If people pay to watch the show, it must mean something to them, unless we decide that such a large amount of the population is just dull. That would be a stupid psychological conclusion. Truth is that we only do what is significant to us, even when we don’t understand our own reasons (and that’s the problem).
Beauty and the Beast is an instructive fairy tale that has a lot to say about our psychological reality.
Beauty is a “strange girl”, as her peers say. She’s always with an open book in her hands that makes her imagination fly and see other places, people, and marvels. She is as sensitive to this “other world”, which we can only call the “inner world”, as she is indifferent to the outside and its glamour.
Who would Beauty be today? A girl who likes to read and doesn’t fit in her group of classmates, who has a critical vision of Disney Channel and its stars. Someone who doesn’t like to spend her days in shopping centers. To the average teens this Beauty would look absurd, most certainly, she would not be considered “normal”. Her parents might even be concerned about her “introversion”, while her peers, mainly girls, would unmercifully bully her, for her being different functions as a smack in their face. Modern Beauty’s behavior would show to her peers that what is so important to them can be seen otherwise. And because the other girls may actually feel that their values are not so real as they think, they need to put down and shut alternative voices, such as Beauty’s. So, let’s (psychologically) kill the different.
In the musical everything shines melody and happiness because we are looking through Beauty’s eyes and are merged in her world and challenges. But from the outside, Beauty’s life would be miserable.
Beauties like this there are many around. They may not be glamorously looking and surely they are not popular. When they are beautiful they might believe they are ugly for this is how the world sees them. They have beauty inside, and often hold it tight to protect it, therefore they are shy, which doesn’t help with their “introversion” and “relationship issues”. These Beauties fight a solitary battle, and feel so desperately alone.
In the fairy tale, Beauty refuses Gaston who is the representation of the system itself. Gaston symbolizes the common mentality and the standard values. He’s the reflection of the average masculine figure in a highly extroverted society. Thus, Gaston and his followers (men and women) are as blind to the inner world as insensitive to other points of view. To them, everything must fit in the established pattern. He wants Beauty not because he loves her, but to conquer and dominate the one to whom he means nothing.
By despising Gaston, Beauty is courageously setting the standards for the life she wants for herself. That’s what any “good girl” in her individuation process do. Beauty wants to be herself and thus it’s crucial that she doesn’t accept Gaston. He tells her that he will make all “her dreams come true”. But which dreams? Whose dreams? Beauty’s inner deep dreams or the collective stereotyped ideals? Gaston, as the expression of masculine banality molded by the unreflective thinking, would actually kill Beauty’s dreams.
Beauty says no to Gaston and meets the Beast. That’s what happens when one denies giving in to the mass media stereotypes. This person will have to face the Beast, the unrefined, grotesque, and scary first step in one’s journey of individuation. The Beast, as the story says, is the other face of the beautiful persona we show off to the world. The Beast is a threaten and a promise. Unused as people are to deal with the wilderness inside, the Beast represents everything has been put aside, shut off, “forgotten” and ignored. Our true potential prince charming. The one that makes us be who we are.
Beauty had dreamed about another life, which is possible, but it doesn’t come for free, there’s a price to pay and a battle to win. Many adolescents happen to have now and then the healthy feeling of refusing the status quo and following their vision. However, fresh and young as they are, and mainly, alone, they don’t have knowledge neither guidance to reach what they want and thus turning their dreams true. As we all know, life is not easy at all. One thing is wishing and idealizing, a totally diverse one is rolling one’s sleeves up and work on it, and guess what, without an instruction manual. This existential dilemma is frequently dragged on for years and years ahead, until people find themselves in their forties realizing that they still didn’t accomplished their dreams.
What’s the path the fairy tales suggests? Introversion, perseverance, acceptance and love.
Beauty is lost in the forest – as any of us would be after refusing Gaston/status quo (“What the heck will I do now?”). She’s alone and scared, and as usual it rains (matching our own tears). She needs a shelter. The forest is the place of the unconsciousness, far from the civilized mind, the ego palace with its comfortable trite reality. In the forest one silences, and observes. Instincts gain strength and are sharpened. It’s time to feel. From the outside, a person in the forest will appear as introverted.
The palace in the forest tells us that there’s something big going on there. The wilderness is fully alive and carries a deep message. The master of this side of the psyche’s world is righteously cursed by a wise witch. He’s the result of a personality excessively opened to the outside ignoring the inside, which is: consciousness, spirituality, ethics, meaning. The vain prince is doomed to die (of course, who wants a bi-dimensional life?) unless he’s able to love and be loved. Such a beautiful curse.
Who can love the ugly, rude and scary Beast? Only someone to whom the average mentality and life style is uglier, ruder and scarier. Beauty. Because what we refuse is utterly unbearable, because the idea of giving up our own personality and uniqueness is worse than dying, we face the Beast. The outside door is shut, it only remains to move on, that is: to go deeper. From the outside, a person in this journey will look much introverted and even depressed. She’ll be like a boat sailing in turbulent waters. She will benefit from qualified tuned help, even though she’s perfectly normal and she’s reacting as expected before what is at stake.
By being available and donating her attention to the situation, for Beauty is completely plugged in the prince’s castle, not having any extra diversion, she finds her way to the Beast’s heart. It’s quicker and easier to solve a case when we are completely dedicated to it. What seemed incomprehensible and frightening, acquires a new face and finally the two love birds are close to break the spell and live happily ever after. From the outside a person looks to have recovered her self esteem and confidence. But the battle is not ended. We still have Gaston to deal with. What shall we do with this guy?
Protect us. The marvelous reality we find in your personal inner journey continues to be invisible to the outside world and, worse, the extroverted and superficial outside fears the mysterious inner side of the psyche. Therefore, once again let’s kill the different. And there it goes Gaston and his followers fulfilled by pious beliefs stuffed between one ego’s sin and another, to eliminate the Beast, that is, the person who dared to carry out her difference.
This last fight of the first scene of the individuation process contributes to its apotheosis and realization. Gaston apparently wins, but he actually frees the Beast. When everything seems to be lost, it’s time for that self esteem and confidence in blossom to show that they are for real. Once again, being positive in one’s home is not enough. The world demands its toll and by doing so it gives us the opportunity to make our inner beauty shine. The transformation is complete, the Beast has left the scene and made room to the Prince. Our future is now available to us. We have our own mind and project. The path is open, we got married to our own Self.