Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

"Beauty and the Beast" (French: "La Belle et la Bête") is a traditional fairy tale (type 425C -- search for a lost husband -- in the Aarne-Thompson classification). The first published version of the fairy tale was a rendition by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, published in "La jeune américaine, et les contes marins" in 1740. The best-known written version was an abridgement of Mme Villeneuve's work publishd in 1756 by Mme Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, in "Magasin des enfants, ou dialogues entre une sage gouvernante et plusieurs de ses élèves"; an English translation appeared in 1757. [Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, " [ Beauty and the Beast] "]

Variants of the tale are known across Europe. [Heidi Anne Heiner, " [ Tales Similar to Beauty and the Beast] "] In France, for example, "Zémire et Azor" is an operatic version of the story of "Beauty and the Beast" written by Marmontel and composed by Grétry in 1771. It had enormous success well into the 19th century [Thomas, Downing. "Aesthetics of Opera in the Ancien Régime, 1647-1785". Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002.] . It is based on Mme Leprince de Beaumont's version of the tale.

"Amour pour amour," by Nivelle de la Chaussée, is a 1742 play based on Villeneuve's version.

Plot summary

A rich merchant lived in a city with his three daughters, of whom the youngest is named "Belle" (French for "Beautiful") for being lovely and pure of heart and her middle name is "Vinu". The merchant eventually loses all of his wealth, and he and his daughters must therefore live in the rural areas outside of the city. After some years of this, he hears that one of the trade ships sent by himself had arrived in port, having escaped the destruction of its compatriots; therefore he returns to the city to discover whether it contains anything of monetary value. Before leaving, he asks his daughters whether they desire that he bring them any gift upon his return. His two oldest daughters ask for jewelry and dresses, thinking that his wealth has returned; Belle is satisfied with the promise of a rose, as none grow in their part of the country. The merchant finds that his ship's cargo has been seized to pay his debts, leaving him without money by which to buy his daughters their presents.

During his return, he becomes lost in a forest. Seeking shelter, he enters a castle. He finds inside tables laden with food and drink, which have apparently been left for him by the castle's owner. The merchant accepts this gift and is about to leave when he sees a rose garden and recalls that Belle had desired a rose. Upon picking the most lovely rose he finds, the merchant is confronted by a hideous 'Beast', which tells him that for taking his (the Beast's) most precious possession after accepting his hospitality, the merchant must stay his prisoner forever. 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 go only if the merchant will send his daughter to live in the castle in his place.

The merchant is upset, but accepts this condition. He tries, upon arriving home, to hide the secret from Belle; but she pries it from him and willingly goes to the Beast's castle. The Beast receives her graciously and treats her as his guest. He gives her lavish clothing and food and carries on lengthy conversations with her.

Eventually, Belle becomes homesick and begs the Beast to allow her to go to see her family. He allows it, if she will return exactly a week later. Belle agrees to this and sets off for home. Her older sisters are surprised to find her well fed and dressed in finery. They grow jealous 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. Belle's heart is moved and she agrees to stay.

When Belle returns to the Beast's castle late, she finds him dying in his rose garden of a broken heart. Belle weeps over him, saying that she loves him; when her tears strike him, he is transformed into a handsome prince. The Prince informs Belle that long ago a fairy turned him into a hideous beast after he refused to let her in from the rain. Only by finding true love, despite his ugliness, can he break the curse.

Villeneuve's version

Villeneuve's tale includes several elements that Beaumont's omits. Chiefly, the back-story of both Belle 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. Belle's story reveals that she is not really a merchant's daughter but the offspring of a king and the same fairy who tried to seduce the prince. The fairy had tried to murder Belle to marry her father, and Belle was put in the place of the merchant's dead daughter to protect her. [Betsy Hearne, "Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of An Old Tale", p 22-3 ISBN 0-226-32239-4] She also gave the castle elaborate magic, which obscured the more vital pieces of it. [Betsy Hearne, "Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of An Old Tale", p 25 ISBN 0-226-32239-4] Beaumont greatly pared down the cast of characters and simplified the tale to an almost archetypal simplicity. [Betsy Hearne, "Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of An Old Tale", p 26 ISBN 0-226-32239-4]


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. [Maria Tatar, p 45, "The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales", ISBN 0-393-05163-3]


"Beauty And the Beast" is Aarne-Thompson type 425C. [Betsy Hearne, "Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of An Old Tale", p 8-9 ISBN 0-226-32239-4] Other tales of this type include "The Small-tooth Dog", "The Singing, Springing Lark", and Madame d'Aulnoy's "Le Mouton" ("The Ram (fairy tale)"). [Heidi Anne Heiner, " [ Tales Similar to Beauty and the Beast] "]

