(5/26/04 11:51 pm)
About "Beauty and the Beast" and maturity|
How does the Beast mature?
Well, I think the Beauty was a matured woman at start but as the story progressed she learned to be more matured.
Doesn't the Beauty go through spiritual maturity?
But I wonder...what kind of other maturity do the beast and beauty go through?
(5/31/04 1:19 am)
Beauty and the Beast|
My take on this is that the reason Beast is "Beast" in the first place is because he has in some way degraded the feminine spirit. Thus, in his humble and giving attitude towards Beauty, he offers penance for his previous transgressions, and he is rewarded by the Goddess by a reunification with his inner feminine spirit (the kiss from Beauty), and comes to completion and wholeness in his masculine self.
Edited by: Podnah at: 5/31/04 1:22 am
(6/2/04 9:46 pm)
beasts and beauties mature at different rates|
I respectfully disagree with the idea that Beauty started off as
a mature woman. She certainly was closer to maturity than her rather
short-sighted sisters, but her more whimsical desire for a flower
is hardly a big improvement over jewels and dresses. Her willingness
to submit to her foolish father's terrible bargain is, I think,
the first step on her path to maturity. As for the Beast...well,
I've always viewed him as representative of the beastliness in all
people. Similar to, but less lethal than, a werewolf. His transformation
is not a maturation process- it is a civilizing one. His change
begins when he realizes intimidation is a poor tactic to woo a lady.
I guess you could argue that there isn't a difference between maturity
and civilization, but I've always seen Beast as significantly older
than Beauty. I've met lots of uncivilized people of various ages,
but maturity seems to be a product of age and experience in a way
that civilization doesn't seem to touch. I feel compelled to say
that I know exactly what the difference is to me, but am doing a
terrible job of articulating it.
(6/3/04 3:35 pm)
I've always been most interested in Madame le Prince de Beaumont's version of "Beauty and the Beast," where the Beast is always sweet and polite, just ugly and not very smart.
In this version, Beauty is surprised when she goes home and sees how disagreeable the husbands of her two sisters are (one is handsome, one is witty, both make bad husbands). In contrast, her Beast is generally considerate of her needs. Thus, I always believed the conflict in this earlier version of the story isn't really about the Beast's need to change/grow ... rather about women learning to be thankful for nice, rich husbands, even if they are ugly.
It's always been fascinating to me ... Disney's choice to make the Beast so angry and violent. I suppose the story seems more "romantic" to twentieth-century Americans when the couple screams at each other and then makes up.
(6/7/04 4:48 am)
Re: Maturity? Compromise?|
I never really saw Beauty as either mature or immature at the start of the story, but definitely as a sweet and giving sort - which is probably why she's in the tale and not her sisters. I suppose maturity comes when she meets someone who is not as easy to be sweet and giving to - in the beginning. Thought it was interesting that the moment when she realized that she loved Beast was the moment when he was at his neediest (aka, dying).
*Angela Carter mentioned this scene as being one of emotional manipulation.
Perhaps I viewed this differently as a child, but these days I see the tale being about compromise, manipulation and who holds the cards at the end of the day. Not Beauty.
Does she grow from this? As much as anyone would, I suppose. Did the Beast? What did he learn, really? This is the question I asked myself. She had to learn to see beyond the Beast. But she was always Beauty to him. He had to make her love him, but this does not always result out of inner growth. Perhaps she loved him quite simply because he needed her to. Anyway. These are just my stray thoughts and I'm probably overanalyzing as usual.
I love Robin Mckinley's "Rose Daughter" - where the Beast remains the Beast but he is such a sweetie you can see why Beauty would want to stay with him. There's none of the compromise I feel in some of the older tales.
And...on a slight tangent: I *really* love the poem "Beauty and the Beast" by Ms. Yolen which has the narration of a much older Beauty in it. Heard it via June Tabor's spoken-word version of it - I think it's in her "Against the Streams" album. Gorgeous stuff.
