Oh! I actually know this one, I think. English majors time to shine. Beauty and the Beast is based on a fairy that was most famously written down in 1757 France by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. The story is meant to educate young women on the realities of married life, and the character of Belle has to make a lot of choices in the story which has various impact on her life. "Couverture” was a law for women, meaning that “all women were legally ‘covered over’ or absorbed into the body of their husbands, fathers, brothers, or sons. She might yet still retain … reason, but she is as a statue, effectively silenced and unable to act for herself".
So in the book every time Belle is presented with a choice she is forming an allegory to women at that time, which (according to the author) leaves a women with no power save for the power of making judicious choices with the small power you're allowed by men. In the story Belle's sisters both marry handsome and wealthy husbands but the husbands beat them and treat them terribly, while Belle marries a hideous monster who treats her well and respectfully.
It's basically a survival tool for young women of that time, and is generally looked upon as (at least a very early) an example of feminist text.
There are definitely some questionable things and I also have many questions, but it sure is a fun show to work on.
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