Real Name: Adam
Domain: France (Mid 1800’s)
Premiered in: Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Voiced By: Robby Benson
First and foremost, allow me to say that, like Ariel of The Little Mermaid, the same voice actor has voiced Beast since his premiere on the silver screen though his, while sharing the same last name, is not related to Ariel’s. That being said, let’s get on to one of my favorite Disney characters to date. A good number of people are no doubt aware of Beast’s story of having been cursed by an enchantress to be as much a beast on the outside as he was on the inside but what many don’t realize are some of the more subtle aspects of the curse.
Case in point, for Beast’s servants, all of whom are either ironically named or the Enchantress herself being in possession of a sick sense of humor, were all transformed into living objects because of their association with the Beast. Aside from this being incredibly unfair to the staff of the castle, particularly those who were likely not even there for all that long, there were innocent children who had been cursed into objects as well. The only upside to their curse was, unlike their master, the servants did not age. I say this entirely because of Chip who is at best, eight years old.
The curse was put into effect roughly ten years prior to the film, wherein Beast’s twenty-first birthday is quickly approaching meaning that Chip can’t have been born during or even just before the curse was cast. This also leads to my next point. The Enchantress cursed Beast when he was eleven years old. I’m sorry, but even if he was the heir apparent with no parental figures to curb his temper, that is no excuse to cast such a monstrous spell on a child. While I’m sure it can be argued that the Enchantress knew of the Beast’s temper tantrums via magic and sorcery, what right did she have to not only punish him but all those inside the castle to boot? Say what you will of characters like Maleficent (both animated and live action), she at least allowed for her victim to live as she had been born, as a human being. Honestly, if Beauty and the Beast ever got a true sequel and not those “midquels” then it should be one focusing on getting some vengeance on this so-called Enchantress!
Stepping down from my soapbox slightly, I should also mention that the curse also extended to Beast’s castle and surrounding territory as well. The forests that surrounded the palace proper became wild with wolves and the castle’s architecture took a severe turn to the frightening with every bit of angelic masonry turning into gargoyles and monsters. In all honesty, I preferred the cursed look over the true one because there just is no excuse for the sheer number of angels perpetuating every nook and cranny of the place.
One last thing about the curse that I found rather intriguing really is that it animated everything that was in the castle because unless Beast had upwards of several thousand people on staff, there’s absolutely no way that everything from the utensils to the brooms could have been a former human. Speaking of humans turned into kitchenware, a good number of Beast’s companions are his top servants of staff those being Cogsworth his majordomo turned mantel clock, Lumière his Maître d turned candelabra, and Mrs. Potts his head of kitchen staff turned teapot. They are, essentially in terms of mannerism and advice, his uncle and motherly figures with Cogsworth and Lumière often offering him conflicting advice with Lumière’s coming out on top nearly every time. Speaking of the candelabra, did you know that his original voice actor was also the same actor who portrayed Detective Briscoe of Law & Order renown? That all being said, let’s move on to Beast proper shall we?
Overall, Beast is… Beast is a man with a severe attitude problem, one that is quickly rectified as he realizes that though initially afraid of him, Belle was having none of it and treated him not as a monster or even as a prince, but as an actual human being. He’s rough around the edges, in more ways than one, but a good chunk of that can be blamed on his monstrous form. It’s blatantly shown, in song no less, that Beast has a difficult time using utensils thanks to his fangs and the shape of his mouth being vastly different from a human one. Still, the transformation from animal to man is evident as he goes from cloak and pants to a suit of ultimate swagger. Seriously, if ever I have to dress up to a royal degree, it would be in homage to the one Beast wears during his ballroom dance with Belle.
One thing that I liked most about Beast is that he’s made up of so many different animals that he is the very epitome of the word chimera. He has the legs and tail of a wolf, the arms and body of a grizzly bear, the eyebrows of a gorilla, the mouth and mane of a lion, the tusks of a wild boar, and the head and horns of a bison. Yet the one and only thing about him that is well and truly human is his eyes, the very windows of his soul. Say what you will with how expressive Beast is throughout the film, particularly when he first tried grinning, but that moment in the film’s climax where he chooses to spare Gaston’s life rather than drop him to his death was the most powerful moment for Beast’s character throughout.
For ten years he suffered living in the body of an animal and though Belle had brought much of the man inside back, her absence sank him so deeply into depression that it was a miracle that he hadn’t tried to kill himself. As it was, on her return to the castle and his spotting her, Beast’s self preservation kicked in with such vengeance that though he no longer teetered on the precipice of life and death, he was still tilting dangerously close to crossing the line between man and monster. Belle might have said the words to break the curse, but I firmly believe that it was Beast’s actions that stormy night that brought the human out from the depths of his formerly beastly heart.