Participants of my ongoing Saving Cinderella class have the option to a write guest post on the topic of the session they attended. This post is in response to Session 4: Bestiality? Belle and the appeal of the monster.
To watch past sessions of the class, click here.
The following was written by Patti Warren.
As my husband and I were watching Beauty and the Beast, and reading Faith Moore’s analysis of Belle in Saving Cinderella, I began to wonder: “What is it about this fairy tale that strikes a chord with so many?”
Why is this — the love between a horrible Beast and a Beauty — “a tale as old as time”?
I believe it is because this story is something that we all, deep down, hope in our hearts will come true. We are the depraved Beast, and we long to be redeemed by true love. I argue that Beauty and the Beast gives us an allegorical picture of the Christian gospel – the redemption of a sinner through the true sacrificial love of Jesus Christ.
Recall the scene where the Beast refused to offer kindness to the beggar woman. His one act of selfishness cursed him and his entire household, much like Adam and Eve’s disobedience cursed all of humanity, bringing sin into the world. All of creation is now groaning from the consequences (Romans 8:22), much like the Beast every time he looks at himself. The Beast knows there is something desperately wrong with him. And although he is a master of his own castle, he is a slave to his own beastly – or sinful – nature, (John 8:34), and he cannot possibly change himself.
Enter Belle. The Beast is visibly touched by Belle’s personal sacrifice of her freedom to save her father in exchange for a lifetime of imprisonment. Maurice deserved to be punished for trespassing, but his own daughter — who did nothing wrong — took his punishment. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This references the greatest expression of Jesus Christ’s love – the voluntary laying down of his own life by his death on the cross to save sinners from the punishment of sin. Belle’s act of love for Maurice is the first step in the Beast’s transformation. Through Belle’s symbolic laying down of her life, the Beast learns there is a greater and better way to live.
The Bible also says that, “God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ showed his love for me while I was still a sinner – much like Belle started to fall in love with the Beast while he was still a beast. Both the Beast and I were unworthy of love yet received it freely. A sinner redeemed through faith in Christ is deeply motivated to love and serve God and others; likewise, Belle’s acts of kindness towards the Beast motivate him to change and love others in return.