The Beast is the male protagonist of Disney's 1991 film Beauty and the Beast and its midquels. He is the love interest of Belle. As the film is based on the traditional fairy tale of the same name, the Beast is based on the corresponding character from that fairy tale.
Physical Appearance & Personality
In the original tale, the Beast is seen wanting to be kind-hearted for the most part, and gentleman-like, with only an occasional tendency to be hot-tempered. In Disney's variant of the tale, the Beast originally appeared to be constantly angry, pessimistic and spoiled. As opposed to his original counterpart, the creators gave him a more primal nature to his personality, which truly exploited his character as an untamed animal.
To reflect his early personality in the movie, the Beast is seen shirtless, with ragged, dark gray breeches, and a ragged reddish-colored cape with a golden colored circular-shaped clasp. Despite the actual color of his cape being a dark wine red color, The Beast's cape is more often referenced to be purple. The reason for this change in color is unknown, although the most likely reason is because the color purple is often associated with royalty. After the Beast saves Belle from a pack of wolves, his dress style changes, reflecting a more refined personality. His dress style becomes more disciplined, and the most referenced form of dress is his ballroom outfit, which consisted of a golden vest over a white dress shirt with a white kerchief, black dress pants trimmed with gold, and a navy blue ballroom tail coat trimmed with gold, worn during the film's ballroom dance sequence. Upon his reform under his love interest Belle, his personality changes to refined, but naive about the world at the same time.
Supervising animator Glen Keane describes the Beast as "a twenty-one-year-old guy who's insecure, wants to be loved, wants to love, but has this ugly exterior and has to overcome this."
According to the commentary from producer Don Hahn, the spell is not just physical but psychological as well. The longer the Beast is under the spell, the more feral he becomes. If Belle had never arrived at the castle, he would've eventually stopped speaking, stopped wearing clothing altogether, and would've gone to live in the woods. His primary source of food comes from hunting. This also explains the appearance of the West Wing and why he seems to have lost most of his ability to read and use eating utensils.
Chris Sanders is responsible for helping come up with the design of the Beast. He went from insect forms, avian forms and fish forms until he finally got the right design. The Beast is not of any one species of animal, but a chimera, a mixture of several animals. He has the head structure and horns of a buffalo, the arms and body of a bear, the eyebrows of a gorilla, the jaws, teeth, and mane of a lion, the tusks of a wild boar and the legs and tail of a wolf. He also bears resemblance to mythical monsters like the Minotaur or a werewolf. In the original versions, he was described more like a cross between a lion and a mythical animal. He also has blue eyes, the one physical feature that does not change whether he is a beast or a human.
- “So, you've come to stare at the Beast, have you?”
- ―The Beast, as he confronts Maurice
The unnamed prince was a handsome young prince, albeit selfish and spoiled, who lived in a luxurious castle in France and had everything he wanted. One night, on Christmas Eve, his kindness was put to the test when a beggar woman came to the castle and pleaded for shelter from the freezing cold and rain, with a single rose as payment. Repulsed by her appearance, he sneered at the simple but beautiful gift. The woman begs again, and he still refuses. When he shuns the beggar woman for her repulsive appearance again, her ugliness melts away and then reveals her true form as a beautiful and powerful Enchantress.
Seeing her beauty and realizing her power, the Prince tries to apologize. But it is too late, for she has seen in her disguise that there was no love in his heart. As punishment for his cold heart, she turns him into a terrifying beast. She also casts a ghastly curse on the entire castle, transforming it into a dark, foreboding place, its lush green grounds into dark, misty woods, and the good-natured servants into anthropomorphic household objects to reflect their different personalities. Ashamed of his new appearance, the Beast conceals himself inside his castle with a magic mirror as his only window to the outside world.
The rose the Enchantress had given him was enchanted and it would bloom until his 21st year. She had told him that if he could learn to love another and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken, but if he failed, he would remain a beast forever.
