Last weekend, I saw the new, live-action Beauty and the Beast and it was absolutely beautiful. I wasn’t a huge fan of the autotune-heavy music, but the casting was perfect, the writing was fun, and overall, the movie was an amazing ride. The runtime of the movie is just over two hours, and Belle and Adam (aka the Beast) take almost this entire time to realize they’re in love. I noticed a contrast between that relationship and another story in my life right now. In Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie creates a relationship that is almost the exact opposite of Belle and Adam. Ifemelu and Obinze meet each other at a high school party and fall in love almost instantly. I wanted to further explore the differences between these two relationships:
The protagonists of Americanah were, apparently, not even originally supposed to end up together. Ifemelu showed up to this party expecting Obinze to leave with her best friend, not herself. But, when their eyes met for the first time, she “realized, quite suddenly, that she wanted to breathe the same air as Obinze” (68). This reaction is instant and complete, and the couple shares their first kiss the same night they met. Only a few weeks later, the teenagers say “I love you” for the first time. In fact, they both recognize the ‘fact’ that it was “love at first sight for both of [them]” (75).
Conversely, when Belle first sees the Beast, she is repulsed by his appearance. She only stays in his castle to save her father from imprisonment. Adam was “mean and he was coarse and unrefined” toward Belle at the beginning of their relationship. In fact, their ‘relationship’ doesn’t even start as platonic, let alone romantic: the two characters start out as captor/prisoner. The romance blossoms after prolonged experience to each other and a couple of life-savings.
These two relationships could clearly, not be more different. One young couple has an instant connection and the other must discover feelings that were not there to begin with. Personally, I think that both romances are developed in an effective and way both stories are beautifully told. I highly recommend reading Americanah as well as going to see Beauty and the Beast in a theater near you!