Following Little Town, we get to witness Belle and Gaston’s first interaction together. What’s interesting is that Belle doesn’t act like the other Disney princesses, even if she looks the part. She doesn’t fall in love with the first handsome guy she sees. In fact, she is repulsed by him, and this could not be made clearer when her book falls in mud during their encounter. This shows Gaston only muddles her dreams and her hopes for a better future. This will be reiterated in Gaston’s proposal to Belle in which, once again, her book has be cleaned after Gaston puts his muddy boots on it. What follows is a beautiful reprise showing how gorgeous the town’s scenery really is. It’s not the town that she hates; it’s the people in it who don’t share her enthusiasm towards believing in something like a fairytale that exists in the real world. Her ultimate adventure would be to live in a fairytale.
The first layer established in the prologue gets unraveled brilliantly. Maurice enters the castle to be introduced to only two of the prince’s servants who have been turned into household objects: a candlestick named Luminaire and a clock named Cogsworth. As Luminaire tries to be hospitable to Maurice, more and more enchanted objects make their appearances, starring a teapot named Ms. Potts and her son, a teacup named Chip. The most anticipated character appearance, however, is the beast. And man, does he not disappoint. The beast is downright beastly. He hasn’t learned anything from the enchantress who has turned him into a beast as punishment for not offering shelter from the bitter cold. Once again, someone is in need of shelter from the cold, and he is met by a more volatile prince who is now fueled with anger and pain from the incident. All of the expectations set from the prologue are beyond satisfied: the castle looks fabulously horrifying, its objects are truly enchanted, and the beast is a monster.
At this point in the story, there is only character who deceives us with their looks, and that is Gaston. Even down to the side-characters, Disney has physically embodied every distinguishing personality trait of their characters, making them accessible to children and easily recognizable for adults. Cogsworth demands punctuality and order. Luminaire radiates with fiery charm and charisma. Ms. Potts offers her wisdom as often as she offers her brew. Chip is rambunctious and cute. These characters even remind us of their physical embodiments when turned to their human form. And although these characters, like the town, remain static in a story filled with many future physical transformations, they serve to spotlight the characters who actually undertake metaphysical transformation.
Belle arrives at the castle looking for her father, and we start to see the human inside the beast. He is genuinely caught off-guard by Belle’s proposal of replacing her father’s place in the castle dungeon, not because he was surprised, but because he doesn’t understand why anybody would do such a thing: the beast doesn’t know how to love and the meaning of sacrifice.
The beast logically accepts the proposal, seeing this as an opportunity to turn back human. This dichotomy resulting from two different outcomes of two different proposals marks how opposite Belle and the beast are right now. Belle rejects Gaston’s proposal because we are starting to realize she is beautiful on the inside, and the beast accepts Belle’s proposal because he is still a monster on the inside, albeit with some remnants of a human being trapped inside.
Perhaps what is most worthwhile noticing is the beast’s eyes are the same color as Belle’s dress. Only through this recognition are we able to realize what Belle’s color of blue means right now: it represents temptation. This shade of blue reinforces this idea of a love triangle where two princes, in each of their respective domains, are trying to win the love and affections of Belle. However, they are both terrible at it, not because they are incapable of loving, but because they only see Belle for what they want to see her for. Gaston sees Belle for the reputation his union with her will serve him. The beast sees Belle as an opportunity to turn human again. That is why their eyes are blue, and why Belle’s dress is blue. Because neither is able to see the beauty within, are they both equally undeserving of Belle.
What follows is a big rousing musical number dedicated to Gaston. Once again, this song is as functional as it is catchy. It is here when we realize why both Gaston and Belle are so tall: it is because there’s more beneath them. Although Belle looks beautiful on the outside, she is beautiful on the inside, even if she herself doesn’t recognize it. And although Gaston appears disgraced by Belle’s rejection, he is still loved by the town, even if he himself isn’t so sure about it. We see Gaston turn back into his normal self only when he is re-assured he is still admired by the town, which adds depth to his character. In this fashion, we realize why Belle and Gaston are tall.
The second layer introduced by Belle’s book starts to unfold as Belle exits her room for some dinner. What is interesting to note is that Ms. Potts and Chip’s eyes are the same color of Belle’s blue book. While the lighter sky-blue color of Belle’s dress represents temptation, the darker almost navy-blue of Belle’s book represents her dreams. Simply put, the beast’s enchanted castle and its enchanted objects are exactly what Belle was talking about when she said she wanted more than this “provincial life.” As the story of La Belle et la Bête gets written for us, Belle’s dreams are also starting to be defined. Her fairytale entails of a candlestick juggling, glassware singing, and utensils dancing.