Closely related to them are tales of Aarne-Thompson type 425A. [Betsy Hearne, "Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of An Old Tale", p 10-11 ISBN 0-226-32239-4] These include "The Sprig of Rosemary", "Cupid and Psyche", "East of the Sun and West of the Moon", "The Black Bull of Norroway", "The Daughter of the Skies", "The Enchanted Pig", and "White-Bear-King-Valemon". [Heidi Anne Heiner, " [ Tales Similar to East of the Sun & West of the Moon] "]

A common motif, often found in such tales, is that the transformation was accomplished by a thwarted supernatural lover -- nereid, fairy, elf, or troll; the victim must live in that form until finding another love, as beautiful as the thwarted lover. [Francis James Child, "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads", v 1, p 313-4, Dover Publications, New York 1965] .


The tale has been notably adapted for both stage and screen several times.

Film versions

A French version of "La Belle et la Bête" was made in 1946, directed by Jean Cocteau, starring Jean Marais as "the Beast" and Josette Day as "the Beauty". This version adds a subplot involving Belle's suitor Avenant, who schemes along with Belle's brother and sisters to journey to Beast's castle to kill him and capture his riches while the sisters work to delay Belle's return to the castle. When Avenant enters the magic pavilion which is the source of Beast's power, he is struck by an arrow fired by a guardian statue of the Roman goddess Diana, which transforms Avenant into Beast and reverses the original Beast's curse.

A Soviet animated feature film called "The Scarlet Flower", using a rotoscoping technology, was filmed in 1952 based on Sergei Aksakov's version. The story was set in a Middle-Age slavic background, and the characters speak Old Russian in the vein of traditional tales.

A 1962 version with Joyce Taylor and Mark Damon had the Beast as a prince who transformed into werewolf at night. The makeup was by Jack Pierce and based on his Universal Studios Wolf Man design.

In 1987, The Cannon Group and Golan-Globus Productions released a musical live action version, directed by Eugene Marner, starring John Savage as Beast, and Rebecca De Mornay as Beauty, with original music by Lori McKelvey. The plot of this adaption is more comparable to the authoritative Beaumont version than others. It was released on VHS in 1988 by Canon Video, and on DVD in 2005 by MGM Home Entertainment.

In 1991, Walt Disney Feature Animation produced a musical animated film adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast", directed by Kirk Wise & Gary Trousdale, with a screenplay by Linda Woolverton, and songs by Alan Menken & Howard Ashman. It won Academy Awards for Best Song and Best Original Score, and is the only animated film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. It was also one of only two animated films included in AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions list, which announced the 100 greatest love stories of all time. Like the 1946 version, the Disney version also names Beauty "Belle", and gives her a handsome suitor (here named Gaston) who eventually plots to kill the Beast. Other aspects of the story are changed or added as well: In the Disney version, Belle's father (here called Maurice) is an inventor, not a merchant, and Belle is his only daughter. Belle is befriended by the Beast's servants, who have been transformed into household objects. (There is also an element of Bluebeard in it, in the sense that she is told, early on in the Beast's castle, not to go in a certain chamber, but disobeys him out of curiosity.) Belle returns from the Beast's castle when the popular but violent and boorish Gaston threatens Maurice, but eventually Gaston is killed during a final confrontation with the Beast. "Beauty and the Beast" is now considered one of the Walt Disney Company's classic animated films.

Children's film producer Diane Eskenazi produced an adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast" for Golden Films in 1993. The film, which relied on moderate animation techniques but was mostly faithful to the original tale, featured classical compositions as opposed to an original soundtrack, featuring the works of many well-known popular composers.

tage versions

*The Disney film was adapted for the stage 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. Seven new songs, "No Matter What", "Me", "Home", "How Long Must This Go On?", "Maison des Lunes", "Human Again", and "If I Can't Love Her" were added to those appearing in the original film score in the stage version. "Human Again" was a song written for the movie by Howard Ashman before he died. It was found many years later in his files. He had chosen to cut it from the release but never actually shared it with Alan Menken or the others. When it was found, it was animated and integrated into the movie for the DVD release of the movie, as well as the stage production. Later, another song, "A Change In Me", was added for Belle. There is a great deal of emphasis on pyrotechnics, costuming and special effects to produce the imagery of the enchanted castle that was produced by Disney Theatrical. Some characters are given names and bigger roles, like the feather duster (Babette) and the Wardrobe (Madame de la Grande Bouche). This version of Beauty and the Beast is often examined in gender studies because of the underlying female and male roles it presents to young audiences.

