jesse's Reviews > Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast by Max Eilenberg
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Aug 19, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: picture-book, own, fairytale-folktale-myth-legend, illustrated, family, creatures-of-the-night, gothic, magical-realism, reviews
Read from August 14 to 15, 2012


fairy tales are short stories which are read to children with the mission of giving them an important message that they will use at some point in their lives. different values and beliefs are experienced through the stories [1]. such tales helped distinguish good from evil and in many cases, fortune would come knocking on one's door and reward the main lead for making all the right choices.

with the classic opener "once upon a time", readers are thrust into the world of the beauty and the beast infused with magical realism, where the main leads are named after their physical traits.

we all know how the story goes. a widowed merchant (in most versions) and his three daughters fall from grace without a penny to their name. then one day, the father stumbles upon an enchanted castle where he seeks shelter, but makes the mistake of plucking a rose from the beast's garden and thus strikes a bargain with the beast, to take one of his daughters in his stead. so .. beauty, the youngest and fairest of the daughters goes to the beast. long story short, in the end the beast transforms into a handsome young man, whose vicious curse is lifted soley through the power of true lurv.

now, this is where it gets interesting, as a lot of people see a many different aspects in the beauty and the beast folklore ...


the disneyfication of the beauty and the beast folklore objectifies beauty or belle, a prize to be won. disney has made many changes from that original. for example, there is a battle in the end of the disney movie instead of a journey, plus they made the final scenes, a fight between two guys over girl, diminishing her role. in the original version, she has returned to him after a visit to her family, deciding to return to him out of a sense of duty, and a love she does not realize until she fights through the forest and reaches him. again, the meaning is lost in the disney retelling. disney tries to return to the archetype and in the end, as the beast lay dying, she does declare her love for him and he transforms into a prince. belle seems like a good role model, she reads and sees through gaston’s handsome exterior, but she still is demeaned into a prize to be protected and won by the end of the movie [2].

according to maria tater, the beauty and the beast was meant to emphasize the importance of virtue rather than intelligence or looks when marrying. indeed, tater's interpretation of the story can be taken further, as she also argues that beauty and the beast was a tale meant to encourage young women who were forced to marry older men. in this interpretation, the fact that the beast transforms into a handsome, intelligent prince after beauty marries him may signify the fact that a happy marriage can be derived even from those marriages in which there is a great age difference or in which the man is ugly or unintelligent. it may even serve as a way to inform a wife that she can transform her husband [3]. it has even been argued that the beauty and the beast is the prime example of the stockholm syndrome told through the lense of a fairy tale, because how do you overcome fear when you are surrounded by vileness? answer: you embrace it by finding beauty in it as well, of course.

unlike many of the other fairy tales that [the brothers grimm] reproduced, beauty and the beast contains many subtle symbols in its purest form. it shows a girl and how she transfers to a woman; it also shows that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. the one major thing that separates this story from all the rest is that beauty gets to know the beast before marrying him [4]. it shows powerfully, that the deeper you go and the more you want to know, the more meaning and value you will find [5].

book quote:
"well, you are very handsome now," said beauty, with a smile, " but i loved you anyway, the way you were." she stroked his smooth cheeks and his strong hands, pleased to see that his nose was still a little bent and his eyes just as deep, for he looked so much more interesting than the picture-book prince she had always imagined.

bonus:
» modern interpretations of beauty and the beast in film
» a short history of ‘beauty and the beast’ in pop culture
» see the whole beauty and the beast spread with drew barrymore
» k.'s review on monstrous beauty, a twisted dark tale on mermaids

sources:
[1] oppapers, beauty and the beast anthropology
[2] oppapers, disneyfication of the beauty and the beast
[3] academon, persuasive essay - a feminist interpretation
[4] studymode, beauty and the beast interpretation
[5] lynetteabel, aesthetics essay

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Reading Progress

08/23/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by K. (new) - added it

K. Love this review, Joe. I was just having a discussion on fairy tales, actually.


message 2: by jesse (last edited Aug 18, 2012 10:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

jesse K. wrote: "Love this review, Joe. I was just having a discussion on fairy tales, actually."

thanks, k.! did the discussion take place via comments? if yes, could you put up a link? i'd love to read other people's thoughts on that topic!!


message 3: by K. (new) - added it

K. Oopsy daisy, I meant in real life :/ ... but I did (weirdly enough) also have a brief discussion about it with Sarah on here. Would love to know how you got started on fairy tales :)


message 4: by jesse (last edited Aug 18, 2012 01:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

jesse K. wrote: "Would love to know how you got started on fairy tales :)"

what exactly do you mean by that? how i came to read this fairy tale book in particular? easy enough: i love illustrated books and ...
(a) i've had it on my shelf for some time now
(b) like reading fairy tales
(c) saw angela barrett's illustrations and wanted to read it
*reads the comments on your monstrous beauty review*

edit:
overall? the first contact, i actually remember with fairy tales is the wolf and the seven little goats. i was grossly fascinated by how the mother goat would cut open the wolf's body to save her children. we would beg her to tell us the same story again and again and again. the good ol' times ..


message 5: by jesse (last edited Aug 18, 2012 12:46PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

jesse funny, actually that you mentioned your lovely review monstrous beauty, because i've been thinking about the things you mentioned a lot.

while we're on the subject of mermaids, i remember that h.c. andersen wrote this story about an angel who comes to earth, to collect this kid who died and together they visit all the favourite places of the kid in his lifetime and pick some flowers for the gardens of heaven (i think). so bleak and hopeful at the same time. ah, the sentimental values of things ..


message 6: by K. (last edited Aug 18, 2012 02:06PM) (new) - added it

K. Oh, I just meant you seem to have a particular interest in fairy tales, that's all.

And I've read that story! I know, its heartbreaking but sweet at the same time. I have several books on fairy tales...makes for good reading, I think :)

Aaand, I just now saw you've linked me. I'm blushing!


jesse blush away ;)


message 8: by Eleanor (new)

Eleanor Wonderful analysis Joe, I've always been rather obsessed with this fairytale in particular:)


message 9: by jesse (last edited Aug 19, 2012 07:07AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

jesse gotta warn you though, the juicy bits ==> quoted!


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