Into the Forest discussion

Original Fairy Tales > Beauty and the Beast

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message 1: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
How many like La Belle et Le Bete? What is your favorite version? Why do you think the beast is usually male? What about the differences between Beauty and the Beast and tales like Donkeyskin, which is more of Cinderella variant?

message 2: by Flora (new)

Flora Smith (bookwormflo) Beast this version of Beauty and the Beast is my favorite. I think the Beast is usually male because the aggressiveness of this character is generally a male/testosterone driven trait and the softness of Beauty counteracts this.

message 3: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
Flora wrote: "Beast this version of Beauty and the Beast is my favorite. I think the Beast is usually male because the aggressiveness of this character is generally a male/testosterone driven trait ..."

I know that there is a theory that the B&B tales were suppose to be stories that prepared women for marriage. Perhaps that too is a reason why.

message 4: by Shereen (new)

Shereen Vedam | 145 comments Hope you guys don't mind if I resurrect this discussion.

First of all, my take on the original question that started this thread is that, it would probably go against stereotype to switch the established character genders around.

Not that it can't be done, but although stereotype is "said" to be bad, it's a stereotype because it's a 'given' in people's mind. And changing people's minds can be an onerous effort.

Second, the reason I'm resurrecting this thread is that I'm looking for some research help on a project (with a short timeline, I have one week, sigh) and have some questions that I hope readers can give me input on.

I would like to ask people what you remember of this particular fairytale - Beauty and the Beast. I didn't want to start a new thread since the title of it was quite general to begin with and who knows, the answers I get might shine some light on the original question.

So, feel free to draw your answer from the book form of this tale, or from film, even something you just heard about this fairy tale.

I'm not looking for facts, just impressions, feelings, memorable moments and general knowledge about this story.

I'd also like to know about any symbols, motifs and themes you attach to this particular fairytale that resonate with you.

And one last thing - what fantasy elements of this story appeals to you most?

I actually belong to the Once Upon A Time Goodreads Group Discussion too, but while that TV series is breathtaking, and it is going through the various fairy tales, I don’t think they explored Beauty and the Beast yet, and I'm running out of time, so didn't want to ask there.

Anyway, any help would be greatly appreciated.



message 5: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
I never mind when a discussion starts over.

I never really thought about Beauty and the Beast until I was older. I know that it wasn't one of my favorite childhood tales growing up. I didn't really like it until I read Jack Zipes' collection of French fairy tales. I liked the Beauty and the Beast tales told there. They are longer.

I think what I like best about those is the stories make more sense. There is some more real about them, and it is no surprise that my favorite Beauty and the Beast variant is the Green Serpent.

Yet what I remember most about Beauty and the Beast, the picture that has always stuck with me, is Beauty returning to the Garden when she believes Beast has died. IN some ways, it is a reverse Garden of Eden.

message 6: by Katie (new)

Katie (rosepixie) | 30 comments I always found the sisters (and brothers in some versions) one of the most interesting elements of this story, despite their absence in many versions since Disney saw fit to make their Beauty an only child. The envious sisters who poison Beauty's mind to the love she had developed for the Beast or, at the very least, keep her away too long, always struck me as interesting characters. They're nearly always there - all the way back to the Psyche and Eros version of the story. They are basically cruel for the sake of being cruel, simply because they are envious. In so many ways they are like Cinderella's stepsisters, but they are full sisters (not step-) and unlike the stepsisters, they gain nothing for themselves by causing Beauty to loose.

Another motif that I always found intriguing was the empty castle. The Beast is nearly always alone (again, until Disney and a few scattered picture book versions with animal servants). There are no servants, or the story implies invisible hands doing the work, yet Beauty and Beast are tended to perfectly and almost lovingly. Unjust masters are not tended to perfectly - soup is served a little too cold, shelves are left a little too dusty - the more unhappy the servants are, the less perfect the service is likely to be. Yet the Beast has totally faithful and exacting servants who don't seem to exist. Somehow this seems to contradict the idea that he is cruel and monstrous. At first the solitude implies he was abandoned with the change, but it's nearly always made clear by the story that attendants are there, they are simply unable to interact in any really human way other than by attending to their master and his guests. If they are invisible, what is to stop them from leaving or neglecting him? They must love him, be loyal to him, to continue providing this level of service to him. It never feels like they are bound, simply like they are helpful.

