I’m going to take some time today to talk about one of my (many) favorite aspects of the original Beauty and the Beast, which I’ve somehow managed to go all these years without covering.
The Superman love triangle.
Is there some sort of official name for this phenomenon that I haven’t bothered to look up? Probably.
But you know what I’m talking about. Lois likes Clark, but she’s really hung up on Superman. So this poor guy is in competition with himself for her affections.
In “The Beauty and the Beast,” the beauty is living with a beast who proposes to her every night, and every night she says no. But she’s growing increasingly fond of him, and one of the main things preventing her from saying yes is her Dream Guy.
Now. A brief explanation of the beast’s situation here. Part of his curse is that he seems as dumb as the beast he looks like. So he’s sort of trapped inside his own head, and it’s not possible for the beauty to really get to know him.
But he’s visiting her in her dreams, as a prince - as his real self. And she’s fallen in love with the dream prince, who she hasn’t connected with the beast.
So she’s refusing to marry him because she’s in love with the person he’ll become as soon as she says yes.
Basically, it’s a mess.
And ultimately she does agree to marry the beast, when it seems he’ll die if she doesn’t. At which point we have two options.
She agreed to marry him because she does care for him deeply, even if she’s not in love with him, and has decided that she’d rather keep him alive than keep waiting on a man who might be only a figment of her imagination. In which case everything is gonna be great when he changes; she saved the beast she’s fond of, and now gets to marry the man she loves.
The beast’s near death has made her realize that it’s him she truly loves, not a man who may only be a figment of her imagination. And as soon as she realizes she loves the beast more than the man, the beast ceases to exist forever and is replaced by the man. Which is a major bummer, and much awkwardness is bound to ensue.
It’s a worse situation than Superman’s; once he comes clean to Lois, it’s all good, because Clark and Superman are the same person in different clothes. But while the beast may be fundamentally the same person he always was, the terms of his curse prevent him from acting like himself while he’s a beast. Which means that the two people the beauty is torn between are, in a way, simultaneously the same person and two different people.
And it’s just - honestly I’m not sure I see this working out well. If you’ve fallen for this big, kinda ugly guy who’s a little slow, a little dumb, are you going to be happy with a whip-smart hottie? And if the girl you like was always nice to you when you were slow and ugly, but is suddenly all over you when the spell breaks, if she agreed to marry you, but is clearly delighted when this causes you to become a radically different person from the one she agreed to marry, how are you going to feel about that?
Overall, it’s this “seem like a beast” clause that continues to be problematic. Because if you love someone, it shouldn’t really matter what he looks like, right? But if the spell changes how you act, that’s...it’s just difficult. That fairy who cursed him knew what she was doing; he is thoroughly screwed over.