This weekend, I went to see the new live action Beauty and the Beast. I had seen it before, but as I sat there, I suddenly saw myself in Belle. Belle- bookworm, town “weirdo,” thinker, loner, introvert. Sitting and listening to the opening song, I got teary-eyed. I felt such a connection with Belle in that song. It was a love song to the introvert in me.
The song, named “Belle”, shows Belle interacting with the people in her town. She leaves her home and, one by one, greets people on the street. This is an important distinction for the introvert. Belle isn’t shy. Shyness and introversion are not the same thing. A shy person may suffer low self-esteem and often finds social interaction scary. An introvert may well be comfortable in his or her own skin, but simply does not enjoy a lot of social interaction.
Anyway, Belle greets the townspeople and comments about each one’s daily activities. I think this is meant to point out what Belle considers to be the boring nature of her small town, but for me, it points out another thing about us introverts. Introverts spend a lot of time observing others quietly, so they often notice details that others don’t and often ignore.
For the most part, Belle says little more than hello to each person, but ask her about the book she is reading and she will talk your ear off. In fact, in the original version of the song, she gets excited describing her latest book only to get cut off by the baker as he moves on with his morning work. Introverts are not likely to find small talk entertaining and will usually avoid it. But if you ask them about their passions, they will open up.
For Belle, her passion is reading and by extension, imagining and thinking. Introverts tend to be thinkers, people who spend plenty of time in their own heads. And introverts have at least one hobby that is done in solitude, be it reading, writing, art, gaming, etc.
As Belle walks through town, the town reacts to her. What they say about her could easily be said about me:
“Look there she goes, that girl is strange, no question.
Dazed and distracted can’t you tell?
Never part of any crowd.
‘Cause her head’s up on some cloud.
No denying she’s a funny girl, that Belle.
Look there she goes, that girl is so peculiar. I wonder if she’s feeling well.
[Group Of Women]
With a dreamy far off look.
[Group Of Men]
And her nose stuck in a book.”
Society doesn’t seem to know what to do with introverts. We get misunderstood and mislabeled all the time. Antisocial. Weird. Shy. Strange. Dreamy. Loner. Unambitious. Lacking in leadership. Lacking self-confidence. In the movie, Belle has no friends in the town. Instead, while she is friendly, she keeps to herself mostly, living in her books, her dreams, and her mind. And yet, she isn’t sad or lonely. She craves adventure, but she is happy when reading, spending one-on-one time with a loved one, and interacting with animals.
Moving past that first song, we find out that Belle is being pursued by the very extroverted Gaston. Now, Gaston obviously has other things going on, namely, narcissism. But he also lives for the attention of others, for the energy of a crowd. He is Belle’s opposite in many ways and she finds him, among other things, exhausting.
Eventually, Belle is in Beast’s castle. And like any introvert, she is actually quite content to live in a mostly empty castle with a furry creature, a huge library, and a handful of talking furniture. That actually sounds pretty great to me. To be honest, I was disappointed when the Beast transformed, followed by a party. I thought it was better the other way. Maybe Belle did too because she asks him, “how would you feel about growing a beard?”
It’s not every day that I find someone like me in a movie. Actually, it is pretty rare. And here was a movie with an introverted protagonist who got to have her adventure and save the day. For that, all I can say is, thank you Disney. Have you seen the movie? If so, did you see yourself in Belle? If you saw yourself in Gaston, we may need to have a talk. Happy movie watching!
Lyrics retrieved from:
Edited by Viveca Shearin