There are other interesting images, but these two are the most common of the ones I find particularly intriguing. Others only appear in some versions (the ring to return home, the weather at the castle, etc.).

message 7: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) I'm struck by the (usual) absence of a motivation for the Prince's punishment - that is, in most versions I've read, the 'why' he was turned into a beast isn't explored.

I think some of the key elements, that if omitted would change the story too much, are:

1. the father's reluctance to let his daughter go live with the beast (yes, I recall a version in which he sent her, and that was appalling),

2. the inability of Beauty to know her love for the Beast until she sees from afar that he is dying for love of her,

3. the drama of the scene in the garden

Those also happen to be my favorite elements.
As a child I also liked the description of the wonders of the castle (gold plates, gowns, library, garden) and I liked the ring which enabled travel if twisted three times.

The single rose, "'My rose' roared the Beast," that's important of course, but somehow it doesn't resonant - it's just plain there, it feels to me.

message 8: by Shereen (new)

Shereen Vedam | 145 comments Thanks so much, Katie and Cheryl.

That really helps me.

From Katie, the part about the dramatic garden scene where she thinks the beast has died, also repeated by Cheryl.

And from Cheryl, the part about motivation for the beast being made into a beast and the three musts of the story. Very helpful!

Great insights and very timely. I'm going to be working on this project this weekend and I thank you both for your wonderful help!

I've always found this to be the most difficult of the fairy tales. For some reason, just when I feel I've got to the core of it, it vanishes. Your analyses are helping me pin it down better. Thanks.


message 9: by Phair (new)

Phair (sphair) What sealed my fascination with Beauty and the Beast was the TV series of the late 80s. I was so taken with Vincent and the longing for love that he projected that I began reading the fanfic to get more of the romance. That led me to reading and collecting other versions of the B&B story beginning with McKinley's Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast . I now have a collection of maybe 40+ picture books plus a large number of adult and YA fiction versions, non-fiction studies, novelty books and videos.

So, when I think of B&B I focus on that feeling of longing, the angst of the Beast in particular. I have always preferred the damaged /tortured type of hero who believes he will never find or is not worthy of love.

Another image that sticks with me is the castle as envisioned by Cocteau- especially the arm torch holders. Surreal.

Personally, I have never liked the part where the Beast transforms into a handsome, but only human, Prince. There is something more special about the Beast as a beast.

message 10: by Astarte (new)

Astarte I think one of the common threads between all of the retellings is Beauty always helps the beast. She softens, or heals him. This is very evident when The Beast turns into a human again. I don't like the thought of the Beast being a prince though. Although it may be more important that he is just and kind in the ruling of a kingdom, I think that Beauty gets too much out of it. She already gets someone who loves her completely, but she becomes a princess as well? It seems like overkill. The beast also doesn't venturre out of the castlemuch either. If he were truly monstrous, wouldn't he go rampaging through the nearby area, killing people?

message 11: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) Well, the whole theme of 'don't judge by appearances' is reinforced in so many ways. If we, or say, the father, knew better than to judge by appearances, then we/he would notice that Beast doesn't rampage, and that his servants are loyal. If we/he had learned the lesson of the theme better, we would know that Beauty is already a princess at heart, and saving Beast from death and the Prince from the enchantment only enabled her to get what was due her all along.

I suspect some of our enchantment with Beast as a beast is the gentler portrayals a la' Disney, and our exposure to lovable werewolves, vampires, etc. in popular fiction. I get the impression that originally Beast was truly monstrous, slavering. He does, after all, in some versions I've read, rampage the forest for prey, and Beauty sees blood on his muzzle if she spies him too early in the morning.

Oh, and about Beauty being having the soul of a princess, I think that's part of the wide appeal. I'm sure I wasn't the only little girl that thought I was really a princess, and that if my compassion were put to the test I would pass and get to marry a prince.

