When asking Belle to marry him, Gaston says that she will end up as a beggar on the street if she doesn’t marry him before her father dies, pointing at Agathe as an example of this.

However, at the end, Clothilde reunites with her husband (Cogsworth) who she had forgotten due to the Enchantress’s curse.

Since Clothilde had forgotten her husband for so long, how was she able to get by in the village without becoming a beggar? Heck, how was she even able to afford the “6 eggs” she mentioned without a husband’s job?

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    Note that the beggar (Agathe) is actually the Enchantress in disguise. – Valorum Apr 19 at 7:33

Clothilde is described in the script as a fishmonger. She has a profession separate from her husband and presumably her own income, sufficient to afford eggs aplenty.

PRETTY FISHMONGER'S WIFE: (pointed) Bonjour, good day, how is your wife?

THE FISHMONGER pops up next to his wife, sending the would-be-Lothario into retreat. Another fishmonger, the shrewish CLOTHILDE, accosts him:

CLOTHILDE: I need six eggs

As to why she wasn't shunned (as an unmarried spinster), it's important to note that the villagers are under a spell that's not 100% successful. They still have vague memories of having lost their relatives. This presumably extends to being deferent to Clothilde (as someone who's married to a man of some importance at the castle) even if they can't quite remember why.

  • Hmm. Well, I got her occupation wrong, but the basic premise of my answer still holds. I guess she weaves the nets too, thus her name. – Adamant Apr 19 at 7:46
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    I can't read that script snippet and not hear the song. – Seth R Apr 19 at 16:43

Gaston is trying to pressure Belle into marrying him, so naturally he will exaggerate in order to try to make her believe that she will be lost without a husband. Of course, he is not telling the whole truth. While a single woman in France during that period would have been at a disadvantage and excluded from most occupations, it was by no means impossible for them to make a living, or even, in some cases, attain some measure of success. That is not to say that it would have been easy. In addition, Belle grew up pampered by her father and reading books about abstract topics, which would hardly have been conducive to the sorts of trades that a woman could plausibly pursue in a rural town in 1700s France.

Assuming that Clothilde's name, like that of her husband Cogsworth, is meaningful, she may be a washerwoman or seamstress, in the terminology of the period. The former trade was well-recognized, and by the 19th century, there was even a small festival in Paris dedicated to the women who did laundry work.

In addition, Cogsworth had been the majordomo of the castle, a position of some importance. We can presume that he had a decent income and some savings, which may have cushioned any financial difficulties that Clothilde may or may not have had.

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    This would also explain why she was so keen to destroy Belle's washing machine. – Valorum Apr 19 at 7:39
  • @Valorum - Indeed. – Adamant Apr 19 at 7:40

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