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Illustration for Beauty and the Beast by Walter Crane.

Beauty and the Beast (French: La Belle et la Bête) is a traditional fairy tale written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and published in 1740 in La Jeune Américaine et les contes marins (The Young American and Marine Tales).[1] Her lengthy version was abridged, rewritten, and published first by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont in 1756 in Magasin des enfants[2] (Children's Collection) and by Andrew Lang in the Blue Fairy Book of his Fairy Book series in 1889, to produce the version(s) most commonly retold.[1] It was influenced by some earlier stories, such as "Cupid and Psyche", written by Lucius Apuleius Madaurensi in The Golden Ass in the 2nd century AD, and "The Pig King", an Italian fairytale published by Giovanni Francesco Straparola in The Facetious Nights of Straparola.[3]

Variants of the tale are known across Europe.[4] In France, for example, Zémire and Azor is an operatic version of the story, written by Marmontel and composed by Grétry in 1771, which had enormous success well into the 19th century;[5] it is based on the second version of the tale. Amour pour amour (Love for love), by Nivelle de la Chaussée, is a 1742 play based on de Villeneuve's version. According to researchers at universities in Durham and Lisbon, the story originated around 4,000 years ago.[6]

Contents

PlotEdit

A widower merchant lives in a mansion with his six children, three sons and three daughters. All his daughters are very beautiful, but the youngest, Beauty, is the most lovely, as well as kind, well-read, and pure of heart; while the two elder sisters, in contrast, are wicked, selfish, vain, and spoiled. They secretly taunt Beauty and treat her more like a servant than a sister. The merchant eventually loses all of his wealth in a tempest at sea which sinks most of his merchant fleet. He and his children are consequently forced to live in a small farmhouse and work for their living.

Some years later, the merchant hears that one of the trade ships he had sent has arrived back in port, having escaped the destruction of its compatriots. Before leaving, he asks his children if they wish for him to bring any gifts back for them. The sons ask for weaponry and horses to hunt with, whereas his oldest daughters ask for clothing, jewels, and the finest dresses possible as they think his wealth has returned. Beauty is satisfied with the promise of a rose as none grow in their part of the country. The merchant, to his dismay, finds that his ship's cargo has been seized to pay his debts, leaving him penniless and unable to buy his children's presents.

During his return, the merchant becomes lost during a storm. Seeking shelter, he enters a dazzling palace. A hidden figure opens the giant doors and silently invites him in. The merchant finds tables inside laden with food and drink, which seem to have been left for him by the palace's invisible owner. The merchant accepts this gift and spends the night there. The next morning, as the merchant is about to leave, he sees a rose garden and recalls that Beauty had desired a rose. Upon picking the loveliest rose he can find, the merchant is confronted by a hideous "Beast" which tells him that for taking his most precious possession after accepting his hospitality, the merchant must die. The merchant begs to be set free, arguing that he had only picked the rose as a gift for his youngest daughter. The Beast agrees to let him give the rose to Beauty, but only if the merchant or one of his daughters will return.

 
Beauty dines with the Beast in an illustration by Anne Anderson.

The merchant is upset but accepts this condition. The Beast sends him on his way, with wealth, jewels and fine clothes for his sons and daughters, and stresses that Beauty must never know about his deal. The merchant, upon arriving home, tries to hide the secret from Beauty, but she pries it from him. Her brothers say they will go to the castle and fight the Beast, but the merchant dissuades them, saying they will stand no chance against the monster. Beauty then agrees to go to the Beast's castle. The Beast receives her graciously and informs her that she is now mistress of the castle, and he is her servant. He gives her lavish clothing and food and carries on lengthy conversations with her. Every night, the Beast asks Beauty to marry him, only to be refused each time. After each refusal, Beauty dreams of a handsome prince who pleads with her to answer why she keeps refusing him, to which she replies that she cannot marry the Beast because she loves him only as a friend. Beauty does not make the connection between the handsome prince and the Beast and becomes convinced that the Beast is holding the prince captive somewhere in the castle. She searches and discovers multiple enchanted rooms, but never the prince from her dreams.