At least, that's how I see it. :)

message 12: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
Phair, the 80s series is getting remade for the CW.

message 13: by Shereen (new)

Shereen Vedam | 145 comments Thanks Phair, Astarte and Cheryl (again),

Reading some of your answers made me think of Chris' original question about why is Beauty often portrayed as female.

As Astarte said, "Beauty always helps the beast. She softens, or heals him."

Although there are lots of caring men around, this idea that a "woman can save a man from his darker/baser side," right or wrong, has been used in romance novels for decades, until the concept became ingrained into the psyche.

Kick butt heroines, like Buffy, are a more recent introduction into popular culture, but even she saves Angel's soul. :)

Makes me wonder if the recent rise in popularity of vampire and shapeshifter stories was an offshoot of B&B's appeal. Which suggests that B&B might have a more powerful "subconscious" appeal to the masses than the others do overtly.

Lots to consider. Thanks!


message 14: by Katharina (new)

Katharina Gerlach | 10 comments The thing I remembered best (from the version I read as a kid) was the ring that took Belle back to her family when she put it on her nightstand and thought about them. How I longed to have a travel ring like that -- and somehow I still do. Traveling is so tedious...

message 15: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) Shereen, thank you for resurrecting this thread!

message 16: by Phair (new)

Phair (sphair) Chris wrote: "Phair, the 80s series is getting remade for the CW."

I heard that- apparently there are TWO proposed B&B series- one on CW based on old series and another for ABC that would be more in the Disney mold. Plus, according to the previews, next week's Once Upon a Time visits the B&B theme with Rumpelstiltskin character as the Beast ?! [boy, can he look nasty]

CW will have to go some to top Ron Perlman as the Beast. That voice!

message 17: by Katie (last edited Feb 04, 2012 03:30PM) (new)

Katie (rosepixie) | 30 comments Shereen wrote: "From Katie, the part about the dramatic garden scene where she thinks the beast has died, also repeated by Cheryl."

I don't think that I said anything about the garden scene. I actually never found that scene that compelling (if anything, as a kid I thought it was the dumbest part of the story). I'm guessing you got that from my talking about the sisters, but my focus there was on the *sisters* and their affect on Beauty, not on the following dramatic garden scene. I actually think that's one of the weaker and least compelling parts of the story. I guess I kind of feel like that garden scene is the story getting bored and giving up - it's story shorthand when there could have been more interesting tale told yet. I tend to prefer versions that either don't have it (Psyche and Eros) or extend it in interesting ways (Disney, interestingly enough).

message 18: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) Good point, Katie. For those of us who avoid Disney, could you reveal what happens in the extension?

message 19: by Katie (new)

Katie (rosepixie) | 30 comments Cheryl in CC NV wrote: "Good point, Katie. For those of us who avoid Disney, could you reveal what happens in the extension?"

There are no sisters to keep her from the Beast in Disney's version (which actually is probably Disney's loveliest movie and I would highly recommend it), so the lure that pulls Belle away from the Beast's castle is her father being institutionalized by villagers who have their own agendas. She rushes home to help him and finds the bully in town (who has been wooing her unsuccessfully since the beginning of the story), promising to save her father from life in a mental institution if she promises to marry him.

Instead, she uses a magic mirror that the Beast gave her to prove that her father is not insane. This sends the villagers off on a monster hunt, complete with pitchforks and smoking torches. So the servants in the castle see the angry mob coming and mount a defense, but they're all forks and candelabras and such, so it's a curious and somewhat patchy defense at best. The Beast is moping because Belle left to care for her father instead of staying to save him, even though he never told her about the curse or it's time-sensitive nature.

A battle ensues and the town bully, always in search of the ultimate glory, goes searching through the castle for the Beast he saw in the mirror. Belle comes screaming after everyone trying to stop them and being universally ignored. The bully finds the Beast, of course, and a roof-top battle ensues. At first the Beast won't fight back and this really annoys the Bully, but then he sees Belle and hears her cries in his defense and he becomes enraged. He fights back and seems to prevail just as Belle comes bursting onto the nearby balcony. He comes to her, they embrace and all seems good, until the Bully, who the Beast (being a Good Disney Hero) did not kill, rears up and stabs the Beast in the back. The Beast rears up and the movement unbalances the Bully so that he falls off the rooftop, presumably to his doom.

