Gaston The Hero
I just saw Beauty and the Beast and going into it I had heard many people demonize Gaston. I had even heard people say that he was arguably the worst of all Disney villains. Those people are wrong, closed minded, and unable to see the truth. Now before you begin steaming at the ears and foaming at the mouth please hear me out and read this post to the end. This post will also contain spoilers, you have been warned.
The movie made it clear that Gaston was a war hero. Let’s just soak that in for a moment. He spent his entire life since childhood training to be the best physically and then uses that training to serve his country. So we have a handsome, strong young man serving his country in a war. He fought hard and even made a close friend whom he kept close after everything had settled (more on Lefou later).
How Society Treated Gaston
Gaston was hailed a hero and society built up his ego due to this and completely neglected the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he was clearly suffering from (more on this later). Gaston wanted to live a normal civilian life, but was having a hard time readjusting as many soldiers do. He dreamed of having a wife, a home, a family (wow he was truly a monster).
Gaston Was Not A Womanizer
Gaston could have had any of the beautiful women that were throwing themselves at him, but he wanted someone with dignity and wit. He loved the idea that Belle was educated, unlike society who greatly frowned upon her education. Gaston was also aware that when Belle’s aging father passed away, she would be tossed to the curb. When Belle was teaching a young girl to read everyone ostracized her, everyone except Gaston. Gaston desired a wife with a brain, not one of the mindless crowd throwing themselves at him. He was rough around the corners, war will do that to a soldier, but he deeply respected and admired Belle. Am I saying Belle was bad for turning him down? Of course not (more on that later as well).
Gaston Was A True Friend
I mentioned Lefou earlier and now it’s time to talk about him. Gaston was likely aware that Lefou was gay, but that didn’t bother him in the least. If you don’t believe that Gaston knew Lefou was gay, it’s proven when they are singing and Lefou says “too far?” Gaston replies “yes,” and then they dial things back down. Gaston also pretended that Lefou was interested in women for Lefou’s safety. Can you imagine what a civilization that despises women learning would do to a gay man? Gaston refused to let anyone see Lefou in a light other than a friend and a good man.
Gaston Wasn’t Swayed By The Masses
Maurice comes back home after being imprisoned by a half man half beast. He tells the story of what happened and how this beast was now holding Belle against her will. Everyone laughs and belittles Maurice, except for Gaston. Gaston uses his position to stop everyone from belittling this man. He realizes that something has happened to Belle and Maurice is hallucinating in order to cope. Obviously there is no such thing as “beast-men,” but the panic of Belle being in danger has led Maurice to believe this is true.
He The Only Person To Help
Gaston spends many days (more than 5 as stated in the movie) helping Maurice look for Belle. He is also worried that Belle may have frostbite or been attacked by wolves, but is hopeful she ran away on an adventure and is safely back home. Maurice pushes the “black magic” story and even talks about a tree that has magically healed. His delusions pushed Gaston into a terrible PTSD war flashback. He ties up Maurice and leaves him for the wolves (which they had not encountered at all). Gaston is aware of Maurice’s ingenuity and knows he will find a way to freedom (this part may be a bit of a stretch).
Gaston Tries To Get Maurice Help
When Gaston returns home, Maurice has already turned everyone against him. Gaston is deeply worried about Maurice’s mental state and has to think on the fly. The man has been speaking of magical trees and beasts, and Belle could very well be dead by now. Gaston is left with little option, but to have Maurice taken for psychiatric help.
Gaston Is Aware Of Stockholm Syndrome
Belle returns and affirms her father’s claims that a beast exists. She shows them a magic mirror and the existence of the beast (that alone would be terrifying). She then states “he’s not bad,” but gives no further explanation. Gaston is already aware of Maurice’s story of the beast taking Belle prisoner and now has evidence of it’s existence. Belle never gives a good reason as to why this terrifying discovery of magic and related beast are actually good. Gaston would have undoubtedly seen war prisoners start to identify with their captors. He wouldn’t know it was called Stockholm Syndrome, but he would know that Belle was identifying with a captor.
Gaston Leads The Charge
So a terrifying creature born of magic has kidnapped a girl. Stories are conflicting and Gaston’s war training kicks in. This creature is dangerous and he needs to put an end to it. He has no idea about the enchantress, or who the beast was before, and had just recently found out about the existence of magic. Gaston takes the entire town, except for one man he leaves to watch over Belle and Maurice. This was done on purpose. With only the one man watching those two they should have been safe. Gaston knew they weren’t lying about the beast and needed to keep them away so they wouldn’t get hurt.
Who Is The Villain Then?
Isn’t it obvious? It’s society. The society was so stuck in it’s ways that a woman who read was a monster. Neither Belle nor Gaston agreed with the way things were going, but society loved Gaston and despised Belle. Gaston was a war hero with PTSD and wasn’t helped. Belle was oppressed by her culture. The beast was manipulated by his father. All of these characters were victims. If society helped Gaston integrate back into civilian life he would be happily married, not to Belle, but I’m sure he would have found a special someone. Then if Belle was allowed to be herself, she would be able to live out her dreams. If the prince had people around him to help deal with an abusive father he wouldn’t face the fate he did.
Gaston Wasn’t Bad Society Failed Him
Gaston lived a life of servitude, and like many veterans returned home to a world much different from what he knew. He didn’t need constant praise, he needed to be reintroduced into life. If people actually listened to him they would know what he sought, a normal life. It bothers me that so many people make Gaston out to be this terrible villain, so much worse than all the others. The man fought, protected, and served his country at great expense to his own life. If you want to make anyone out to be a villain it should be the cultural system that took advantage of all three main characters.