In A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature, Wilfred L. Guerin explains that up until WWII, women were portrayed as the weak, fragile being who needed the male figure to depend on and to protect them. When the war broke out more and more men were called to fight. It became necessary for women to go work in factories this taught women that they didn't need a man to depend on, to lead them were they should go. It showed them that they could think for themselves and taught them to be more independent. After the men came back from war, women rose to the challenge and began voicing their rights to be equal as men, this brought around major waves of feminism (254).
The first wave of feminism brought about "establishing the legal [policies] that women are human beings and cannot be treated like property" (254). Women focused on gaining those rights that men had, such as the right to vote. Guerin states that after WWII since many of the women had been working in factories they expected to be full time workers when the men came home from war. Women focused on gaining "gender equality in social, political, legal and economic rights" (255) during the second wave of feminism. The second wave of feminism not only wanted to establish women rights, but also women's difference from men.
Through the "Beauty" character we can see how evident these changes in culture have influenced the modern interpretations of "Beauty and the Beast." Because Beauty's character is independent, she goes after what she wants and she's not going to give up easily. She stands up for what she believes in and she's able to handle things on her own without turning to a male figure.