The Beast falls into Belle's arms and as he dies she proclaims her love for him. As this is happening, the last petal from the rose (his timer) falls and the servants who have managed to rush to the scene look on in disappointment that they will have to remain household objects forevermore. Everyone is sad. Beast is dead. Then magic and sparkles and Beast rises into the air and transforms. When the sparkles clear, the Beast is a handsome prince and Belle is extremely confused (and a little suspicious). He reassures her that he's still the same person and that he loves her and they kiss. The servants come bouncing in and transform one by one back into humans (who look uncommonly like the objects they used to be...) and Beast rejoices, hugging them all. Everyone is happy and all is good. There is a big party with all the servants, Belle's father, random people we've never seen before and the happy couple and, presumably, a happily ever after.

message 20: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) Oh neat, lots more complexity. It seems that, ultimately, it's still Belle's affection that 'softens' and saves the Beast, though. I like how she's 'a little suspicious.' Thank you so much for typing that all out!

message 21: by Shereen (new)

Shereen Vedam | 145 comments Phair wrote: "Plus, according to the previews, next week's Once Upon a Time visits the B&B theme with Rumpelstiltskin character as the Beast ?! [boy, can he look nasty]..."

Thanks, Phair,

I planned to tape and watch this episode anyway, but now my ears will be so perked to catch all the B&B nuances, it'll look like there's an elf on my couch. :)

And thanks Katie for the Disney retelling. You did a great job. Sorry I misspoke your name with that quote, but not too sorry because it brought you out to correct me with a great post!

I especially liked the reminder about the fantasy elements of B&B.


message 22: by Katie (new)

Katie (rosepixie) | 30 comments Cheryl in CC NV wrote: "Oh neat, lots more complexity. It seems that, ultimately, it's still Belle's affection that 'softens' and saves the Beast, though. I like how she's 'a little suspicious.' Thank you so much for t..."

No problem. It was kind of fun to write it out and think about how interesting and complex it is again. It made me want to dig out the movie and watch it. I always forget how dark it actually gets (you don't expect people to be sent to insane asylums in Disney movies).

message 23: by Diane (new)

Diane Reed Yes, thanks for typing all that out : ) I'm amazed at the renaissance of interest in Beauty and the Beast lately on TV. It's a bit odd to imagine Once Upon A Time's Rumplestilskin character as suddenly morphing into the Beast for an upcoming episode, but Robert Carlyle is such a good actor that he can pull off anything. Wonder what the new B&B TV series will be like, and who the'll choose for actors?

message 24: by Phair (new)

Phair (sphair) Have not heard who is cast in CWs B&B remake but the same Exec Producers from the 80s show [Ron Koslow, Paul Junger Witt & Tony Thomas] are involved, at least in the pilot, so there is hope for a good product.

Did you know that George R. R. Martin, he of Game of Thrones fame was story consultant/producer for and writer of some of the best episodes of the 80s series. I suppose he's too busy/famous to do much scriptwriting outside of his own franchise nowadays.

message 25: by Diane (new)

Diane Reed Katharina wrote: "The thing I remembered best (from the version I read as a kid) was the ring that took Belle back to her family when she put it on her nightstand and thought about them. How I longed to have a trave..."

I love the ring detail! I never truly noticed it that much before Khatarina pointed it out--so evocative and beautiful (I think we all understand the longing to be instantly transported back to the ones we love : ). I recently read Jeann-Marie LePrince de Beaumont's version (1756), and it was heart-stoppingly poignant and complex. One thing that struck me is the fact that Beauty's merchant father had lost his fortune at the beginning of the tale. The desperation that ensues for the family is something I think people in a recession can really relate to now. And the fact that Beauty chooses character over other qualities is also refreshing during times like these. For me, this story never comes across as overly moralistic because Beauty really demonstrates what a trooper she is--so readers are pulling for a good ending for her. But I really like Chris's comment: why isn't the Beast ever a woman? That would be such a fascinating twist! If you could pick an actress to play the Beast as a woman in a film or tv show, who would you pick? I think Elizabeth Taylor could have done it in years past. I think Charlize Theron might work, too--you know, that combination of ferocious that could become beautiful.

message 26: by Shereen (new)

Shereen Vedam | 145 comments I watched the Once Upon A Time episode of B&B on Sunday.

