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Project: Fairy Tale has begun! As you’ve known, the fairy tale I’ve chosen is Beauty and the Beast (my sign up post can be found here). I believe there are a lot of Beauty and the Beast versions before, but I decided to choose the most well-known original version written by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont.
To give you a brief background, Beaumont’s version was derived from the work of Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Gallon de Villeneuve. Beaumont’s version is said to be the shortened version of Villeneuve’s. For those of you who are not familiar with the story, here’s my summary of the tale:
The story begins with the introduction of the characters. A rich merchant has six children: three sons and three daughters. All of his children are good-looking, but the youngest is the most beautiful of all; thus, calling her by the name of “Beauty”. They live a fortunate life, but later on lost everything. While Beauty accepts and embraces the life of poor, her siblings do otherwise. Moreover, her sisters keep insulting and mocking her (due to jealousy), but Beauty remains humble and patient.
When the merchant goes on a journey and fails to receive what he hopes for, he comes back empty-handed. On the way home, he gets lost in the forest and comes across the Beast’s palace. He is treated well, but when the merchant tries to pick roses for Beauty, the act angers the Beast and makes a condition that one of the merchant’s daughters will live with the Beast willingly. Upon returning home, the merchant relays the news to his children and it is Beauty who volunteers. As sad as it may seem, the father reluctantly agrees due to Beauty’s determination. That night, Beauty dreams of a woman telling her that her sacrifice for her father will not go unrewarded.
At the palace, Beauty is treated well by the Beast and later on, a friendship is formed between the two. She is given more than she hopes for, but when the Beast proposes to Beauty to become his wife, Beauty declines, but she still promises never to leave the Beast. She hopes to return home to see her father once again and the Beast agrees, giving her a week until she comes back again.
Upon returning home, Beauty’s wicked sisters becomes more jealous of her beauty and her present happy state that they plan to delay her stay a week longer than planned. It is only then that Beauty starts to reflect and realizes that she loves Beast, so she returns to the Beast, who is slowly dying, and after confessing her love to him, the Beast transforms into a charming prince. And they live happily ever after. Beauty’s two sisters, though, have been transformed into statues at the palace by the woman in Beauty’s dream.
Despite the shortness of the story, I immediately got hooked. The simplicity and purity of the tale makes it worth reading. Beauty and the Beast is surely the perfect example of the saying: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” There are also some magical elements contained in the story that makes it more interesting to read, such as the power the ring manifests which enables a person to transport from point A to point B, and a few more others. I’m quite curious, though, who does all the palace chores since servants are not mentioned in the story? Either way, the way the palace is described seems to project a positive feeling that one can wish to live there.
Moving on, to compare this to the Disney movie, I can actually see a lot of similarities and differences. To start off with the differences, firstly, Beauty’s father is a merchant while Belle’s father is an inventor. Secondly, Beauty has brothers and sisters whereas Belle has none and is just an only child. Thirdly, the servants in the movie have been transformed into furniture and utensils while in the original story, nothing is mentioned about servants. And lastly, the antagonists for the original tale are Beauty’s sisters, while their counterparts in the movie have been compiled into the characterization of Gaston.
As for the similarities, I just want to emphasize that both ladies like to read books and they get to have their own massive libraries! Aside from that, the concept of the story remains the same for the two.
Beauty and Belle are both portrayed as brave, independent, and humble, not the usual damsel-in-distress girls in some fairy tales who have to wait for their knights in shining armors for a happy ending. With this said, the relationship they have with the Beast is slowly developed as time passes from friendship and eventually turned into love. In a way, I’m quite amazed that the story explored the true meaning of love, not the love-at-first-sight scenes we often see and read in most fairy tales.
In both stories, beauty is symbolized in the form of roses and in the very person of Beauty and Belle. The essence of beauty is so important to the Beast, explicitly showing his hatred towards his appearance, that he tries to capture beauty by confining it and making it his own, never wanting to let go. This is evident when he becomes sensitive at the moment someone touches his rose/s as well as when he lets Beauty and Belle live in his palace.
And of course, like any other stories, there’s a moral lesson to it which can be applied in every day life. While physical appearance contributes to one’s first impressions on the person, it can still be deceiving. Both stories teach us that in order to fully know a person, what’s underneath their skins and whatever is within their hearts are far more important.
(You can check out my Disney Dream Portrait Series post for more.)