*In 2003, the RSC put a version on stage that was closer to the original story than the Disney version. It was so popular that the RSC repeated it in 2004 with additions and slight variations to their original script.

*Beauty and the Beast is often performed as a pantomime in the UK - there are many versions by many different authors. Often the character of a witch is introduced who turns the Prince into the Beast because he refuses to marry her - and a good fairy (usually called the Rose Fairy) who intervenes to help the plot reach a happy conclusion. Also in the pantomime versions the Prince often meets and falls in love with Beauty prior to his transformation (making the story more Cinderella-like). The traditional pantomime Dame figure (man dressed outrageously as a woman) can be either Beauty's mother or (again Cinderella-like) two of her sisters.

*The musical version of "Beauty and the Beast" closed on July 29, 2007 after 5,464 regular performances (and 46 previews). Donny Osmond returned to play Gaston in the final performance. With Disney set to release its Broadway version of "The Little Mermaid" on November 3, 2007, it was believed that having two Disney heroines on Broadway at the same time would divide audiences between the two shows. "The Little Mermaid" is open in the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre - the same theatre that "Beauty and the Beast" ran in from 1999 - 2007.

*Beauty and the Beast was The Castle Theatre Wellingborough Christmas show in Nov-Dec 2007 with all new music. The Castle's version of Beauty and the Beast tells the original story, though a traveling theatre company. The set included a spinning cavivan.


George C. Scott turned in a made-for-TV rendition in 1976, in which, early in the presentation, his Belle Beaumont Trish Van Devere spots him devouring some of the local wildlife in the style of a lion, only later to comport himself in his dialogues with her (still as the Beast) with the nobility and charm of a knight. Scott was nominated for an Emmy for his performance.

In 1984, Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre produced an adaptation starring Klaus Kinski and Susan Sarandon. The sets, makeup and costumes were based on the 1946 film.

"Beauty and the Beast", which owed as much to detective shows and fantasy fiction as to the fairy tale, originally broadcast from 1987 to 1989. This was centred around the relationship between Catherine, an attorney who lived in New York City, played by Linda Hamilton, and Vincent, a gentle but lion-faced "beast", played by Ron Perlman, 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. There was also a 1995 cartoon based on Belle, from Disney's Beauty and The Beast.

HBO's did a version of the story set in Equatorial Africa.

Fiction versions

Beauty and the Beast has been the subject of many novels, most notably in "Beauty" by Robin McKinley, the Newbery Award-winning author. McKinley's second voyage into the tale of Beauty and the Beast resulted in "Rose Daughter".

Tanith Lee's collection "Red As Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer" included a science-fiction retelling, in which a wealthy merchant's daughter living in the far future falls in love with an alien.

Donna Jo Napoli wrote a YA novel, "Beast", centered around the Beast's point-of-view and his life before he met Beauty. Besides the additional back-story, this version stays close to the original.

Nancy Holder wrote an entry in the Once Upon a Time series called "Spirited", which is a loose retelling of the story with a young Englishwoman named Isabella Stevenson who falls in love with her captor, Wusamequin, a brooding Mohican medicine man during the French and Indian War.

Beauty and the Beast are characters in the "Fables" comic book. They are resident in the New York City branch of Fabletown, and are rather poor at the beginning of the series. Beast's continued human appearance is contingent on the happiness of their marriage; when they quarrel, he begins to revert to his monstrous form. After the election of Prince Charming as mayor of Fabletown, they are promoted to, respectively, assistant to the mayor and sheriff, replacing Snow White and Bigby Wolf (Big Bad Wolf).

The story was adapted by Mercedes Lackey into her "Elemental Masters" novel "The Fire Rose", setting the story in early 20th-century San Francisco.

Shigeru Miyamoto cited the story as an inspiration for the Nintendo game "Donkey Kong".

In 1967, a made-for television movie called "Ugly and the Model" was made. It was a parody of the tale and is very loosely based on it.

The Beast and later Beauty make a small appearance in the webcomic "No Rest for the Wicked".

Megan Hussey's "Behold the Beauty," featured in Midnight Showcase's "Deities of Desire" erotic digest, is a feminist spin on the "Beauty and the Beast" tale. Hero Prince Beausoleil is a classically handsome young man who falls desperately in love with the healer Agnatha, who is an unconventional, often ridiculed woman who lives in the woods of Ravenshead, a mythical European province where the prince's family rules and where many younger, more conventionally attractive women vie for his affections.

Two separate adaptations of the tale appear in Angela Carter's short story collection "The Bloody Chamber", which reinterprets several different fairy tales.