Years later, when Beast locks Maurice, an old man in the tower as a prisoner for trespassing (not knowing or caring that Maurice was actually allowed inside by the servants for shelter), his daughter, Belle, confronts Beast and pleads with him to let her father go, offering herself as a prisoner instead. The Beast accepts, under the further condition that she remains in the castle forever. He further warns Belle not to go into his chamber, the West Wing. However, she does later on out of curiosity, much to Beast's fury.
Beast later comes to appreciate Belle when she tends to his wounds after he saves her from the wolves, and strikes up a friendship with her. She then teaches him to become more civilized. Eventually, he falls in love with her, and placing her happiness before his own, he releases her to tend to her sick father (and to make up for his harsh treatment of him).
A lynch mob comes to kill the Beast, led by a rival suitor named Gaston. Gaston eventually finds Beast, and initially, Beast has no will to fight, still in a state of depression from Belle leaving. Just as Gaston is about to lay the finishing blow, Belle returns, calling for Gaston to stop. Upon hearing Belle's voice, he suddenly stands and fights back with a renewed vigor in knowledge that Belle truly does love him. As the fight continued, Gaston continued to blather about his superficial beliefs that he is Belle's true love, and the Beast is nothing more than a monster whom Belle would never love. Having had it with Gaston's arrogance, Beast overpowers him and holds him by the throat over the edge of the castle. Gaston finally drops his pride and begs for mercy, to which Beast initially ignores, but upon realizing that he was turning into everything that represents Gaston himself, instead allows him to walk away, warning him to leave the castle and never return. Reuniting with Belle, he happily embraces her, but is then stabbed in the side by Gaston, who then loses his balance and falls off the castle to his death.
Belle comes to tend to the Beast's wounds and tries to reassure him that everything's going to be fine, but he knows all too well that his time is coming, telling her that he was happy to have a chance at seeing her one last time before succumbing to his wounds. Upon losing him, Belle begs him not to go and cries, admitting that she loves him. Just after the last petal falls from the enchanted rose, shining beams of light falls onto the Beast. The Beast's body floats in the air and becomes enshrouded by fog as he begins to transform: his fore-paws, hind-paws, and furry head respectively turn back into hands, feet, and a head of the Prince. He then gets up, looks at himself, and turns to Belle, who initially looks at him skeptically before recognizing him by his blue eyes. The Prince and Belle share their first kiss, a kiss of true love, that further breaks additional spell placed on the castle and its inhabitants: the castle is restored to its original, shining state, and all the Prince's servants, including Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts, are transformed back into human. The next day, a ball is held to celebrate their victory.
The Beast makes a cameo appearance in Aladdin as one of the Sultan's toys.
In the midquel, which takes place not long after the Beast rescued Belle from the wolves, much to Beast's frustration, Belle wants to celebrate Christmas and throw a real Christmas party. Beast hates the idea of Christmas, for it was the very day when the Enchantress cast the spell on him and the entire castle ten years ago - he also was ungrateful for his gift that day, a storybook. While Beast sits most of the preparations out, a treacherous servant plots to have Belle thrown out of the castle: Forte the Pipe Organ, since he is far more appreciated by the Beast while under the spell.
Unknown to Beast, Belle writes him a special book which he doesn't see until later on. She also meets Forte later on in a chance meeting. Forte tells her that Beast's favorite Christmas tradition when he was a child... was the Christmas tree. Belle becomes frustrated, for no tree she has seen on the grounds has been tall enough to hang ornaments. Forte lies to Belle, saying that a perfect tree can be found in the woods beyond the castle. Reluctant to go against Beast's orders that she never leave the castle, Belle leaves nonetheless in order to find the perfect tree. When Belle does not arrive to see Beast's Christmas present to her, he begins to suspect that she isn't there at all. When Mrs. Potts explains that the household cannot find her, Beast becomes enraged. He goes to Forte to ask for advice, and Forte lies to him that Belle has abandoned him. Beast confronts Belle in the woods and saves her in time from drowning, since she fell through thin ice.
