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Anti-Edwards: Beast

Well, folks, I've shown you why Belle far surpasses Bella, and now, let's see how much fellow protagonist trumps Edward.

That's right. This post is about the Beast (aka Adam).

Now, I've seen Bella and Edward get compared to Belle and Beast in many, many places. There's pics on DeviantArt of Edward/Bella cosplaying Beast/Belle and vice-versa. There's a ton of Twilight fanfic that either retells the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast or straight-up copy-pastes the Disney version with the names switched, and ninety percent of the time, Edward is Beast.

Which is funny, because I'd picture him more as Gaston, but I digress.

Beast is far more of a gentleman, a more romantic hero, and a better character all-around than Edward is or would ever hope to be. Let's see why.

Exhibit A: Change and Abuse (Or Lack Thereof)
Edward is abusive. I said it. We all know it. He tells Bella what she can and can't eat, where she can and can't go, who she can and can't see...He takes the engine out of her car so she can't see a male friend of hers, he bribes his adopted-sister to practically kidnap her over a weekend when he won't be around to watch her 24-7. He sneaks into her room and watches her sleep. He is controlling, emotionally abusive, indirectly threatens Bella...none of his actions even help her. When he breaks up with her, saying that she'd be better off, he does so in the woods, where there could be wild animals lurking anywhere, and just leaves her. Doesn't check to see if she's okay, doesn't offer to take her home, just leaves her.
We can all agree he's abusive, and an asshole.

Now, Beast on the other hand...for as much as nay-sayers like to claim he's abusive and that the Disney film promotes domestic abuse, he's not and it doesn't.

The Beast yells at Belle, frightens her when she enters his room when he told her not to, and...well, actually, that's it. People say that Beast is abusive because he yelled at her. But you know hat? Edward's behavior lasts the entire four-book series. Beast's...lasts a single night.
That's right. He snaps at Belle that she will eat with him and it's an order, not a request, and then he yells at her on the other side of her door when she refuses. That same night, he yells again when she enters the West Wing. After that, that's it. No more. He doesn't raise his voice to her anymore after that. (Unless you want to count the midquels as canon, and personally, I would rather not. (And I realize how ironic this is coming from someone sporking a BatB-Sue who has rooted herself around misquel-timeline, but bear with me on this.)) And unlike Edward, you can actually give him a pretty strong benefit of the doubt. Think about it: Beast has always been around people who do what he says, when he says it. He's never once had to think that he shouldn't do certain things--the only exception was when he was cursed by the enchantress. The fact that he can't go on acting and living like he does is a surprise to him, and when he realizes that he can't go on like that, he changes. There's also the fact that on that same night his only yelling towards Belle takes place, was a difficult and shocking one for both of them. Belle lost her freedom in exchange for her father's, and Beast was hoping this girl could fall for him and break the spell but quickly saw that it likely wasn't happening. His hopes were raised and then dashed all in the course of several hours, at the most. And in the West Wing...that rose was a timer. Belle was about to touch it. What if some petals were knocked loose? He could lose precious time, and that knowledge made him panic.

See, even here he at least has some excuse for his shouting. Edward...has nothing.

I should also point out that Edward repeatedly endangers Bella. He drives way over the speed-limit with her in the car with him, where he could potentially kill her. He talks about how her blood 'sings" to him and how hard it is for him not to eat her, yet he still comes around her, watches her sleep (people are highly vulnerable when asleep. There was nothing stopping him from eating her any of those times.), and demonstrates his strength and how she could never run from him.
If one pays attention to BatB, they'd notice that Beast actively takes his anger out on non-living things, and away from everyone else. When Belle refuses to eat with him, he first yells, then goes to his room to be away from everyone who could get hurt. Only there does he start to let out his anger in a physical manner, breaking non-enchanted, non-living, non-sentient furniture. Again, where no one can see him or get frightened.

Another thing I'd like to mention is that when Beast did yell, it wasn't really out of malicious intent. His words, the circumstances, everything really points to him throwing a tantrum as opposed to meaning anything bad. He tells Belle that if she won't eat with him, she can just starve, but he never makes any attempt to enforce that. It feels more like a heat-of-the-moment thing than an actual attempt to starve her out or hurt her. If he truly meant it, he'd try to enforce what he'd said. He never did that. He just retreated to his room.