It made me think that the show breaks apart the fairytale couples (probably with a happy ending in view for the future) but the constant breakups and keep aparts are really hard to take in the present, lol.

The most poignant moment for me was the hint that the "prince" inside the beast was just waiting to find a way out. I did think they did a good job of that.

And I loved "Rumple" as a short form of his name. That helped me warm up to him a lot, lol.

Also, speaking of rings, though there wasn't that particular magical touch about this episode, they had the element of him letting her go.

I think that's my favorite part of fairytales. The highlights of the "best" elements of human interaction. Things we crave as children but sometimes forget the importance of as we grow into adults.

P.S. I've been thinking of Diane's question about who would I like for the role of "beast" as a woman.

You'd need someone strong to pull it off, maybe someone like Glenn Close? Actually, I even think Reese Witherspoon could pull it off, both have range.


message 27: by Jalilah (last edited Feb 14, 2012 06:06PM) (new)

Jalilah | 4530 comments Mod
Can you believe this? I just read Beauty and the Beast for the first time in my life a few days ago!
I loved it but I always thought I wouldn't! This goes way back, as a child the picture of the Beast frightened me and I would not even allow my mother to read it to me. Even as I got older I guess I just never gave the story a chance. The version I read was in the Blue Fairy book. I only other version I know is the Walt Disney Movie but I liked the story in this book a lot more.

As for the reason why the Beast is a male, I think that it is true about what Chris said about it originally being a tale to prepare woman for marriage. At the time the Tale originated most marriages were arranged and women were expected to accept who ever had been chosen for them. It was not socially acceptable just to walk out of a bad marriage. So the story reinforces the idea than inside every man, even one that seems like an ugly beast, is a handsome kind prince. On a deeper level, the message is to not be deceived by appearances.

message 28: by Shereen (new)

Shereen Vedam | 145 comments Thanks for that insight into marriages and how B&B relates, Jalilah and Chris (I missed that bit earlier). Very interesting.

Also plan to check out the Blue Fairy Book in the library.


message 29: by Shereen (new)

Shereen Vedam | 145 comments Fairy Tale News: Beauty and the Beast remake coming in October to TV.

message 30: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) Shereen wrote: "Fairy Tale News: Beauty and the Beast remake coming in October to TV."

It sounds incredibly awful, both in and of itself and from the review I saw of the presentation at (I believe) ComicCon. As a fan of the original series this is supposedly based on, I'm actually pretty offended by this thing.

There was actually going to be another BatB series as well, commissioned by ABC, but last I read ABC decided not to proceed with it.

message 31: by Caitriona (new)

Caitriona Anyone who knows me will know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Disney version of BatB. It's been my absolute favourite film since I was about four years old, and the main reason I was drawn to it was because Belle was a bookish brunette, who lived in a community where reading books was something highly unusal and odd. Swap 'community' for 'primary school', and she's me. For a long time, all that mattered to me was Belle - I was very much a feminist child. It wasn't until I got older that I really began to appreciate the story's romance element, and its moral message. It gave me a deeper love for the story as a whole.
As a result, I get very possessive over the story. I tend to treat any reworkings of it with contempt - it's almost as if it's MY story, and people should really ask my permission before they use it. Having said that, I did like Robin McKinley's version. Having said THAT, I don't think any other version will really do the story any justice. Just saying.

message 32: by Shereen (new)

Shereen Vedam | 145 comments I loved this from Caitriona: "'s almost as if it's MY story, and people should really ask my permission before they use it.

That's the best compliment you could ever give a creative artist. Disney should thank you. :)

I loved the Disney version of BatB, too, and I actually wasn't that crazy about the original TV series of this remake and was hoping the remake would be better.

