Emma Watson: Belle's struggle is symbolic for young women

Actress Emma Watson has told how she used her character in Beauty And The Beast to battle against the oppression of young women.

In the remake of the classic Disney film, the Harry Potter star takes on the role of inventor Belle, whose ingenious washing machine is destroyed by suspicious local villagers.

“I think that happens a lot with women and a lot with young girls,” Emma, 26, said in an interview with American publication People.

“Them destroying the washing machine is symbolic, not just of her breaking something she has spent hours working on, but them trying to break her spirit and trying to push her and mould her into an acceptable version of herself.

“It was very important to me that Belle meaningfully tried to escape.”

Describing the character of Belle as a childhood hero, she said: “That energy, that spirit, is really what I identified with in her.

“She takes the road less travelled – Belle is no sheep.”

But the story, which sees Belle imprisoned by the Beast before eventually falling in love with him and saving his life, has been criticised for suggesting women should persevere with abusive relationships.

Responding to the challenge, Emma said: “It’s something I really grappled with at the beginning, the kind of Stockholm Syndrome question.

“Belle actively argues and disagrees with him (Beast) constantly, she gives as good as she gets, there’s this defiance.

“They form a friendship first and the love builds out of that, which is more meaningful than a lot of stories where it was love at first sight.

“That is a big problem with a lot of traditionally written fairytales, where a girl gives up everything that’s important to her for a guy.”

Beauty And The Beast is set to come to UK cinemas on March 17.

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