Beauty and the Beast has been on my mind lately, since it's Belle French month on tumblr, and a new film adaption has been released in France, the country of the fairy tale's origin. I even began writing my own adaption of this story. So I wanted to write about the original tale, and why it means so much to me.
There is a reason why I love the fairytale Beauty and the Beast. It is the most realistic fairy tale that I know when it comes to explaining true love.
There are so many messages that the story is associated with. One being that you can never judge a book by its cover, and another that to truly love something, you must set it free.
But for me, the story is deeper than that. The story shows that love, true love is not something to be rushed, and it is not as simple as falling in love at first sight. It is a combination of the good and bad of both souls. Whether one may seem more pure or dark than the other, neither Beauty, nor the Beast are ever anyone but who they truly are.
The Beast, because of his appearance, is immediately judged to be fearsome and cruel. In many ways, Beauty is also judged by her appearance, and is almost taken for granted by her looks and personality in the story. But neither of these protagonists is ideal or perfect. Both are lonely. Beauty by being sent away from her only home, and Beast by being locked away in a self made cage.
It is their loneliness that brings them together, but it is their love that keeps them together. Beauty is naturally loving, and her personality is even put to the test with much of the Beast's behavior. But the Beast is also loving, even though he doesn't realize this. He never wishes to harm Beauty, and he doesn't keep her prisoner there for the rest of her days. His ultimate act of love is setting Beauty free, and Beauty's ultimate act of love is returning to his side.
This does not make Beauty a prisoner. She chooses to go because she loves her father, and she chooses to return because she loves the Beast. It is Beauty's ability to love that defines her freedom. It is Beast's ability to love that defines his freedom.
They are both prisoners in society because they are both different. Beauty is different through her personality, her kindness, which rivals even her beloved father's actions. The Beast is obviously different through his appearance. Both of their differences come together and create the psychological and symbolic formula of true love. They both save each other. Beauty saves the Beast from his curse, and the Beast saves Beauty from her cruel sisters, in the original fairytale.
True love is the art they create, even while they believe they are trapped in their lives. And that is the story of most relationships. We are told that if we are single, we are incomplete, and we all feel very different from the crowd. But once we fall in love, it is the desire to love one another that sets us free from daily routine. A relationship is more than just being attracted to someone, it is loving their faults, accepting their flaws and wanting to be there for them. This is why Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale. And I believe it is the reason Disney deems it "the most beautiful love story ever told."
Here are some of my favorite book adaptions/versions:
Beauty and the Beast by Madame Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Beauty by Robin McKinley
Beastly by Alex Flinn
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Heart's Blood by Julliet Mariller
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
East by Edith Pattou
Sun, Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
Penelope by Marilyn Kaye
If you love this story, or have recommendations, feel free to share them here in the comments.