After reading Tracey's comment, now I hope the producers listened to any feedback they got from ComicCon to improve the show before they release it in October.

I dread, however, that they might just be trying to capitalize on the resurgence of Fairy Tales in pop culture.


message 33: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) Heh – if you didn't like the 1987 series, you might like what's to come; from the sound of it all they've retained is the names. Vincent, the Beast, is actually attractive; the "beast" aspect is that he turns into the Incredible Hulk when he gets angry. They're absolutely jumping on the Grimm/OUaT bandwagon; I only wish they'd come up with original material to do it with.

I'm not sure if a reaction of contempt is ever really a compliment to any art; my view of art is more that it opens minds rather than closes them, but YMMV. I would love to see another version of the tale of Beauty and the Beast brought to series tv, if it could only be done imaginatively and with some level of respect for both the audience and the source material.

message 34: by Caitriona (new)

Caitriona Shereen wrote: "I loved this from Caitriona: "'s almost as if it's MY story, and people should really ask my permission before they use it.

That's the best compliment you could ever give a creative artist. ..."

Thank you Shereen, I feel all loved now. :)

message 35: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
I won't use the term nerd, perhaps dedicated fan?

I like East of the Sun; in fact, it's my favorite version of the tale. It's the polar bear.

message 36: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
I just finished Zipes' translation of the de Villenueve novella, and I'm struck by the fact that the original story is more about females doing their duty and marrying who they're told (instead of who they love!) than it is about seeing what's on the inside. In fact, in this version, Beauty is trying to look past appearances, but the wicked fairy has also cursed the beast so that he appears to be stupid as well as ugly -- and she finds the stupidity more repellent than his beastly appearance.

And then, after the garden scene that's now the normal ending, the Queen shows up and forbids Beauty and Beast from marrying, because she's too far down the social scale, and anyone who marries out of their class ends up dreadfully unhappy. Of course, Beauty is the long lost daughter of the King, (and the cousin of the Beast) so a happily ever after is possible...

It's a dramatic contrast to the later and more well-known Leprince de Beaumont abridgment, which has the "traditional" moral of overlooking the outer person and seeing the good within.

message 37: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
The French ones are really the best, I think. I will always love Zipes simply because I picked up his translations of them.

message 38: by Jeanna (new)

Jeanna | 18 comments So, Melanti, I'm curious to know which of the versions you liked better? Was the Villeneuve version interesting enough? Is the Beaumont too simplistic? (Okay, I admit that's a little bit of me inserting my personal viewpoint. B&B is my favorite fairy tale, but I like retellings best.) Anything else of interest about it?

message 39: by Melanti (new)

Melanti | 2125 comments Mod
I haven't worked my way through the whole anthology yet -- just cherry-picked the two most famous versions. I liked the Villenueve version a lot - though it was long and pretty detailed.

There was all sorts of charming details -- Beauty's dreams of the Beast's handsome form, the mirror that lets her watch operas and theaters, lots of animal attendants - monkeys, apes, parrots, etc, invisible servants.

I will admit the ending got a bit tedious... After the beast has turned back to his handsome self, I was all set for the wedding and the happily ever after, but that's just 2/3 of the way through! You still have to get through 30 pages of why the Beast was cursed, how and why Beauty was separated from her royal family, the class system of the fairies versus the class system of the royalty, the return of both of Beauty's families, etc.

The Villenueve version is more like reading a novel/novella based on a fairy tale, whereas the Beaumont version is a more like a universal, archetypal tale.

I really liked the Villenueve version, but with all of the details, and culture specific pedantry (not marrying outside of your class, marrying for duty not love, etc) I'm not in the least surprised that the Villenueve version is nearly forgotten in comparison to Beaumont's version.

In general, I really enjoy novel length retellings too, so I do have some biases as well.

