Well, last week the latest Disney remake has been released in theaters, Beauty and the Beast, starring Harry Potter actress, Emma Watson as the lead character, Belle. Watson herself is noted to be a feminist and has always looked forward to playing characters like Belle to empower young girls. However, one common criticism that persists for Belle amongst critics is that she has Stockholm Syndrome. However, this implication does not just stem from Watson’s recent role. Belle having Stockholms goes back to animated Belle and it’s become a huge joke on the internet.
Regardless of which incarnation of Belle you prefer, as a long time Disney fan I am going to go out of my way to say this.
BELLE DOES NOT HAVE STOCKHOLM SYNDROME!
In fact, there are a few characters with Stockholms that I will gladly show who are often overlooked. The first example is Quasimodo from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Frollo has convinced Quasimodo in this song that he’s the only one who would tolerate Quasimodo’s appearance and that the people outside of Notre Dame would hate him. As a result, Quasimodo has sympathy for Frollo as a father figure and who raised befriended him when no one else would. Now let’s move to an actual Disney Princess with Stockholm syndrome in a similar situation, Rapunzel.
Just like Quasimodo and Frollo, Mother Gothel uses emotional and mental manipulation on Rapunzel to convince her that any place outside of her tower is dangerous and evil. In this scene alone, Gothel convinces Rapunzel that she’s her real mother and only wants to protect her because she loves her. Thus, Gothel gain’s Rapunzel’s sympathy as a mother figure. This is what Stockholm syndrome is and it’s very well written for both movies. Both of the kidnappers are the villains in these movies and gain the full sympathy and trust of their victims.
What does Belle have? No, what does the BEAST have?
When you watch the movie again, it’s not about what Belle has but more about what the Beast has. Despite what people might think, it’s more clear that the Beast developed Lima Syndrome.
For those of you who are confused, Lima syndrome is the opposite of Stockholms; the kidnapper develops sympathy for their victim. When you rewatch scenes from the animated version (which is what the current version follows), you will notice these three key factors with Belle’s character:
- Belle does not respect Beast when she’s treated poorly by him.
- Belle does not return any kindness towards Beast unless she’s helped.
- And Belle does not tolerate being disrespected by anyone.
Meanwhile, the Beast starts out as a jerk at first but slowly becomes more sympathetic towards Belle.
Here’s just one of the series of clips that show my points:
In this clip, when the Beast acts rude and loud, Belle refuses to follow his requests and stands by her choice to not go to dinner with him. It’s emphasized even more here:
She doesn’t go downstairs to have dinner with the Beast but later goes down on her own just before the “Be Our Guest” scene. When the Beast scares her again, she runs away. Like so:
Notice that Beast starts weeping at the last few seconds, and starts to develop sympathy for Belle. As a result, when she’s rescued from the wolves, she starts to treat Beast with some more respect, but at a slow pace:
Also, let’s not forget that Belle doesn’t tolerate disrespect from ANYONE, including Gaston. As shown in both videos here:
Gaston constantly disrespects Belle and she never returns any form of respect towards him due to his rudeness. Right here we can also see the Beast develops in character enough to let Belle go:
Right here, he has become more sympathetic towards her and lets her go free so she can see her father. Thus, we can conclude that Belle never developed Stockholm Syndrome, but instead, the Beast developed Lima Syndrome.