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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)

Origin: Beauty and the Beast (1991)

I wonder what his last name is.


Motivation: Gaston is not terribly forward thinking. He wants to marry Belle because she's "the most beautiful girl in town". First, that seems pretty subjective, even if it's a mass opinion (plus there's the caveat that "she's odd"). He doesn't seem interested in her in anyway, except that she's "the best" and he deserves "the best"?

Second, what are they going to talk about. You'd think he'd want someone who admires and worships him like those three blond girls. The only thing I can think is that he sees her as a conquest, a prey, but that's never really indicated.  She's going to poison his drink on the honeymoon and he'd never have clue one.


Character Strengths: Gaston is a well-loved man. That makes him extremely dangerous -- he has the entire town on his side. Including the curator of the insane asylum (how does he know him? Do I want to know?) He has excellent hunting skill, which makes him popular (especially the butchers). Side note: Gaston combines two common Disney villain characteristics -- foppishness and hunting. Disney's been making bank off hunter villains ever since Bambi (who may be in the sack in the beginning).


Evilness: Well, let's see. First he makes Le Fou hide in the snow to Belle's house for possibly most of a winter (montages are hard to gauge timewise). Then he puts his fiancee's father in an insane asylum as blackmail. When she refuses, Gaston turns the tides and brings the whole village to tear down that spooky castle that's been looming over them forever.  Also, shivving Beast in the back after he spares you?  Icing on the black cake.


Tools: Ehhh... he has a nice gun. He doesn't have tools so much as desirable characteristics -- both physical and charismatic. The best man in his corner is a midget named Le Fou (which is French for "the fou").


Complement to the Hero: Maximum points here. The whole point of "Beauty and the Beast" is that it's not about what you look like, but how you act. Now usually I have a hard time accepting villains that only exist be antagonists. But Gaston is funny and threatening at the same time. He's a perfect foil to the beast -- the pinnacle of handsomeness and adoration but a huge jerk and dumb as a tree trunk. The Beast could have been him if circumstances were different, but he chose to try to change. Gaston, however, would rather brute force his way through, becoming as monstrous as the thing he's hunting.


Fatal Flaw: He's an ungrateful bastard who never learned to lose. They're both about to fall to their doom, but Belle, who loves him, holds on to the Beast. But Gaston has no one, so he dies. Tragic irony or poetic justice, you tell me.



Method of Defeat/Death: After Gaston finishes his "Think of the Children!" speech, he leads the villagers on an assault on the castle. It doesn't go so well, since they're up against sentient knives, and Gaston's the only one with a gun.

He leaves his army behind and goes after the beast. With a crossbow, for some reason. Maybe he didn't want to damage the pelt.  Of course, the Beast is in one of his "moods", so he just lets Gaston beat him up. Until Belle comes back, and he does the "I am not left-handed". Blessed with fur, claws, horns, and testosterone, he makes short work of Gaston.

But when the latter pleads for his life, Beast experiences empathy/sympathy and sets him down. This gives Gaston the chance to strike a fatal blow. They both lose their balance. Belle grabs Beast's shirt, but Gaston falls to the codifying Disney death.



Final Rating: Five stars


PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
Willie the Giant (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
Hades (Hercules)
The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)
Jafar (Aladdin)
Shan Yu (Mulan)
Man (Bambi)
Clayton (Tarzan)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Cobra Bubbles (Lilo and Stitch)
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians)
Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound)
Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Scar (The Lion King)
Prince John (Robin Hood)
Edgar (The Aristocats)
Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
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