Still believing that Belle disobeyed him by leaving the grounds, Beast throws her into the dungeon. But when Forte goads him into destroying the rose to end his suffering, Beast finds Belle's book in the West Wing and reads it, coming to his senses and realizing that all Belle wants is for him to be happy. Releasing Belle from the dungeon, Beast prepares to join in the Christmas festivities. But Forte doesn't give up and even goes as far as to attempt to destroy the entire castle with Beethoven's 5th. Fortunately, Beast finds him in time and destroys his keyboard with Franz Schubert's Symphony No 8. Losing his balance (and his pipes), Forte falls from the wall he is leaned up against and is silenced forever. Despite his intentions, Beast mourns Forte's death with Belle comforting him. When the whole castle is turned back into humans, the Prince and Belle give Chip, Mrs. Potts' son, a book to read, which he loves. As the Prince and Belle come out to the balcony, he gives her something too: a rose.
In the final entry of the franchise, made up of four segments from a presumably failed television series, Belle teaches the Beast a thing or two about life itself, consideration and manners. He appears only in the first and fourth segments, and in a cameo in the third. In the first part, The Perfect Word, Beast and Belle have a bitter falling out at dinner when the Beast demands that Cogsworth open the windows to cool him down, despite the fact that he is the only one hot and there is a cold wind, and angrily strikes his servant, Webster, a long-tongued dictionary. Despite Lumière and Cogsworth's please, Beast refuses to apologize for his behavior, until Webster, Crane and LePlume forge a letter of apology from the Beast to Belle. All is settled, until the Beast realizes that it was a forgery. He furiously banishes Webster, Crane and LePlume from the castle, but Belle brings them back from the woods, and the Beast soon learns to forgive them, as their intentions were good.
In the fourth part, The Broken Wing, the Beast loses his temper with Belle again when she brings an injured bird into the castle, as he dislikes birds. As he tries to chase the bird out, however, he falls over on the stairs and hits his head hard, knocking him unconscious and later stripping him of his hatred for birds. However, his selfishness still remains, and he locks the bird in a cage in his room, demanding that it sings for him whenever he demands it. The bird, terrified, refuses, until Belle teaches the Beast that the bird will only sing when happy. The Beast lets the bird out, and learns to consider others before himself.
Earlier on, in the third segment, Mrs. Potts' Party, the Beast makes several cameos sleeping in his bed in the West Wing. Dialogue between Lumière and Cogsworth shows that he had spent the entire previous night mending leaks in the castle roof, and is still resting. An argument between Lumière and Cogsworth about Mrs. Potts' favorite flowers lead to them having to hide several bunches of flowers around the Beast's bed. At one point, the Beast begins to smell one of the flowers and almost wakes up, but it is removed just in time, and he falls asleep again.
Beast made recurring cameo appearances in the animated series House of Mouse, again voiced by Benson. One of Beast's most notable appearances is where The Angry Villagers perform the song Let's Slay the Beast. After the performance ended, Beast (hiding under a table) asks Belle if it's over. In "Not So Goofy", the Beast was seen struggling to scratch his back until Goofy arrived and scratched it for him. In "The Stolen Cartoons", the Beast turning from his human to beast form was used as a visual reference when Daisy noticed the crowd getting ugly. The Beast was also a secondary guest character in the film Mickey's Magical Christmas as well as Mickey's House of Villains where Donald Duck tries to scare him but he scares him back.
The Beast and Belle were featured in one of the Disney parody trailers for the film. Here, Beast and Belle are having their famous ballroom dance when Stitch was seen above on the chandelier when it suddenly plummets to the ground. The Beast is left looking confused as Belle storms to her room enraged.
The Beast made a cameo appearance at the end of the film in the form of a silhouette alongside Belle and several other Disney characters.