Fantasy author Francesca Lia Block included a retelling of the story in her collection "The Rose and the Beast", which features modern retellings and alternate endings for nine classic fairy tales including "The Snow Queen" and "Snow White". In her version, called "Beast", Beauty comes to prefer the Beast as a monster and is saddened when he is transformed.

The story also served as a plot for the 10th issue of Serena Valentino's comic book Nightmares & Fairy Tales. In this version, Belle is a lesbian and her lover, Rose, is taken away from her and transformed into the Beast. If Belle can discover who the Beast truly is, the curse will be broken.

In Emily Short's introductory interactive fiction [ Bronze] , the plot is an expanded version of Beauty's return to the castle.

The manga /anime series InuYasha contains influences from this tale.

A modern version Beastly by Alex Flinn portrays the Beast as Kyle Kingsbury, the spoiled son of a news reporter in New York. He invites a witch to his high school dance as a joke, whereupon she casts a spell on him, transforming him into a beast. He must find true love and a kiss in two years, or he will remain a beast forever. This is heavily based on "La Belle et la bete", which the text calls a source on the last page.

The relationship between Arkan and Maerad in Alison Croggon's fantasy novel "The Riddle" is similar in some respects to that of the Beast and Belle, in that Maerad is a guest/prisoner in Arkan's palace and finds herself sexually desirous of him, while Arkan finds himself similarly drawn to her.

In the "Darkangel" trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce, Aeriel is a young girl held captive by the vampire Irrylath, who is eventually freed from his vampirism and his service to the sorceress that bound him to it when Aeriel loves him and acts based on her love. In his backstory, it is revealed that Irrylath had been seized, seduced, and eventually changed into a vampire by the sorceress, much as the prince in "La Belle et la bete" was cursed by the fairy.

Beauty and the Beast in popular culture

*The American television series "Beauty and the Beast", created in 1987, was set in late 20th century New York City, with Beauty a modern day lawyer and the Beast a gentle lion-faced being living with other outcasts from modern society in hidden caves under the city.
*"Beauty and the Geek" is a television show produced by Ashton Kutcher
*Beauty and the Beast is a critical plot theme of the "Jem" TV series episode "Beauty and the Rock Promoter".
*Beauty and the Beast is the plot of the music video, and supposedly of the song, "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" by Meat Loaf.
*Stevie Nicks wrote the song "Beauty and the Beast" from her 1983 album "The Wild Heart" after viewing the Jean Cocteau film.Fact|date=December 2007
* "Beauty and the Beast" is the name of a song by David Bowie.
* "Beauty and the Beast" is the name of a song by jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter
* "Beauty Is the Beast" is the name of a song by the Swedish band The Ark.
*Marvel Comics published a four issue mini series titled "Beauty & The Beast" starring the X-Men's Beast and the Dazzler.
*The video game "" introduces a female quartet of bosses known as the Beauty and the Beast Unit.
*The characters of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" feature as part of the Squaresoft game "Kingdom Hearts", with Belle being one of the captured princesses that must be rescued, and the Beast being a temporary party member. They reappear in "Kingdom Hearts II", with the Beast's Castle being a world level, and the Beast being a key in the evil Organization XIII's plot.
*Influenced the movie "The Beautician and the Beast".
*Many gothic metal and black metal bands (such as Sirenia, Penumbra, and Via Mistica) simultaneously employ the use of male death growl vocals and melodious female vocals in their songs, and the ensuing combined vocal style of such music is known popularly as Beauty and the Beast vocals.
*An episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is called "Beauty and the Beasts".
*A Babyshambles song on their debut album is titled "La Belle et la Bête". In this instance Pete Doherty is talking of his relationship with former girlfriend Kate Moss.

See also

*Stockholm syndrome
*Damsel in distress
*Noble savage
*The Feather of Finist the Falcon
* "The Phantom of the Opera"
* "Dracula"
* "King Kong"
* "Macbeth"
* "Notre Dame de Paris"


External links

* [ Beauty and the beast is playing at the PPP from may 1-17 2008]
* [ SurLaLune Fairy Tale Pages: The Annotated Beauty and the Beast]
* [ "Beauty and the Beast: folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 425C]
* [ Cinderella Bibliography - includes an exhaustive list of B&tB productions in books, TV and recordings]
* [ 20 "MercerMayer" illustrations]
* [ Theatre Cedar Rapids Beauty and the Beast Production Photo Gallery] - Great photographic overview of the whole show scene, including costumes and sets.
* [ Beauty and the Beast fairy tale with Edmund Dulac illustrations]
* [ Full text of Beauty and the Beast from "The Fairy Book"]

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