Walt Disney Studios chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg commissioned Beauty and the Beast as an animated musical with a strong heroine and hired first-time screenwriter Linda Woolverton to write it. Basing her on the heroine of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s 1756 fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast”, Woolverton adapted Belle into a stronger and less passive character for the film. Inspired by the women’s rights movement, Woolverton wanted Belle to be a unique Disney heroine different from The Little Mermaid’s popular Ariel, and thus deliberately conceived the character as a feminist in an effort to avoid the criticism Disney had long been receiving due to the studio’s reputation of depicting its female characters as victims.

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