"Beauty and the Beast" is a classic Disney fairy tale about a bright, beautiful woman named Belle who is held captive by a beastly looking prince.

Although Belle is technically the Beast's prisoner, the pair winds up falling in love and go on to live happily ever after — and many people have a problem with that. 

photo: Disney

Critics say Belle suffers from "Stockholm Syndrome." The condition is characterized by the feelings of trust or affection that victims develop toward their captors after being taken and held in captivity. 

Because Belle ends up falling in love with the man (er, monstrous creature?) holding her hostage, some people condemn the film for glorifying psychological abuse. 

But Emma Watson —  who plays Belle in the 2017 recreation of the 1991 classic — rejects the theory that her character is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. 

Watson admitted that Belle's relationship with the Beast initially concerned her.

Emma Watson Belle
photo: Disney

Before she took on the role, Watson had to ask herself some serious questions about the movie's message.

"It’s something I really grappled with at the beginning, the kind of Stockholm Syndrome question about this story,” the actress told Entertainment Weekly

But after careful consideration, Watson decided that Belle's behavior didn't follow the Stockholm Syndrome patterns.

"Belle actively argues and disagrees with [Beast] constantly," Watson attested. 

"She has none of the characteristics of someone with Stockholm Syndrome because she keeps her independence, she keeps that freedom of thought.”

She said her character is too "defiant" to be classified as a victim of the condition.

Belle Stockholm Syndrome Emma Watson Beauty and the Beast
photo: Disney

"I also think there is a very intentional switch where, in my mind, Belle decides to stay," Watson insisted. "She's giving him hell. There is no sense of 'I need to kill this guy with kindness.' Or any sense that she deserves this."

Watson continued, "In fact, she gives as good as she gets. He bangs on the door, she bangs back. There's this defiance that, 'You think I'm going to come and eat dinner with you and I'm your prisoner? Absolutely not.'"

The actress even believes that there are certain aspects of Belle and the Beast's relationship that other couples should strive for.

"The beautiful thing about the love story is that they form a friendship first," Watson said. "There is this genuine sharing, and the love builds out of that, which in many ways is more meaningful than a lot of love stories, where it was love at first sight. They are having no illusions about who the other one is. They have seen the worst of one another, and they also bring out the best."


But wait... didn't Watson just describe the *literal* definition of Stockholm Syndrome?

I guess that's up for viewers to decide. 

Watch the controversial romance unfold in theaters on March 17.