#3: Belle and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast is without a doubt one of if not the single most acclaimed Disney animated film of all-time. The story really is a “tale as old as time,” and Disney borrowed from source material across the ages, including the famous Cocteau film La Belle et la Bête.
However, as the Disney version is one of the most well-known today, we’ll stick with that, and begin by pointing out what so many Internet analyses of this film have already touched on—namely, that beautiful as it is, there’s a beastly problem at the center of Belle’s relationship, and might well be a Disney-fied version of one of the saddest kinds of unhealthy relationships, Stockholm Syndrome.
We’ve already hinted at the issue of overly-controlling partners, and that’s especially true of the Beast.
He locks Belle away, literally roar at her (and roars that she can “go ahead and starve” if she refuses to indulge his whims and dine with him after locking her away), verbally abuses her, restricts her mobility within the castle, and what is Belle’s reaction to this? Strong-willed defiance…followed by a gradual progression towards loving the literal beast of a man holding her captive and restricting her freedom.
“But wait!” you said, “She only comes around after the Beast stops acting like a complete schmuck and treats her nicely! She helps him become a better person!”
Which brings us back to Jane Eyre and the problem of staying with someone in order to “redeem” them, especially when said people hold and exploit a position of power in a relationship (we told you we’d come back to that.) It’s all well and good to want to help someone out, but that can all-too-easily lead to unhealthy relationships.
Learning to love, redeem, or even justify your captor—whether or not it’s Stockholm Syndrome, for as much as we love her, a happily ever after ending may well be what saves Belle from the fate of the other heroines on this list likewise suffering from unhealthy relationships.