And now for the second part of Exhibit A, the changing. When Beast realizes that he can't go on the way he's been his whole life, he changes. And not because Belle changed him herself--no, no, he changed for her. He was amazed that this girl would actually take him back home to take care of his injuries, even after what he'd said to her, amazed that someone was yelling ight back at him and pointing out that it was mostly his fault, not hers, and eventually, he fell in love with her. She became his friend, and then he fell in love. And when he realized he did care for her, then he began to change: he kept his temper in-check, not lashing out at anyone for the rest of the film (unless you count the rooftop battle, and really, can you blame him in this case?), behaving more like a person and less like an animal, and generally was a lot nicer. He realized that the way he'd been was not a good thing, and he had to change. Again, Belle didn't make him change, he did it all on his own.
Edward...never does. He claims that his life was dark until Bella appeared. He claims Bella is his greatest gift, that he loves her so much and all that jazz, but does he ever change his ways? Nope! Nope, even at the end of the series, he's still a racist, abusive jack-ass. He never tries to change for Bella. Not even a little.
If soeone loves another that much, wouldn't they want to better themselves for them, make themselves worthy of the other's love? Beast would and he does, Edward wouldn't and doesn't.

Then again, considering that Bella fell for him anyway, when he was still a douche, whereas Belle didn't even like Beast until he started to be nicer...Well. We already know what Bella's like anyway, so let's not get into that and just move on.

Exhibit B: Gifts
This is probably a silly thing to delve into, but I feel it needs to be said.

Beast and Edward show their love by giving the girls a gift. Edward gives Bella expensive things, frivolous, generic things. Like a car. Or a diamond. And then he kinda rubs his wealth in Bella's face by saying of course he can afford this, he's rich, and he cheapens his gift of the diamon by saying he has tons more lying around. With that being said, it feels more like a "Oh hey, here ya go, I don't want it," rather than "Here's a token of my love." I mean, really, if I have a ton of espensive jewelry, and I give you one with a casual "I got plenty more, one missing won't matter," would you seriously think I meant it as a token of love? It sounds more like a flaunting of wealth as well as an attempt to take it off his own hands.

Beast gives Belle..a library. A ginormous library, where she's free to sit and read whenever she pleases--it's her own little sanctuary. And here's the thing: books are Belle's passion. Reading is her passion. Therefore, the Beast's gift of a library is much more meaningful than Edward's gift of cars and jewelry and expensive clothing. The jewels and clothing are incredibly generic, while the library shows that Beast at least knows what Belle is interested in and what she loves; he gave her something he knew she would like.

(And oh my God, look at the guys' emotions when giving their gifts. Edward is all smug and condescending, Beast is awkward and nervous, hoping Belle will like his gift to her rather than certain she will. That just feels more meaningful, and sweet, all around too.)

Exhibit C: "I let her go."
There's a familiar saying: "If you love someone, you set them free."

Now, Edward tells Bella over and over that he can't turn her into a vampire because he believes they don't have souls and he can't bring himself to do that to her. He thinks himself a monster, and he can't make her one too, he says. But he also claims he can't live without her.
So, when Bella is dying from giving birth to Renesmee, Edward...turns her.

He makes her into what he thinks is something monstrous. He refuses to let Bella go, to have her go to any sort of afterlife or whatever there might be. Earlier he said he didn't think vampires had souls. Well, by refusing to let Bella go and by turning her into a vampire, he effectively damns her. He is so selfish that he refuses to let her go, even if it would save her soul or whatever.

Beast, on the other hand, is willing to let the one he loves go, even if it damns himself.
After he and Belle dance together, Belle discovers that her beloved father is lost and sick in the woods, and could be dying. Beast is horrified by this and, despite knowing he has very, very little time left, despite his hoping Belle is in love with him and can break the spell, he lets her go. Forever.
"I release you. You are no longer my prisoner. I haven't considered you that for a long time now."
He lets Belle go to where he's sure she'll be happier, knowing he could never bring himself to make her stay away from her possibly-dying father, from the (he thinks) happy life she once had. Even if it means he will never see her again, even if it means he'll spend the rest of his life as a monster, even if it means he'll forever be apart from the girl he loves...he can't bring himself to keep her. If it will make her happy, he is willing to let her go. And why?

That's why.