For several months, Beauty lives a life of luxury at the Beast's palace, having every whim catered to by invisible servants, with no end of riches to amuse her and an endless supply of exquisite finery to wear. Eventually, she becomes homesick and begs the Beast to allow her to go see her family. He allows it on the condition that she returns exactly a week later. Beauty agrees to this and sets off for home with an enchanted mirror and ring. The mirror allows her to see what is going on back at the Beast's castle, and the ring allows her to return to the castle in an instant when turned three times around her finger. Her older sisters are surprised to find her well fed and dressed in finery. Beauty tries to share the magnificent gowns and jewels the Beast gave her with her sisters, but they turn into rags at her sisters' touch, and are restored to their splendour when returned to Beauty, as the Beast meant them only for her. Her sisters are envious when they hear of her happy life at the castle, and, hearing that she must return to the Beast on a certain day, beg her to stay another day, even putting onion in their eyes to make it appear as though they are weeping. They hope that the Beast will be angry with Beauty for breaking her promise and eat her alive. Beauty's heart is moved by her sisters' false show of love, and she agrees to stay.

 
Illustration by Warwick Goble.

Beauty begins to feel guilty about breaking her promise to the Beast and uses the mirror to see him back at the castle. She is horrified to discover that the Beast is lying half-dead from heartbreak near the rose bushes from which her father plucked the rose, and she immediately uses the ring to return to the Beast.

Beauty weeps over the Beast, saying that she loves him. When her tears strike him, the Beast is transformed into the handsome prince from Beauty's dreams. The Prince informs her that long ago a fairy turned him into a hideous beast after he refused to let her in from the rain and that only by finding true love, despite his ugliness, could the curse be broken. He and Beauty are married and they live happily ever after together.

Villeneuve's versionEdit

Villeneuve's original tale includes several elements that Beaumont's omits. Chiefly, the backstory of both Beauty and the Beast is given. The Beast was a prince who lost his father at a young age, and whose mother had to wage war to defend his kingdom. The queen left him in care of an evil fairy, who tried to seduce him when he became an adult; when he refused, she transformed him into a beast. Beauty's story reveals that she is not really a merchant's daughter but the offspring of a king and a good fairy. A wicked fairy had tried to murder Beauty so she could marry her father the king, and Beauty was put in the place of the merchant's dead daughter to protect her.[7] Villeneuve also gave the castle elaborate magic, which obscured the more vital pieces of it.[8] Beaumont greatly pared down the cast of characters and simplified the tale to an almost archetypal simplicity.[8]

CommentaryEdit

 
Painting of Petrus Gonsalvus (c. 1580)

Tatar (2017) compares the tale to the theme of "animal brides and grooms" found in folklore throughout the world,[9] pointing out that the French tale was specifically intended for the preparation of young girls in 18th century France for arranged marriages.[10] The urban opening is unusual in fairy tales, as is the social class of the characters, neither royal nor peasants. It may reflect the social changes occurring at the time of its first writing.[11]

Hamburger (2015) points out that the design of the Beast in the 1946 film adaptation by Jean Cocteau was inspired by the portrait of Petrus Gonsalvus, a native of Tenerife who suffered from hypertrichosis, causing an abnormal growth of hair on his face and other parts, and who came under the protection of the French king and married a beautiful Parisian woman named Catherine.[12]

Modern uses and adaptationsEdit

The tale has been notably adapted for screen, stage, prose, and television over the years.