Anything else of interest... Um. There is a library and Beauty is a bookworm. (In theory. She's in awe of the library, but you never see her reading any of the books)
I had to chuckle at Beauty's merchant father filling his pockets with trinkets for his daughters from the treasures lying around - and that was okay. But the rose was going too far. In fact, up until the Beast showed up, he was planning on going home and packing up his 12! children and moving them into the place! (He thought some fairy was giving the palace to him since it appeared to be unoccupied.)

message 40: by Jeanna (new)

Jeanna | 18 comments Interesting. Thanks for telling a bit more about it. I'd run across it when I did my thesis on B&B in college (yes, I was that kind of geek), but since I was focusing on other things I never ended up reading it, just a summary (for shame!). And that was forever ago. So it's good to hear from someone who actually read the thing!

message 41: by Julia (last edited Jul 06, 2016 06:48AM) (new)

Julia | 214 comments Resurrecting a four month since there's been a contribution discussion...
"Beauty and the Beast" is my favorite fairy tale since I saw Cocteau's "La Belle et Le Bete," -- I corrected this-- which I am pretty sure I misspelled. French is only 'my' language for very old movies... When I was a teenager I loved old movies (now too) and that was one of my favorites. Some aspects of the Disney version are taken from Cocteau. It must be on You Tube! There's a lovely picture book version by Marianna Mayerand Mercer Meyer, Beauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer .
I've since read Beauty and Rose Daughter and Beast, for starters. And of course, the bookish girl and the boy with an amazing library trope from the Disney version is a favorite.

message 42: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
Only thing wrong with the spelling is it shoud be La Belle. La is female; le is male.

I know that Cinderella is the most common tale, but I wonder if B&B is the most used motfif, like when you think about all those romance novels that are basically the fairy tale.

message 43: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 4530 comments Mod
Chris wrote: "Only thing wrong with the spelling is it shoud be La Belle. La is female; le is male.

I know that Cinderella is the most common tale, but I wonder if B&B is the most used motfif, like when you th..."

I think both are equally used.
My favourite re-telling without doubt is Beauty by Robin McKinley, but for classic novels I love Jane Eyre

message 44: by Julia (new)

Julia | 214 comments Thank you, Chris.

message 45: by Katie (new)

Katie I love Beauty and the Beast. I knew the story (beautiful girl turns beast into prince through her love and compassion) when I was little, and then I saw the Disney movie, which I still love because it makes Belle a bookworm and able to stand up for herself. It's only recently that I've read some of the original stories.

For me, I prefer de Beaumont's version to de Villeneuve's, mainly because de Villeneuve is a bit too pushy on the marriage question - the seduction-by-dreams night after night I find kind of creepy. I do like the inclusion of Beauty's mother, but the entire thing is kind of long winded. I think de Beaumont does a wonderful job in her truncation. With de Beaumont as well, I love how in control she allows Beauty to be - I love her rhyme about Beauty being queen and mistress - quite an empowering, feminist message. I love the servants in both versions, and the fantastical nature of the castle.

I recently read McKinley's Beauty. It's a pretty straight retelling, but I do love it.

I remember the 80s series as well. I've not watched the remake and I never will. I loved the 80s series, mainly because it wasn't about changing the 'beast' - Catherine loved Vincent no matter what he looked like.

I love what Once Upon a Time is doing with Beauty and the Beast. Five seasons in, Belle and Rumple have been through a lot together. This is an interesting exploration of the whole 'beast' idea, because Rumple is a beast because of his curse, a curse that he's willingly taken on, and how he and Belle deal with that and the ways it comes between them is sort of the crux of their story. Rumple doesn't want to be without the power the curse gives him, and that causes real problems between him and Belle, and has brought them to breaking point several times. We don't know how it will all end, but hopefully happily!

One of the things I like about Beauty and the Beast in general is, as someone else said, that Beauty saves the Beast. She softens him, helps him remember his humanity, and that's true for Rumple and Belle too, though it's not easy. They love each other, but the question now is can they be together when they want different things and he doesn't seem willing to compromise? I'm eagerly awaiting what season six will bring!

One of the things I like about modern retellings of BatB is that Beauty isn't afraid to stand up for herself. That's very evident in Disney's version, and Once Upon a Time's version especially - Belle isn't afraid to walk away when the beast is being beastly. I love a fairy tale heroine who can assert herself and live without a man, as Once's Belle has had to do.

