Fairy Tale Fails – Beauty and the Beast

Well, well well… Looks who’s alive after the move! Me!! We’re loving our new place – but we don’t care for all the boxes we have to throw out. Still, I’m just so glad it’s out of the way and is one less thing to worry about. Now, on to books!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved fairy tales. I can recite every Disney Princess song forwards and backwards and in pig Latin. I love everything about the fantasy world, and ever since I got the Grimm’s Fairytales out of my grandparents bookshelf, I’ve been hooked for life.

But something happened when I read Grimm’s for the first time… I was horrified. The hard truth of the matter is that the fairy tales that have been recited to us thousands of times gloss over some of the most terrifying parts of the famous stories, and a lot of them are written by different authors! It’s like these authors just collectively said, “yeah, the 1700s are a really crappy time. Let’s just make everyone a jerk.”

I’ve always been one for Beauty and the Beast. As someone with brown hair, hazel eyes and a love of books, I’m pretty sure the story was written entirely for me. Sadly, that’s not the case, as it was published in 1756. In the original Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont version (I know, quite the name, right?!) Belle is actually the youngest of three sisters, the elder two are women who love jewels and material items, and who are really just nasty at heart. Their father was once a very wealthy merchant, but has lost all of his money so the four of them are forced to work on a small farm in France for a living.

The promise of wealth comes to him one day and he asks his daughters what they’d like as a present when he comes home. The two daughters ask for clothing and jewelry, while Belle only asks for a rose. The father leaves and gets no wealth or presents, but on his way home he gets lost in the woods and a creature that calls himself “Beast” invites him in to eat and spend the night.

In the morning, the father notices a rose garden and plucks a beautiful rose for Belle. The Beast notices his theft and tells him that he must die for stealing the rose (a little dramatic, Beast). The father comes up with a bargain – he can leave and give Belle the rose, as long as he promises to come back and he promises not to say a thing about the bargain to Belle. Belle, being awesome, gets the news out of her father when he returns home with the rose and decides to take his place instead, heading to the castle. This is really the only correlation between the two stories, and it’s really the best part. So much self-sacrifice! You go, Belle!

When Belle gets to the Beast’s castle he tells her that she is now the mistress of the castle and he is her servant. He begs her to marry him multiple times but she refuses every time. Every night that he proposes, though, she dreams of a really beautiful prince and believes that the Beast has this prince locked up somewhere in the castle, but never finds him. Eventually the Beast lets her leave to visit her family with the condition that she return in a week. She leaves with a ring and a mirror – the mirror allows her to see what is going on at the castle, and the ring allows her to return there instantly.

When she goes home she has every intention of leaving in a week, but her sisters are jealous of her lavish life at the castle and  put on a big show and make her believe that they really miss her and want her to stay – even rubbing onions in their eyes to make it look like they’re crying – while they really hope that the Beast will be angry and kill and eat her. Nice sisters! Belle decides to stay, but feels really guilty about leaving him so she looks in the mirror to see what he’s up to and sees that he’s dying from heartbreak in the rose garden. She uses the ring to go to him immediately and when she cries on him, telling him she loves him, her tears bring him back to life… as the prince in her dreams.

Now, in my opinion this is one of the most tame fairy tales. There’s no mutilation and not everyone dies. But, as this is the first of my new installment of Fairy Tale Fails, I wanted to start with the story that I feel bound to the most. Even without the magic rose, the kooky inventor father, and Gaston (noooo one fights like Gaston! Douses lights like Gaston! In a wrestling match no one bites like Gaston!) I still love this story. It has the same “magic” that Disney stories do and it even ended with a “happily ever after!” I really recommend reading this and seeing for yourself what a difference the two stories have. And can I just say, those sisters are complete assholes.

Until next time! If you have any fairy tales you want me to look up, read and compare to the family-friendly versions we all know, let me know in the comments or send me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

Rachel

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4 thoughts on “Fairy Tale Fails – Beauty and the Beast

  1. I took a Children’s Lit class is college and we learned all about the true fairytale stories. They aren’t anything like the Disney version. They have so much depth and hidden meaning, all of which can leave you scarred if you knew the truth. Just imagine what they might be like in another few hundred years. I can still appreciate them : )

    Liked by 1 person

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