Edward can't let Bella go, in any sense of the word. Beast can let Belle because he feels it's better for her, and because he knows it would be wrong to force her to stay. Beast releases Belle because he loves her that much. Edward damns Bella because he can't handle being without her, and it feels more like a selfish, fake love.

Bottom Line
Beast is far better than Edward is, and one can not seriously compare them. The Beast realizes how he acts is wrong, and changes himself for the better, to become a better person for Belle, for the woman he loves. Edward does not. Edward controls Bella, frightens her, and is the very picture of domestic abuse. Beast is not. Edward showers Bella with expensive gifts that are pretty generic and then flaunts his wealth in her face and says the diamonds he gives her aren't too special because he has a lot more lying around. Beast gives Belle something she truly loves, because that's what you do when you give a gift. Edward damns Bella because he is too selfish to let her go on to something better. Beast is willing to damn himself to being a monster forever if Belle will be happier.

In the end, Beast is a far bigger man, better romantic, and better protagonist than Edward can ever hope to be. And now if you'll all excuse me, I need to go rewatch my copy of the film.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 26th, 2012 11:31 am (UTC)
Which is funny, because I'd picture him more as Gaston

No way. :P Gaston at least takes action in the plot, Edward sits around being passive-aggressive, whiny, and stalking Bella. Edward sits around, complains, and ignores the attacks from his sparklepire enemies until they're right on top of him. Gaston goes out and takes action and makes plans and socialises with the other people in the village. Gaston is functionally illiterate and probably not that old, Edward is ostensibly well-educated and certainly old enough to know better. In terms of being horrible people and abusive toward the girls they want, they're alike, and Gaston stirring up the lynch mob is akin to Edward ignoring how many innocent humans are being killed by his fellow sparklepires and aiding and abetting the sparklepires when it suits him.

I think BatB is *much* better than Twilight, and while I think there's a case that Disney did not do enough to ameliorate the issues of the original fairytale's moral to accept abusive spouses and change them, this post was a good read.

Edited at 2012-05-26 11:32 am (UTC)
May. 26th, 2012 08:25 pm (UTC)
Of course the Beast trumps Edward! Hay yeah he does! :D You just pretty much nailed everything right on the head.

And hey, worth noting, as he matures, not only mentally, but he also does so physically. He's standing upright, wears clothing, acts less animalistic, and even his voice softens!

You're right too, all of his yelling at Belle? He's practically acting like a child throwing a tantrum! Even when he says she should starve if she doesn't obey...yeah, he doesn't do anything about it. He just leaves in a huff, and that's it. Heat of the moment, like you said, and likely didn't even mean it. If anything, he probably even meant it as going to bed without dinner, if nothing else.
May. 31st, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
Agreed on all counts, which is why it upsets me when many people claim that Beast/Adam is abusive.

/Which is funny, because I'd picture him more as Gaston, but I digress./

What's sad is that Jacob Black's story arc is basically the opposite of the Beast's. Jacob was a nice kid when he was still human, but soon after he became a werewolf, his personality started to go downhill.

/And when he realized he did care for her, then he began to change: he kept his temper in-check, not lashing out at anyone for the rest of the film/

And when he and the servants are transformed back into their human forms, he hugs them in joy, showing that he truly does care about them, despite all of his temper tantrums earlier in the film.

/He never tries to change for Bella./

Probably because Meyer sees no reason for him to change. She likes him just the way he is.
Sep. 11th, 2012 06:32 pm (UTC)
Great article! Just read the Bella/Belle one as well, and I completely agree.

About the development thing... Smeyer has said that vampires can't change. They're forever frozen the way they were when they were turned, which is why it affects them so badly when something DOES change for them. It's also why their loves are forever fun; the thrill of young love never goes away (never mind that developing a deeper bond is beautiful - that would require emotional depth!).
So Smeyer made Edward incapable of character development. And really, when you've THAT in your universe, you can hardly expect characters to have the great development arc Beast has.
Charsi Kashya
Jul. 27th, 2014 12:52 pm (UTC)
Turning Bella was her own choice, however. She even gave some hints that she keeps the child and risks endangering her life so she will be emergency-turned. Foolish and flippant her decision may be, but she wasn't forced into it in the slightest. The vampires even tried to talk some sense into her, but I don't vilify Edward for not letting her die just so he can force his own religious views on her.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )