A Redditor recently posed an interesting theory that sheds a new light on the vain Beauty and the Beast villain, Gaston. As we all know, Gaston isn't a real prince, but according to DashFerLev's idea, he could still be representing the classic, heroic men of Disney days past.
When re-examining Gaston, he might be a character used to usher out an old stereotype of Disney princes and bring in a new era of Disney men who look for more in a women than simply good looks. Here are all the reasons why Gaston could be seen as the last of the "classic" Disney princes:
He's extremely handsome
I mean, he's not really my taste - or Belle's, apparently - but he's supposed to be the best looking guy in town. The man has got a thick neck, a cleft chin, and a hairy chest. By the standards of 1700s France, I guess he's quite a catch.
He must be reasonably wealthy
The dude sure does buy a lot of eggs. This might not be the best or most sound indicator of wealth, but if he eats 5 dozen eggs a day, that makes about 1,800 eggs a month.
As DashFerLev points out, since this was pre-industrial farming, there's no way those eggs all came from their quiet little village. I doubt that Gaston would be importing his eggs if he was living on meager wages.
He's your stereotypically masculine protector
Gaston was absolutely a sleazy guy, but we can't deny that he seems like the masculine type that would be otherwise considered a plus in a lot of princes.
Snow White, Aurora, and Ariel all had princes who defended and protected them from dangerous perils. Isn't that exactly what Gaston did when he stormed the Beast's castle? Furthermore, Gaston wanted Belle to tend house and take care of their strapping young boys. I feel like given the time period, any of the other princesses would probably be facing similar lives dedicated mostly to child-rearing. While it wouldn't be a desired position for Belle, his expectations were not insane.
He wants to marry Belle solely because of her looks
Under most other Disney love stories prior to Beauty and the Beast, the prince takes no time at all to determine that he wants to marry the princess. All it took for Aurora, Cinderella, and Snow White was a brief one-time encounter. No one can convince me that a decision like that was based on much more than looks.
At least with Gaston he has known Belle for a while and openly admits that he wants her because she's the only one in town who's as good looking as he is.
He's inexplicably adored by the town
When Gaston feels dismissed, rejected, and publicly humiliated by Belle, the entire town is more than willing to jump into song and defend his character. There's no man in town more admired than him AND he's everyone's favorite guy.
Sure, that could just be LeFou being a good bro and talking up his best friend in his time of need, but everyone else seems pretty gung-ho about joining in on the chorus. Nobody is forcing these townspeople's' hands, or vocal cords.
He went to save Belle and protect the town
Gaston storming the Beast's castle to kill him is when audiences really decided that his character went from being a narcissistic, misogynist to being a full-fledged villain.
But as was mentioned earlier, in a different Disney story, Gaston may have been hailed a hero by audiences. Belle was being held hostage by a monster, as was reported by Belle's own father. Gaston formed a mob and went to kill him to protect the townspeople from what he thought was a threat.
Generally speaking, the town macho going to save the damsel in distress and protect his people would be a good thing. Instead, we all reveled as Gaston plummeted to his death. It's even suggested that his death was symbolic of the end of the "handsome prince saves useless girl" Disney period.
Of course, this theory is by no means trying to say that Gaston isn't a real villain or that we should sympathize with him as a character. But it is an interesting idea that Disney was using Gaston as a means to usher in a new wave of Disney Princes and Princesses.
Yes, the women evolved to become stronger, more dynamic characters around Belle's time, but the role of men in Disney films did as well. Beauty and the Beast was followed by movies like Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tarzan, all of which feature strong women whose "princes" are more like equal partners than saviors.
It's almost as if Disney was using Gaston to make a mockery of the classic Prince charming trope. They created a character that held all of the same characteristics as a Disney prince, but, in the case of Gaston, to a fault.
Now it's time to let me know what you guys think of this theory. Was Gaston truly symbolic of the death of the classic Disney princes, or was he simply the villain the whole time? Let me know in the comments section!