Beauty and the Beast
She had been raised on a healthy diet of fairy tales and happy endings, Disney princesses being her earliest form of role models. Rachel found a kindred spirit in every one of them at one point or another in her life. Ariel spoke to her as a child with her beautiful voice and her need for something else, something more. When she was older and the real world was just a little too antagonistic for her liking, she was Cinderella, the benevolent lady who always took every instance of oppression in stride with a smile held perfectly in place. Jasmine had a sense of adventure that she craved for. She used to imagine New York as a place of wonder for a small town girl such as herself (Although, the phrase small town girl had never really suited her in the first place.), much like the city of Arabia had been for the princess. And Aurora, well who wouldn’t want to be her? The epitome of a princess, with the ever-loyal prince charming travelling through thorn-filled woods and battling a magical dragon for his true love’s kiss.
But through it all, the princess she identified most with was not a princess at all. One constant truth in Rachel Berry’s life was her conviction of her similarity to Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Rachel was Belle in real life. She just embodies everything about that character. Her larger than life personality, her firm certainty that there was something more out there for her than the ‘provincial life’ she was living, her gracefulness, the fact that nobody in the place she lived in ever understood her and her beautiful dreams. The isolation she felt because of it. Rachel understood it all. And so, like all authentic followers of the Disney way of life, she had spent her whole life dreaming of her Beast, the one person in the whole world who would understand her and love her for all the things that turned everybody else away.
She imagined meeting him as a struggling actress, trying to make it in Broadway. He would be a cold and reserved playwright. Or maybe a director. They would meet one night when she, while working as a lounge singer to make ends meet, unknowingly performed for this man whose reclusive personality hid a dark and tormented past that could only be soothed by the beauty of her voice. She had imagined a clashing of personalities and misunderstood notions that will be resolved in a highly romantic and emotional manner, where the quiet and reserved Beast finally confessses his pent-up feelings for her in an outburst of affections, releasing the prince that had been figthing to get through. And she had imagined a happily ever after.
Never in a million years could she have imagined the Beast as a 6’3 gentle giant, awkward and naive. She didn’t imagine her Beast as a sweet and innocent young man, whose biggest flaws were his need to conform and a peculiar inability to be articulate. She had imagined being swept away by a dark past, not teenage pregnancies or peer pressure. She imagined the protection of a dark and brooding man. She didn’t picture being subjected to vulnerability through thoughtless decisions and cowardly acts. She never thought his beastly acts would come in the protection of his own reputation or in the protection of another girl, an actual princess, unlike her. She didn’t imagine her Beast to be him.
But then again, she was more than a character in a fairy tale. Her flaws were much larger than Belle’s, her grating personality and insane need for the spotlight being the most obvious ones. She had a tendency to be condescending. Her personality, though colorful and exciting, have always been too much for any sane person. And she was pushy, determined to the point of becoming overbearing. The intense way she craves for everything sometimes borders upon dysfuncional. She knows this.
The clashing of personalities were still there. She was loud and agressive, never keeping her opinions to herself. She liked to think that like Belle, she always made it a point to think for herself.
Sometimes she talks more than she should.
He on the other hand, well he was more reserved, a little like the Beast she imagined. He never says much, and she knows it was because he was painfully aware of his tendency to fumble and blunder through his words.
Sometimes he doesn’t say enough.
As Belle, she had imagined her Beast to confess his love in a dramatic manner, sweeping her off her feet with words full of passion and a kiss that would spin her world off its axis.
People always did tell her that she was a drama queen.
In reality, her life was much more subdued than in it was in the confines of her inventive imagination. His confession came like a sudden gust of wind, quiet and understated just like he was. Her world didn’t tilt off its axis. Instead, all she felt was a lightness that seemed to grow from somewhere inside her, a crazy kind of happiness she never felt before.
His transformation into the prince charming she had dreamed of didn’t come like a sudden burst of miracle either. It was gradual, almost unnoticeable (She thinks it began when he held her gaze firmly and told her that they were “going to win this thing”.). But she saw it in those smiles he seemed to have reserved especially for her, in the way he held her hand with pride, as if he was daring anyone to come up to him and tell him that they didn’t belong together. And in the new-found determination that colored his eyes as he worked harder for everything.
As she grew older, she realized that maybe defining one’s self through a character from a fairy tale wasn’t the most realistic judgement she had ever made. In the grand scheme of things, her life was nothing like the one she had envisioned in her fantasies. He was nothing like the Beast she used to dream of, and she was so much more than Belle could ever be. It was as much as of a surprise to her as it was to everybody else when she realized that she wouldn’t have it any other way.