LiteratureEdit

FilmEdit

TelevisionEdit

  • George C. Scott appeared as the Beast in a made-for-TV rendition in 1976, with his second wife, Patricia "Trish" Van Devere, co-starring alongside him as Belle in the film, which aired as part of the Hallmark Hall of Fame. Scott was nominated for an Emmy for his performance.
  • In 1984, Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre aired "Beauty and the Beast", starring Klaus Kinski and Susan Sarandon. The script, sets, makeup, and costumes were based on the 1946 film.
  • Beauty and the Beast, a television series which owed as much to detective shows and fantasy fiction as to the fairy tale, was originally broadcast from 1987 to 1989. This was centered around the relationship between Catherine (played by Linda Hamilton), an attorney who lived in New York City, and Vincent (played by Ron Perlman), a gentle but lion-faced "beast" who dwells in the tunnels beneath the city. Wendy Pini created two issues of a comic-book adaptation of the TV series. The series was cancelled when ratings fell after Hamilton decided to leave the show at the end of the second season.
  • Beauty and the Beast was featured in Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics. In this version, the Beast had an ogre-like appearance and appeared at the Merchant's house when his time to give him Beauty came. Outside of Beauty breaking the spell on the Beast enough to turn him back into a prince, the two of them sent birds to carry messages of their marriage. The narrator commented that he learned of this story because "a little birdie told him".
  • A version of "Beauty and the Beast" was featured in Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child. The story is set in Africa and features the voices of Vanessa L. Williams as the Beauty, Gregory Hines as the Beast, Debbie Allen as Precious, Terrence C. Carson as the Tree, and Paul Winfield as the Father.
  • A loose adaption of the story was featured in the animated series Stories from My Childhood. The voice cast included Amy Irving as the Beauty, Tim Curry as the Beast and Robert Loggia as the Beauty's father.
  • Beauty & the Beast (2012) is a reworking of the 1987 TV series with Jay Ryan and Kristin Kreuk reprising the roles that Perlman and Hamilton, respectively, had originated in that production.
  • A variation of the story was incorporated into an episode of the ABC TV series Once Upon a Time entitled "Skin Deep", in which Beauty/Belle is played by Emilie de Ravin and the Beast is Rumpelstiltskin (played by Robert Carlyle).
  • While Belle had appeared in Sofia the First, the Beast wasn't featured. Instead, a variation of the story is used in the episode "Beauty is the Beast" where Princess Charlotte of Isleworth (voiced by Megan Hilty) was turned into a Beast by the powerful enchantress Zinessa (voiced by Meredith Roberts Quill) because she was rude and insensitive to Zinessa's friend Morris the Goblin (voiced by Andrew Rannells). The description of her Beast form is a cross between a human and a wild boar with a wolf-like tail. Once Princess Charlotte vouched for Morris the Goblin upon the royal guards arresting him and became friends with him in front of her parents King Philip and Queen Everly (voiced by Fritz Sperburg and Jamie Denbo) upon being encouraged by Sofia, the spell on Princess Charlotte was broken and Zinessa left in cat form while quoting to Princess Charlotte "well done." After thanking Sofia who was transported back to Enchancia, Princess Charlotte invited Morris to the Summer Ball.

TheatreEdit

  • In 1994, Philip Glass wrote an opera, La Belle et la Bête, based on Cocteau's film. Glass's composition follows the film scene by scene, effectively providing a new original soundtrack for the movie.[31]
  • The Disney film was adapted for the stage as Beauty and the Beast by Linda Woolverton and Alan Menken, who had worked on the film. Howard Ashman, the original lyricist, had died, and additional lyrics were written by Tim Rice.[32]
  • In 2011, a new ballet adaptation of Beauty and the Beast was created by choreographer David Nixon for Northern Ballet. Works by several composers, including Bizet and Poulenc, were used for the score.[33]

OtherEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Windling, Terri. "Beauty and the Beast, Old and New". The Journal of Mythic Arts. The Endicott Studio. Archived from the original on 26 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Stouff, Jean. "La Belle et la Bête". Biblioweb. 
  3. ^ Harrison, "Cupid and Psyche", Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome',' p. 339.
  4. ^ Heidi Anne Heiner, "Tales Similar to Beauty and the Beast"
  5. ^ Thomas, Downing. Aesthetics of Opera in the Ancien Régime, 1647–1785. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002.
  6. ^ BBC. "Fairy tale origins thousands of years old, researchers say". BBC News. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  7. ^ Betsy Hearne, Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of An Old Tale, p 22–23 ISBN 0-226-32239-4
  8. ^ a b Betsy Hearne, Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of An Old Tale, p 25 ISBN 0-226-32239-4
  9. ^ Tatar, Maria (March 7, 2017). Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales of Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World. Random House Penguin. ISBN 9780143111696. 
  10. ^ Gilbert, Sophie (March 31, 2017). "The Dark Morality of Fairy-Tale Animal Brides". The Atlantic. Retrieved 31 March 2017.  "Maria Tatar points [...] the story of Beauty and the Beast was meant for girls who would likely have their marriages arranged".
  11. ^ Maria Tatar, p 45, The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales, ISBN 0-393-05163-3
  12. ^ Andreas Hamburger in: Andreas Hamburger (ed.) Women and Images of Men in Cinema: Gender Construction in La Belle et La Bete by Jean Cocteauchapter 3 (2015). see also: "La Bella y la Bestia": Una historia real inspirada por un hombre de carne y hueso (difundir.org 2016)
  13. ^ Crunelle-Vanrigh, Anny. "The Logic of the Same and Différance: 'The Courtship of Mr. Lyon'". In Roemer, Danielle Marie, and Bacchilega, Cristina, eds. (2001). Angela Carter and the Fairy Tale, p. 128. Wayne State University Press.
  14. ^ Wherry, Maryan (2015). "More than a Love Story: The Complexities of the Popular Romance". In Berberich, Christine. The Bloomsbury Introduction to Popular Fiction. Bloomsbury. p. 55. ISBN 978-1441172013. 
  15. ^ David J. Hogan (1986). Dark Romance: Sexuality In the Horror Film. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 90. ISBN 0-7864-0474-4. 
  16. ^ "50's and 60's Horror Movies B". The Missing Link. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  17. ^ Russell A. Peck. "Cinderella Bibliography: Beauty and the Beast". The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  18. ^ Janet Maslin (13 November 1991). "Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast' Updated In Form and Content". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  19. ^ "Beauty and the Beast". Movie Review Film. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  20. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GNhdQRbXhc
  21. ^ Maslin, Janet. "Beauty and the Beast: Overview". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  22. ^ Jason Buchanan. "Spike". All Movie Guide. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  23. ^ Calum Waddell. "Spike". Total Sci-Fi. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  24. ^ "Beauty & the Beast + Blood and Guts = Spike". HorrorMovies.ca. 11 January 2007. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  25. ^ "Festival Highlights: 2008 Edinburgh International Film Festival". Variety. 13 June 2008. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  26. ^ "Best of the Fest Programme at Edinburgh International Film Festival". The List. 25 June 2008. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  27. ^ Robert Hope. "Spike". Edinburgh International Film Festival. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  28. ^ Larry Carroll (30 March 2010). "Vanessa Hudgens And Alex Pettyfer Get 'Intense' In 'Beastly'". MTV. Archived from the original on 5 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  29. ^ http://www.premiere.fr/Cinema/News-Cinema/Christophe-Gans-decrypte-sa-version-de-La-Belle-et-la-Bete
  30. ^ "Beauty and the Beast (2017)". Retrieved 2017-03-06. 
  31. ^ "Alternate Versions for La Belle et la Bête". IMDb. Archived from the original on 11 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  32. ^ Tale as Old as Time: The Making of Beauty and the Beast. [VCD]. Walt Disney Home Entertainment. 2002.
  33. ^ Thompson, Laura (19 December 2011). "Beauty and the Beast, Northern Ballet, Grand Theatre, Leeds, review". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  34. ^ Mystery Legends: Beauty and the Beast Collector's Edition (PC DVD)
  35. ^ KQ6 Game Play video

External linksEdit