(Also, I just realized, tomorrow is the one year birthday of WBI. Fun stuff.)
Classification :: Σ1357#*
Role :: Lone Wolf (autonomous villain)
Motivation :: evil (inflating himself at the expense of others), psychology (entitlement), lifestyle (always gets what he wants), personal/material gain (obtaining Belle as his wife)
Bonus :: minions (LeFou), lair (the tavern)
handsome—animators originally had trouble designing Gaston because they’d never drawn a handsome villain before (they solved that problem by the time they made Frozen)
skilled—true to his claims, Gaston is a good hunter, which is how he uses antlers in all of his decorating
vain—at the same time, his skills are non-redeeming; when it comes to Belle, there in town it’s only she who is as beautiful as he, and his egoism and entitlement disgust us more
prejudiced—on top of that, Gaston is condescending, especially to his love interest and her father, not to mention his own sidekick
womanizer—sure, Gaston wants Belle and won’t take no for an answer, but as he says to the other girls, just because he gets married doesn’t mean they’ll end their ren-dez-vouses
conniving—he’s not going to let the consent of one measly woman get in the way of obtaining his trophy wife; likewise, no one plans to persecute harmless crackpots like Gaston
musical—Who has brains like Gaston? Entertains like Gaston? Who can make up these endless refrains like Gaston?
consequentialist—his ends justify his means, so bribing Mssr. D’arque, spying, abducting Belle’s father, and killing the beast are all morally okay with him as long as he gets Belle
cowardly—and despite all his bravado, in the end Gaston begs the Beast like a mewling quim because as much as he desires mercy he never gives it himself (what a jerkface)
fallen—in his selfishness and arrogance Gaston is the cause of his undoing; he falls to his death because his faith in himself becomes his greatest weakness and when he chooses to make himself the most important, he loses the opportunity for group strength (or, y’know, he falls like Satan)
anyone can be Gaston—the fact that “no one’s slick as Gaston” is rather irrelevant when paired with “every guy here’d like to be you Gaston.” Gaston became the people’s hero, and as soon as people accept the prejudices of their heroes, their relationship with the hero’s enemies becomes one of judgement rather than justice. Which, like this fan theory says, is terrifying to consider.
what’s consent?—I’ve seen it argued that Gaston wasn’t really a villain because his crime was hitting on the girl (maybe the dude didn’t get to the attempted murder at the end?). To be fair, flirting itself isn’t bad, if done right. If we didn’t let other people know we liked them there wouldn’t be relationships. Gaston, however, doesn’t flirt. He expects. He expects Belle to love him, he expects her to marry him, he expects her to satisfy him, and he expects control in the matter. And sure, maybe it’s not the worst thing ever, but if we don’t villainize those who disrespect their love interests and favor entitlement over consent, are we not passively allowing, if not advocating for, such people and behaviors? That ain’t okay.
foiled again—Gaston and Beast are foils. Where Gaston is handsome, Beast is ugly; where Gaston is admired in society, Beast is reviled. But when placed in the same situation, given the chance to value inner beauty over the outer, Gaston ultimately fails where Beast eventually succeeds. Gaston never realizes that selflessness, rather than selfishness, is what creates value in life and love.
I’ve thought in the past that Gaston should have won (he had a firearm, for Pete’s sake, he could have shot Beast from far away), but put in this light, I don’t think Gaston ever would have won. Unless he experienced a change in himself, like Beast, he’d never really achieve the things he doesn’t already have. He’d be static. Forever.
And now: the villain song.