. I don't think there's any romantic interest with that one; he's on the older side and seems to be attached to one of the ward's widows. But he did used to go to church where our family used to go to church when we were growing up, so I think it's a nostalgia thing, maybe with some interest in the whole Nibley thing. There might be some romantic interest with the other guy, but I probably shouldn't speculate much more on that, since it would just be gossip.

The point is, we didn't have plans for tonight, and now suddenly we do. There's supposed to be some smart guy talking at the fireside, so hopefully he's not too smart for us. Intellectual stimulation is nice, but our brains are tired.

But not so tired that we couldn't do some musing on the whole Stockholm Syndrome thing in Beauty and the Beast. Hold on a sec while I pull up the Wikipedia page for reference.

I read the whole article a while back, and the first thing that stood out, in a way I wish it hadn't is the description of people who have Stockholm Syndrome: a hostage's development of positive feelings towards their captor, no previous hostage-captor relationship, a refusal by hostages to cooperate with police forces and other government authorities, and a hostage's belief in the humanity of their captor.

Belle in Beauty and the Beast fits every one of those components. So in that sense, it probably can't be argued that "Nuh-uh!" On the other hand, another look tells me that those are the components that "generally lead up to" Stockholm Syndrome, and may not amount to a diagnosis? On the other hand, Belle does (probably) marry the Beast, so...I don't know what that means. I could also cling to the "but it's considered a 'contested illness'!" argument.

But I won't, because I want to explore it more in-depth. First of all, the Wikipedia article indicates that Stockholm Syndrome is thought to arise as a coping mechanism--for self-defense. It goes on to say (in the section on attachment patterns) that what tends to happen is that the captor makes the victim feel completely hopeless. They terrorize the victim so badly, and make them feel so helpless and submissive, that when the captor doesn't beat them (or do other terrible things), the victim sees it as an act of kindness and affection. I guess in that case, it would arise from the deeply ingrained human need for love and belonging.

So let's examine how Belle developed her feelings for the Beast. First off, he didn't really want to capture her necessarily, or at least it wasn't his idea. His idea was to capture her father, which I will grant you, is not better. Thinking about it, that may have been the act that set him so close to true beasthood that fate had to step in and say okay here's your last chance. That's when Belle shows up and agrees to take her father's place. Hopefully this alerted the Beast to the horror of why he was imprisoning a helpless old man, but that part isn't really covered.

What is covered is that the Beast takes her out of the prison tower and gives her a nice room. That...could be one of the bad cop/good cop things that leads to Stockholm Syndrome, but Athena points out that if throwing Belle in the dungeon after she volunteered to go there was enough to send her into a state of helplessness, she really wasn't that strong to begin with...and maybe that's the argument against her. But let's look at what happens next.

The Beast demands that she join him for dinner. He's a big scary beast who locked up her father, so on the one hand, the terror he causes could have made her submissive out of fear. But her original disdain for him won out (he was a terrible person), and she adamantly refused the order. She didn't even give in when he tried to act nice about it. She was pretty much determined to hate him, and really, who can blame her? The next thing she does is deliberately defy his orders so she can get something to eat after all. Clearly she's not that terrified. Personally, I probably would have stayed in my room for another day or two before I had the guts to leave, even if it was a gigantic castle.

Then there's the incident in the West Wing. If she was feeling helpless and submissive, she wouldn't have been in there in the first place. Then the Beast shows up and starts destroying everything in sight. I'm not sure how significant it is that he never hit her through all of that, and I don't know if it's an argument for or against her having Stockholm Syndrome, but it does verify Belle's later statement that he would never (physically) hurt anyone. Much. I mean, it probably wasn't the most comfortable thing when Beast dragged Maurice up to the tower.

So helpless little Belle breaks her promise to stay at the castle and decides to run away forever. She probably would have made good on that decision, too, except for the wolves. And when the Beast fought them off and passed out, you can see in the animation that she was thiiiiiis close to getting back on Philippe and leaving him there. But because Belle is not a heartless beast, she decided not to let him die, and she took him back to the castle. Maybe she didn't have to go so far as to give him first aid, but since he did save her life, she probably figured she owed him at least that much. It should probably be pointed out that it wasn't the Beast who put her life in danger, either. (I feel like that happens a lot in movies. "I know it was your idea to set off this chain of events that nearly killed me, but thanks for having a change of heart and deciding to save me after all! I always knew you were a good person!" But in this case, it was all Belle and the wolves who really put her in danger.)

And after that, the Beast starts to be a genuinely good person, so there you have it, right? I mean, do I really need to detail the whole "Something There" sequence and everything? Someone did something nice to him, it touched his beastly heart, he decided to change. She realized that hey, there is a decent person in there, and...oh yeah, I should mention this, because this is EXTREMELY important. Unlike everyone in the entire village back home, the Beast started showing interest in Belle and the things she liked. The key is in that song "Belle," when the baker asks Belle where she's off to, which, y'know, sounds like maybe he's interested, and she's more than happy to tell him, because she's SO EXCITED to have read this really great book, and we all are excited to talk about the really cool books or movies or whatever that we read or watched or whatever, so this is great, because (as she tells Maurice later) she doesn't have anyone to talk to, and here's someone she might actually get to talk to. But when she starts to tell him about it, he interrupts her and says, "That's nice," and immediately addresses someone else. So she just sighs and moves on with her life. But then here's the Beast, and it wasn't the greatest start ever, but he comes to be interested in her books, and now she finally has someone to share this very important part of her life with.

And I guess a captor who causes Stockholm Syndrome could do something like that, too.

But I think, especially in the age of the internet (which wasn't so big in 1991 when Beauty and the Beast was released), so many of us take for granted the fact that we can always find someone who's interested in the things we're interested in. These days, people don't always know what it's like to be surrounded by people whose eyes will inevitably glaze over the second you start talking about what means the most to you. And maybe you can think of a few people you know like that, but you can always escape to your internet friends. Belle didn't have that luxury.

So maybe she fell in love with the Beast because of Stockholm Syndrome, but whether or not that had anything to do with it, I can understand why she did fall in love with him, and I think, for me, that's the important thing in a story--that I can understand why the characters make the decisions they do.

(I'd also like to refer to a thing somebody on Facebook linked to, that talks about how Belle and the Beast were both rejected by the society that they came from, and...something about how they found comfort and love in each other, and it was much better written than that, but it made an important point...which I'm totally butchering. Oh well.)

So there's my thoughts, anyway.

Today I'm thankful for Primary classes not going too terribly today, the yummy leftover pizza we had for lunch, the hope of yummy desserts at this potluck, catching sight of another one of the new kittens, and getting to see my hummingbird yesterday.
Tags: beauty and the beast, thinking

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