The main antagonist of the film who had an obsessive crush on Belle, although Gaston only cared about Belle for her beauty, believing her to be the best choice for him as a wife purely because she was the most beautiful woman in the village that they lived in. Gaston is basically the polar opposite to the Beast: while Gaston is physically handsome, he's a total jerk and has no inner beauty while the Beast, who's obviously not physically handsome, has inner beauty and genuinely cares about Belle for more than just her looks (although the Beast was obviously amazed at how beautiful Belle was). Despite being Gaston's obviously bad qualities, he wasn't truly evil in the beginning, as he started off as narcissistic but harmless, but after he tried blackmailing Belle into marrying by threatening to have her father locked up in the local insane asylum (as nobody in town believed him about the Beast's existence), she still refused to marry him, which finally makes Gaston snap. Belle proved to the villagers that her father was telling truth by using the magic mirror the Beast gave her to show everyone he's real.
As Belle starts telling the villagers about the Beast, Gaston realizes that Belle has feelings for the Beast. Playing on the fear of the other villagers, Gaston makes them think that the Beast is vicious, man-eating monster and rallies them to form a lynch mob to go and kill the Beast (he also locks Belle and her father in their basement so they stop can't stop him, but they manage to escape thanks to Chip, who had stowed away in Belle's bag). During the fight, Gaston continues to taunt the Beast by asking him if he really thought that someone as beautiful as Belle would want to be with someone like the Beast when she had someone like Gaston to be with.
The Beast eventually overpowers Gaston in the fight, and is prepared to kill him, but after seeing Gaston pathetically begging for his life, the Beast regains enough of his humanity to let him go, ordering him to leave. However, when Gaston sees the Beast embracing Belle, his hatred and jealousy arises again, which leads to the hunter's ultimate downfall. Determined to kill his rival once and for all, Gaston stabs the Beast in the side while dangling precariously from the balcony. The Beast swings him arm backward in pain, causing Gaston to lose his balance and plunge into the deep chasm (presumably to his death).
- Gaston's the first male Disney villain to have an obsessive crush on the female lead, the second being Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, who was obsessed with Esmeralda. Also, Gaston's currently the youngest Disney villain to date, apparently being in his mid-twenties at the oldest.
- The Beast is the first male character in a Disney fairy tale to have a role that is equally as significant as the female protagonist's.
- Though the Beast's official age is not mentioned in the movie, it is strongly indicated by the narrator's statement that the rose "would bloom until his 21st year." As the rose has already begun to wilt by the time Belle enters the castle, it is very likely that the Beast is 20 years (ie on their 21st year) of age by this point.
- The Beast's actual name isn't revealed in the film. A computer game reveals that his name is Prince Adam.
- The Beast (in his human form) is the only Disney Prince to be a redhead as his natural hair color is a light auburn.
- The Beast is also the first prince to not be a human for a major portion of his life.
- The Beast is the first male protagonist to not "save" his female counterpart near the film's climax. He does, however, save Belle from a vicious wolf attack roughly at the film's turning point.
- Casting of the Beast was a true challenge, considering the fact the directors were searching for someone who could alternate between a deep, gruff and rather uninviting voice to a soft, prince-like tone. When Robby Benson surprisingly auditioned for the role, the casting directors were both shocked and pleased, and immediately cast him. Critics claim Benson did the role so well that they couldn't even tell it was him.
- The Beast in the original fairy tale had a generally welcoming personality, unlike in the film version. The directors felt changing this aspect would help add dimension to the Beast, but also promote the film's primary moral "True beauty comes from within."
- Several animals were used during the process of designing and animating the Beast, such as wildebeests, bears, lions and wolves.
- The Beast is the first Disney Prince to be wounded by the villain. After him would follow John Smith, who was shot by Ratcliffe, arguably Li Shang who was knocked out by Shan Yu, Naveen whose blood was drawn from him twice by Facilier, and finally Flynn Rider who was stabbed by Mother Gothel.
