Essay by Starfirehawk
The White Rose and the Clear CrystalThere are many significant symbols in Beauty and the Beast. In the First Season episode “Temptation,” both Catherine and Vincent want to give each other a special and significant gift to commemorate the anniversary of their first year together. Catherine hand sews a leather pouch suspended on a long cord for Vincent and places a carved white rose inside to give to Vincent. Vincent journeys deep into the earth to bring back a treasure for Catherine. He has Mouse assist him in creating a quartz crystal necklace on a silver chain for Catherine.
They exchange their gifts with tenderness and appreciation. Both of them wear their necklaces near their hearts to honor their “dream” of spending a life together. At Winterfest (Season 2, “Dead of Winter”) we see Catherine’s crystal dangling between her breasts: a sensual phallic symbol. Vincent holds the white rose in his hands and contemplates his love for Catherine and the risk they would take by traveling with her to a lake outside the city (Season 2, “Remember Love”).
In the traditional tale of Beauty and the Beast the theft of a rose by Beauty’s father creates a debt to the Beast that must be fulfilled by Beauty staying with the Beast in his enchanted castle. In the Disney version the Beast must win Beauty’s love and commitment to marry him before the last petal of a red rose falls and he dies. Beauty must teach the Beast to treat her with patience, kindness, and respect; she humanizes him while developing compassion for him in his loneliness. Ironically, Vincent teaches Catherine to be courageous, compassionate and loving. He affirms that is what he sees in her and she is transformed from a shallow rich girl into a champion for the weak.
Researching the symbolic meaning of the white rose turned up an intriguing connection to an ancient book of Alchemy with a “White Queen” and mercury, female, lunar, cold energy. “…The two principles of the material prima then reappear as the Red King (“sulphur of the wise”) emerging from the womb of the White Queen (mercury, or the White Rose). They unite in the fire of love and from their union comes perfection, the Philosopher’s Stone: the catalyst for turning base metals into gold and the key to enlightenment.” (from The Secret Language of Symbols by David Fontana, PhD, pages 248-249). If the white rose is the symbol for Catherine, then she takes on a greater significance as part of a transforming miracle, when combined through love with the Red King (Vincent) that combine to create something new and pure. This byproduct of their love changes the people around them and it has changed all of us.
According to Florapedia the white rose is symbolic for purity, virtue, innocence, sympathy, spirituality, and secrecy. It is a traditional wedding flower (true love), as well as used at funerals (honor and reverence). It can signify new beginnings or farewell. Vincent and Catherine long for each other but restrain themselves from making love, maintaining a pure and innocent tenderness towards one another. The unfulfilled yearning heightens their bond and allows them to feel connected even though they are physically apart. A red rose would symbolize passionate love, unrestrained while the white rose captures the significance of their spiritual link. The secret, hidden white rose within the leather bag reinforces it’s symbolism as something precious, rare and withheld privately.
Vincent selects a perfectly clear (pure) quartz crystal from the cave in the depths of the Earth to give to Catherine as the symbol she will have for him. It is suspended from a silver chain (silver is associated with the moon and virgins). In David Fontana’s book on symbols, there is an association between quartz and the Virgin Mary (p. 198). According to the New Age Directory, a quartz crystal can symbolize a person’s inner being, be a tool for meditation, assist in telepathic thought and be an amulet to be used in ritual divination.
The hardness and the shape of the crystal can also be perceived to symbolize Vincent’s masculinity while the soft petals of a rose opening can be symbolic for Catherine’s femininity. They each wear the symbol of the other bringing them balance, just as the two teardrop halves of the Yin and Yang contain a spot of their opposite contained inside. Catherine and Vincent are both strong and vulnerable, courageous and frightened, hard and soft. The white rose and the quartz crystal are perfect symbols for the unique relationship Vincent and Catherine share.