Beauty and the Beast

Latest Articles

Latest Topics

4

'Beauty and the Beast' - A Tale That Foretold The Life Of Today

‘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). – iresendiz 1 week ago
    3
9

Feminism in Beauty and the Beast

A feminist analysis of any material can always go two way: 1) criticize absolutely everything about the material 2) defend the female characters as victims of circumstance. In the case of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, it’s very easy to bring up Stockholm Syndrome amongst other anti-feminist issues in the plot. But one can also defend Belle’s strong will and generosity, despite her situation. Disney made a very strategic decision by casting Emma Watson in the live-action remake because in film she is known as the strong-willed bookworm Hermione Granger and in the real world she is known a huge feminist activist. It’s clear with this decision and their recent films like Maleficent and Cinderella that Disney is attempting to put a feminist spin on the stories we all know, to various degrees of success. What can Disney do to revise Beauty and the Beast? Is the story inherently anti-feminist?

  • This is a very interesting topic. I do not think this story is inherently anti-feminist just looking at Belle as a character. She is opposed to and openly fights against marriage, she is an avid reader and characterized by her intelligence, and is portrayed as smarter than most males in the film. I agree that it was smart casting Emma Watson due to her role in popular media, as you say, of course her presence in the film won't automatically offer a more feminist reading. It'd be interesting to compare the original cartoon film to the new one and see what changes they make as well as what more they could do to add an even further feminist spin on it. – Kathryn 7 years ago
    4
  • I enjoy thinking of the possibilities of the topic, but I do think the story can be both anti and pro-feminist. I think, if anything, in the society we are in today, Disney has seen value in re-imagining some of thier most famous stories with a stronger female base. I think there are two great possibilites in how Disney can revise: a) not painting Belle as smarter than the men in the film, but make her a strong intellectual companion to her male counterparts; however, this does not mean she should be above the few women in the film either. B) I would love to see more exploration into the relationships between Belle and The Dresser/Mrs. Potts. Those are the only true female interactions seen with Belle, and I think emphasis on women helping women in the story would also help to create a stronger feminist undertone in the upcoming film. These elements are already in the originial animation (as well as Belle being treated as a prize by Gaston and other less-than-feminist elements), so therefore, I cannot say B&B is entirely anti-feminist; the animation just comes from a different era. Disney has a platform to show specific sides of feminism not always shown. The ability of a woman to be on the same level as the men in a patriarcal society, not so much being above them, and being able to relate and co-exist with other women on every level of her life in a way which is beneficial. – C N Williamson 7 years ago
    4
  • I enjoy thinking of the possibilities of the topic, but I do think the story can be both anti and pro-feminist. I think, if anything, in the society we are in today, Disney has seen value in re-imagining some of thier most famous stories with a stronger female base. I think there are two great possibilites in how Disney can revise: a) not painting Belle as smarter than the men in the film, but make her a strong intellectual companion to her male counterparts; however, this does not mean she should be above the few women in the film either. B) I would love to see more exploration into the relationships between Belle and The Dresser/Mrs. Potts. Those are the only true female interactions seen with Belle, and I think emphasis on women helping women in the story would also help to create a stronger feminist undertone in the upcoming film. These elements are already in the originial animation (as well as Belle being treated as a prize by Gaston and other less-than-feminist elements), so therefore, I cannot say B&B is entirely anti-feminist; the animation just comes from a different era. Disney has a platform to show specific sides of feminism not always shown. The ability of a woman to be on the same level as the men in a patriarcal society, not so much being above them, and being able to relate and co-exist with other women on every level of her life in a way which is beneficial. - C N Williamson – C N Williamson 7 years ago
    3
  • I may write this one, partially because I am so sick of people saying Belle has Stockholm Syndrome. Yes, I understand where that argument comes from, but even as an adult I never thought that was what B&B is about. Does Belle have her flaws? Sure. But as a feminist character, IMHO she's leagues ahead of her peers. – Stephanie M. 5 years ago
    2