An enchantress disguised as a beggar woman arrives at a French castle and offers a cruel and selfish prince a rose in return for shelter. When he refuses, she reveals her true identity. To punish the prince for his lack of compassion, the enchantress metamorphoses him into a beast and his servants into household objects. She casts a spell on the rose and warns the prince that the spell will only be broken if he learns to love another and earn her love in return before the last petal falls in his 21st year, or else he will remain a beast forever.
Years later, in a nearby village, a beautiful, book-loving and an independent-minded girl named Belle dreams of adventure and wants more than the little village can offer. She is seen as an outsider by the villagers. Despite her oddness, her beauty attracts the attentions of Gaston, a handsome but ill-mannered and narcissistic hunter whose advances she has to brush off, as well as his bumbling sidekick Lefou. On his way to a fair to showcase his latest invention (an automatic wood-chopper), Belle’s father and eccentric inventor Maurice gets lost in the forest and seeks refuge in the Beast’s castle, but the Beast imprisons him for trespassing. When Maurice’s horse returns without him, Belle ventures out in search of him, and finds him locked in the castle dungeon. The Beast agrees to let her take Maurice’s place.
Belle befriends the castle’s royal servants: Lumière the candelabra, Cogsworth the clock, Mrs. Potts the teapot, and her son Chip, the teacup; they invite her to a spectacular dinner. When she wanders into the forbidden west wing and finds the rose, the enraged Beast scares her into fleeing the castle. In the woods, she is ambushed by a pack of wolves, but the Beast rescues her and is injured in the process. As Belle nurses his wounds, a friendship develops between them, they become close and even get close to falling in love. Meanwhile, Maurice returns to the village and fails to convince the townsfolk of Belle’s predicament. Hearing Maurice’s claims about the Beast, Gaston hatches a plan: He bribes Monsieur D’Arque, the warden of the town’s insane asylum to have Maurice locked up as a lunatic. Belle, with none to support her, would then have no choice but to marry Gaston. Before they can act, however, Maurice leaves for the castle to attempt a rescue alone.
After sharing a romantic dance with the Beast, Belle discovers her father collapsing in the woods using a magic mirror. The Beast releases her to save Maurice, giving her the mirror as a remembrance. After Belle takes her father to the village, an angry mob led by Gaston, Lefou and Monsieur D’Arque arrive to arrest Maurice. Trying to prove Maurice’s sanity, Belle uses the mirror to reveal the Beast to the townsfolk. Realizing that Belle loves the Beast, Gaston has her thrown into the basement with her father. He rallies the villagers to follow him to the castle to slay the Beast. With the help of Chip (who had arrived at their house as a stowaway) and Maurice’s wood-chopping machine, Maurice and Belle escape, and then rush back to the castle.
During the battle, the Beast’s servants fend off the villagers and LeFou. Gaston attacks the Beast in his tower, who is too heartbroken from Belle’s departure to fight back, but regains his spirit upon seeing Belle return. He defeats Gaston but spares his life before reuniting with Belle. However, Gaston stabs the Beast with a knife and falls to his death after losing his footing.[a] The Beast dies in Belle’s arms before the last petal falls. Belle tearfully professes her love to the Beast and the spell is undone, reviving the Beast and restoring his human form along with all his servants and his castle. The Prince and Belle host a ball for the kingdom, where they dance happily.