So I’ve discovered a surprising number of people I know didn’t know this, and I thought it was a common trivia, so I think I’ll mention it here:
Beauty and the Beast is an allegory for a new bride’s fear of sex from her groom and her own sexuality, and eventually learning to embrace both and becoming empowered through it.
Considering the socio-norm back in the day was to marry young women between families as economical arrangements, a new bride would find the prospect of a (usually older) gentleman who demands sex (or at least, has the expectation of sex—for consummation of the marriage at the very least) to be terrifying and beastly, and can be seen a danger on her innocence and purity.
Going by the original tale (I’ve just used the Disney screencaps just for the photoset!): the beauty (new bride) is removed from her family and home (her comfort and the only place she knows) to go live with her new spouse out of an arrangement her father was forced into (an arranged marriage), bracing herself for the worst sort of monster—one who will be violent and rageful and subject her to a life of harm and terror… only to discover that, when she lives with the beast, he’s an intellectual thrill and a delight to bond with. Still, she does not love him, and so he allows her to return home (by her own choice!), only to discover she does indeed love him when she receives a vision that the beast is sick and dying. She rushes back to his side (again, by her choice!), and through this acceptance of friendship and newfound adoration, she sees her spouse not as a beast out to consume her or ravish her, but as a man and very human, and she learns to take charge of her own sexuality—becoming a woman in her own right.
It’s an easy story to paint as romanticizing an abusive relationship, so I think it’s a pity more people don’t realize it has its roots in empowering a woman’s own view of sex and her own sexual destiny!
/the more you know