Christine Brewer

M.S. Clinical Psychology

Private Practice

Pollock Pines, CA

Christine Brewer

Christine is a native of Berkeley who currently lives in the Sierra Nevada with her partner and family. Christine is a psychotherapist, with over 25 years of experience in the field of grief and trauma. She works as a consultant and freelance writer specializing in topics related to the field of psychology. Inspired by life in the mountains, she enjoys her budding freelance writing practice and small private practice.

Joined On:
May 21, 2017
Last Active:
May 27, 2017



Bill Condon

Year Released


PsY Rating

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Feminist or Conformist?

The musical Beauty and The Beast is based upon the fairytale originally written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince De Beaumont in 1756. The recent Disney version stars Emma Watson as the heroine, Belle.

Beyond the captivating scenes, lively music and compelling story, the underlying message is anything but beautiful. Belle finds herself in much more trouble than the chains of imprisonment when she goes to the enchanted castle to find her father. She feels compelled to protect her father by sacrificing herself to the Beast. Is she a rebel and a feminist or a woman who succumbs to ingrained societal gender roles? Underneath the surface, Beauty and the Beast depicts a current of abuse, gender bias and an undertow of the ingrained socialization of women that makes it virtually impossible for the heroine to truly break free from these cultural norms.

Rigid Gender Roles

The story takes place in a small village in the countryside. From the very beginning it is clear that traditional gender roles are quite pronounced.

The following lyrics sung by the townspeople criticize Belle for breaking gender roles of intellectual simplicity. They can’t seem to understand her nonconformity.

MEN: (looking in window, then turning to watch her)

Look there she goes

That girl is so peculiar!

I wonder if she's feeling well!

WOMEN: With a dreamy far-off look!

MEN: And her nose stuck in a book!

ALL What a puzzle to the rest of us is Belle!

Societal norms require women to look for a husband, not book knowledge. They simply cannot understand why a beautiful woman would not jump at the chance to marry the most eligible and desirable bachelor in town – Gaston. Her nonconformity results in a lack of belonging to the community which isolates her and further promotes her reliance on an abusive relationship as a source of identity. This is shown by Belle’s willingness to sacrifice herself in order to free her father from imprisonment.

Traditional Male Role

The character Gaston represents the stereotypical, overly masculine knuckle head who is too busy flexing his muscles and engaging in “male” displays such as fighting and hunting to get the hint that Belle has no interest in his attempts to woo her. In fact, Belle is absolutely disgusted by Gaston’s droll, barbaric behavior. At one point she mutters to herself after rejecting his advances, “I could never love anyone so idiotic”.

Gaston, the representation of masculinity, sees Belle as a “trophy wife”. He only wants her because of her beauty and what “owning” her represents — success.

Belle the Nonconformist

Belle may appear to be a nonconformist and a rebel. In some ways that is true but not entirely. She outwardly seems to reject her prescribed destiny of knowing her “place” and submitting to a limited existence despite her intelligence, courage and thirst for knowledge. Belle’s greater purpose is lost, however, when she falls into the trap of caretaking men who are defective in some way.  

After all, women are supposed to put the needs of others first. Right? Because of this unconscious belief, Belle remains in the caregiver role despite her fierce passion to pursue another lifestyle. Instead, Belle sinks into a pattern of submission based upon the traditional belief that love, goodness, hard work, caretaking and generally, co-dependent behavior, can change the men in her life. She is able to do this in some measure but at what cost?

Sacrificial Lamb or Female Warrior?

Belle rescues her father thereby sacrificing herself because she is locked in the role of caregiver to a father who is vulnerable. She believes it is her duty to save her father from the Beast and free him from the castle. She protects her father as though he were incompetent or a child.

Belle also takes on the responsibility of saving the Beast from the spell that has cursed him. Overtime, Belle brings about change in the Beast. The Beast is captivated by her and has no choice but to fall in love. Belle civilizes him and helps the Beast learn to control his temper. He does eventually change for her. Is Belle codependent or the victim of domestic violence, or is she a savior who proves that love is the answer?

Heroine or Victim?

Belle is strong, intelligent, adventurous, brave and loyal to a fault but these are not the qualities that make her a heroine. Rather, it is her beauty and sexuality that gives her power and value in a society that continues to objectify women versus finding virtue in the qualities that truly make her a heroine.  The qualities exemplified by Belle that make her a heroine are courage, integrity, self-sacrifice and fierce determination. Back to our original question, is Belle a rebel and a feminist or a woman who succumbs to ingrained societal gender roles? The answer is both.  Unconsciously, Belle uses her beauty and sexuality in order to obtain her noble and heroic intentions such as pursuing knowledge, refusing to settle for Gaston, saving her father and finally, taming the Beast and breaking the spell.

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