‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a tale that is different from the popular fairy tales; it has a peculiar take on psychological, socio-historical, religious and feminist approaches. Unlike other well-known fairy tales that were written or told by an unknown storyteller, the tale of Beauty and the Beast is an original literary story written in a specific historical and political moment by a female writer, Madame Leprince De Beaumont who was also a governess.
The story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ has been interpreted in different ways. Some claim that it is a love story that teaches us modesty and introduces the healing power of love. Others claim that it is a tale about female empowerment growing – the awakening of a woman and her psychological and sexual maturation. Some see abuse in a romanticized hostage situation – the Beast is seen as an egocentric sociopath who keeps Beauty as his hostage while she loses touch with reality and falls in love with him; an example of Stockholm syndrome. Oftentimes, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is interpreted as a story about a conflict of genders and a fight for domination.
Like in all narratives involving love – any objectivity is lost; bad becomes good, ugly turns into beautiful, violence becomes tenderness and kindness, etc. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and its motives appeals to modern society; it narrates our hidden wild side to us. Societal norms have civilized our wildness, but this suppressed wildness constantly finds a way of coming out in our social and intimate relationships. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ also speaks about ‘otherness’. How hard is it be different?
What does it mean to be a beast – is it something that one becomes while living or is one born with it? What is beauty? What is pure and what is dirty? What is pleasure and does it have more value in the society or should it be punishable?
Can beauty and wildness co-exist?
You are right Madame Leprince De Beaumont was the first (or, at very least, earliest) author of the story of Beauty and the Beast and it has spawned so many iterations since then. Each version contemplates a different aspect of the story, but I was always most interested in Angela Carter's "The Tiger's Bride". I think the general plot of Beauty and the Beast explores areas beyond the social binaries we have become accustomed to: purity versus perversion, beauty versus ugliness, pleasure versus continence, femininity versus masculinity, etc. To answer your question, I believe beauty and wildness are not entirely opposites and can co-exist. We could make the argument wildness is beautiful or beauty is to be unrestrained, but we can explore a bit further. Beauty and the Beast is timeless because these issues pervade society since civilized society was established, or perhaps even before then. I suspect we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, but Beauty and the Beast allows us to explore these taboo experiences in such a way that we are safe to contemplate but left to continue participating in civilized society (hopefully with a new outlook). – iresendiz7 months ago
I really like this topic, but your thesis seems a little muddled. Bring it in--focus on one central theme. I think you're going for the juxtaposition of beauty vs. wildness, and/or the fact that the former can and does exist in the latter. Use that as a jump-off point when you (or whoever else writes this) explores the other interpretations of Beauty and the Beast--for example, whether it is in fact a romanticized hostage situation. – Stephanie M.6 months ago
This is a great topic as it has a rich history and has also gone on to inspire many reinventions and loose retellings of the same core story: to be loved in spite of perceived ugliness or flaws. In discussing the origins of this story, you'd possibly want to bring up the Greek Myth of Eros and Psyche (Cupid and Psyche in Roman mythology). Many early fairytales draw inspiration from the myth of Eros and Psyche, but especially BATB, with its beautiful heroine, a supposedly monstrous love interest, and several other key plot points that adhere to the myth. – Zoe L4 months ago
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