- He is one of the rare Disney characters whose blood is shown, including Tarzan (twice), Mulan, Quasimodo and Flynn Rider.
- During the fight with Gaston, the Beast says only two words to him: "Get out" (which are the only words he says to him in the entire movie).
- Beast is very similar to Stitch from Lilo & Stitch, as they are both monsters judged by their appearance, but also true monsters at the start of their films. They both met and befriended an outcast (Belle and Lilo), both started to develop feelings of compassion over time, and both received a chance to show to others they were not monsters and were accepted. Both are also known to be rude and bad-mannered and have shown this in their respective films. They also share similar characteristics: claws, fangs, head appendages (Stitch's antennae and Beast's horns), fur and especially temper. Coincidentally, they were both designed by Sanders.
- Interestingly, the scene of Stitch's "death" in Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch parallels the scene of Beast's death in Beauty and the Beast; both are also subsequently revived by the love of their female interests.
- Beast is also similar to Kenai from Brother Bear as they were immature when they were young, then they did something bad (Beast, rejecting an old woman who turned out to be an enchantress and Kenai, killing Koda's mother) and were turned into animals as punishment until they realized their mistakes. Another similarity is that they both had to learn to love ("Love" was Kenai's totem, after all, and Beast eventually learned to love Belle).
- The second the Beast transforms back into Prince Adam, while there is still hair on his face, he bears a slight resemblance to Phoebus.
- The Beast is one of Disney's most unpredictable characters, because at first glance he's a fierce monster but behind the scary face is a loving heart, which he displays toward Belle at the end of the film.
- Glen Keane went to the Los Angeles Zoo to study animals for the Beast's looks and personality. When he studied a six-hundred-pound antisocial gorilla, Caesar, and tried to draw him, Caesar charged at him and slammed against the bars. Keane knew this was how Belle would feel when she first caught sight of the Beast.
- When The Beast is getting his hair cut for Belle, the hair style he is given is the same as the Cowardly Lion's in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
- Beast has some similarities to Kuzco from The Emperor's New Groove, in that:
- Both were spoiled and selfish princes that were transformed into non-human creatures by witches (Beast into a monster by The Enchantress; Kuzco into a llama by Yzma). However, Beast's transformation was intentional on the Enchantress' part, while Kuzco's transformation was a mistake (Yzma intended to poison him).
- Their treatment of their servants indirectly led to their transformations (Beast's insolence to their servants led to him being spoiled, Kuzco's lack of respect towards Yzma led her to conspire against him)
- Both rebuffed simple but wise peasants and ignored (Beast callously denied the disguised Enchantress shelter, while Kuzco planned to build Kuzcotopia on Pacha's village without showing concern for the villagers' homes).
- Both became better people through interacting with the very type of peasants they disregarded (Beast through his budding romance with Belle, Kuzco via his initially rocky relationship with Pacha).
- Both entered a dangerous forest (Kuzco entered the jungle out of pride, while Beast entered the forest to save Belle).
- Beast also has several notable similarities to Elsa from Frozen:
- Both are royalty cursed with dangerous abilities (the Beast was a prince turned hideous, Elsa was a princess born with control over winter).
- Because of their abilities, both think of themselves as monsters, and are referred to as such by the misunderstood townspeople.
- Both have isolated themselves from the rest of the world in fear and shame from said curses.
- Crowds have been horrified of them both when they are discovered, despite the films' protagonists trying to convince them that he/she is not. The theme of their stories also plays with the moral of not to judge by appearance, a contrast also played with their respective antagonists (Beast with Gaston, Elsa with Hans).
- Both have been attacked by the villain and a mob for the people's "safety", and were almost killed by the villain in the climax before the protagonist interferes.
- Both learn the true meaning of love in the end, and are "cured" of their respective curses (although Elsa still has her powers, she lifts the curse over Arendelle and learns how to control them for good).