I would love to see a female beast. John Connolly did it in The Book of Lost Things, but it was only a small part of the story. I think having a gender reversed Beauty and the Beast could say a lot about ideals of beauty for women in the world we live in.

message 46: by Lacey (new)

Lacey Louwagie | 236 comments Katie wrote: "I would love to see a female beast. John Connolly did it in The Book of Lost Things, but it was only a small part of the story. I think having a gender reversed Beauty and the Beast could say a lot about ideals of beauty for women in the world we live in. "

There are a couple of them. Mette Ivie Harrison's The Princess and the Hound has a female beast (although I didn't think that book was particularly well executed.) I've also read a couple lesbian retellings that have females beasts (obs) -- one is in Once upon a Dyke and Roses and Thorns: Beauty and the Beast Retold by Chris Anne Wolfe, but the latter reads like fan-fiction. The retelling in "Once Upon a Dyke" is better, with the beast portrayed as a "bearded lady" in a circus. I'll bet there are others out there, too, but I agree that this could be well utilized for commentary on beauty expectations for women in our culture. I've always resented a bit that a "beastly" man can still expect to win a beautiful woman, but we don't see much of the reverse (a woman who is not beautiful snagging a handsome man.) The only one that comes to mind is The Rough-Face Girl, which is a Native American "Cinderella" story.

message 47: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
There is a Russian version of the Frog Prince which is basically The Frog Princess. There is a French tale, The White Cat, which has a woman cursed into a cat who has to find a spouse - though I always wonder how beast like that one is. There is the French "Green Serpent" by D'Aulony (I believe) where the princess is so ugly she has to wear a veil. Her suitor is a prince cursed to be a snake.

There is also a French tale Ricky of the Tuft- its in Jack Zipes' French collection. The ugly hero makes a deal with a stupid but beautiful princess. He gives her intelligence if she marries him. The interesting thing is that her sister is ugly but very smart. Once the beautiful sister gets brains, the smart sister is totally ignored and Perrault never says what happens to her. That story pissed me off.

The most famous one is the Loathly lady story - a version of which appears in Canterbury Tales (The Wife of Bath). That is a true female beast tale.

message 48: by Margaret (new)

Margaret | 3758 comments Mod
I finished most of Beauty and the Beast Tales from Around the World a couple of weeks ago, and "The Green Serpent" was one of my favorite of the French tales. I also quite like "The White Cat."

I prefer the Beaumont version over the Villeneuve, but I'm not a huge fan of either. I much prefer the "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" story types.

My favorite from Heiner's anthology was "The Monkey Prince," an Indian animal bridegroom tale. Here it is, free to read:

However, even though I'm not a huge fan of the Beaumont and Villeneuve versions, I still plan to go see the new Beauty and the Beast movie, with Ian McKellen and Emma Watson.

message 49: by Katie (new)

Katie Lacey - thanks, I must check out some of those. I'd imagine lesbian retellings would be pretty interesting, but I think more interesting for me would be seeing a retelling with a male Beauty and a female Beast, a retelling that did, as we've both said, comment on beauty expectations for women in our culture.

Chris and Margaret - thanks, I've heard of The White Cat and the Green Serpent. I think one or both of them is in the Spells of Enchantment collection by Zipes, which I just bought recently.

Chris, I, too, wondered what happened to the 'ugly' sister in Ricky as well. Seems like Perrault missed a trick by not telling us about her. Why put her in?

Margaret, I'm really looking forward to the film next year. It's a live action remake of Disney's animated version. I'm particularly interested to see it to see how much they keep and how much they change from Disney's version, but also because I want to see how it compares to Once Upon a Time's version - their Belle is pretty closely aligned with Disney's Belle and they use a lot of the Disney BatB motifs, like the cup and the rose, and the costumes, and I love Once's version, so I'm looking forward to see how the film compares.

message 50: by Christine (new)

Christine (chrisarrow) | 1390 comments Mod
Katie - I think one or both of them is also in Zipes' French collection.

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