(6/14/04 8:06 pm)
Beauty & the Beast: maturity|
I'm so fascinated by everyone's comments on Beauty & Beast. From the Jean Cocteau film version To Disney , I've always found it a great disappointiment when the soulful, brooding Beast turns back into the bland handsome prince in the end—how, I wondered, could Beauty bear it?
In my novel, "Beast: A Love Story," Beast is turned into Beast for a very good reason—because in his human form he was handsome arrogant, and abusive; his beauty made him cruel & careless. As Beast, he evolves through anger, and self-pity to genuine remorse for the life he has wasted, and on to self-awareness: ie: maturity. He still woos his Beauty with presents and jewels, but in my version it's not the pretty girl beguiled by his riches who redeems him, but a former servant— betrayed by her master and trapped with him in enchantment—who learns to love and respect him in all his terrible nobility.
It always seemed to me that Beauty—in traditional versions of the tale—has sort of a vested interest in declaring her love for Beast, because of all the finery he can bestow on her. Women have made far worse bargains for husbands, especially in fairy tales. It seems to me that Beast should wear his Beastliness with pride—as the badge of honor of his newfound wisdom—and that any sensible (read:mature) woman would despair at losing Beast for a more handsome but perhaps not so wise and giving imposter.
(6/15/04 9:48 am)
more questions about the Beast|
Thanks to Lisa's post, I now know of at least two modern versions of Beauty and the Beast (her novel and the Disney movie) in which the Beast has become a Beast as punishment for his arrogance/ selfishness/ etc. as a human. What I'm wondering now is, does anyone know of a traditional version of B and B (or of a similar animal bridegroom tale) in which the Beast has a similar history? Or in which he truly acts "beastly" before he learns to love Beauty? Thanks so much!
(6/16/04 8:15 pm)
Beauty and the Beast|
Have you checked Maria Tatar's Oxford Anthology: _The Classic Fairy
Tales_ (1998)? She has a wonderful collection of older tales (and
a section on BandB) in that book. I seem to recall one about a pig
prince ("The Pig King"?); in this version, the pig kills
his first two brides, but not the third. Scary!
You can usually find Tatar's book in a library .... I'd also recommend this wonderful D.L Ashliman site for old versions of the myth:
(6/17/04 9:43 am)
Thanks for the tips!
(6/18/04 4:26 pm)
How Beast became beastly|
I think it's always been in the back of my mind that Beast was not an innocent victim, unjustly wronged, but was turned into a beast for a reason. Maybe it's because in the Cocteau film version (which I saw at an impressionable age), Beast assumes the human shape of the handsome wastrel friend of Belle's brothers. But in most traditional versions, the handsome prince is turned into Beast by a wicked fairy— either for no good reason, or (as in Villeneuve) out of jealousy when the prince rejected her advances.
However, in Marina Warner's "From The Beast To The Blonde," she cites a tale by Mme. D'Aulnoy (who also wrote an early version of B & B) called "The Green Serpent," wherein the heroine spends some time exiled to a wood full of beasts who have been changed from their human forms as punishment for their bad behavior (hotheads changed into lions; a "jealous lover" turned into a wolf, etc).
There are probably other stories like this. It makes Beast a much more fully realized figure if he evolves through the proccess of finding his moral & emotional humanity only after losing his human shape.
(6/19/04 4:15 am)
Re: How Beast became beastly|
For reflections on these issues and other concepts on bridegroom tales:
I was more aware of the modern ideas about the individual learning to love more than appearance and the 17th century fears about what a woman might find in a marriage. Terri's points about a past in which power is sought through uniting to the natural world are quite intriguing. As are the points about modern longing for, or attraction to, that which is more wild. There's also a reading list at the end.
(6/19/04 11:35 am)
Re: How Beast became beastly |
I found two German B and B variations,one with an interesting explanation of the Beast's enchantment, another in which he is truly very "beastly" before he is redeemed by Beauty's love:
In "Little Broomstick," the Beast's father hired a sorceress to turn his son into a Beast, because the son refused to marry the woman his father had chosen for him.
In "Little Nut Twig," Beauty's family tries to trick the Beast by sending a servant girl to his castle instead of Beauty- when he discovers the trick, the Beast tries to eat the girl! (Luckily she escapes)