I remember Beauty and the Beast as the first Disney movie video cassette that my father bought for me. I don’t recall how old I was, probably around six or seven years old. Since then, I grew up only knowing that the heroine in the story was Belle and the hero was Beast. Of course, I disliked Gaston but cheered up whenever the enchanted teapots, cups, clocks and candlesticks in the castle made their appearances. Ohh, and I still drool over the enormous library!
So I was enlightened when I read Beauty and the Beast on my Kindle. Jeanne-Marie wrote an abridged version in 1756 and it was later translated into English in 1757. Not bad, they translated fast, didn’t they?
In this story, Beauty is the youngest daughter of a merchant who had three sons and three daughters. Beauty’s two elder sisters were mean and only cared about themselves. They were jealous of Beauty who seemed perfect in every way.
The merchant lost his wealth and the family were forced to move to a farmhouse. A few years later, in the hopes of recovering his wealth, the merchant leaves for the city. Before he left, the sisters requested for dresses but Beauty only asked for a rose.
Unfortunately, the merchant could not regain his money, leaving him as poor as ever. He loses his way when returning home and finds shelter in a castle. Duh, he landed right in the home of the Beast! He eats and sleeps there for the night. The next morning, he could not resist plucking a rose from the garden for Beauty. The Beast appears and demands that in return, the merchant must sacrifice himself or one of his daughters. The merchant goes back home, tells his sad tale and Beauty offers herself up to the challenge.
That was my abridged version. Well, the story was longer than that but you could read it all under an hour. I enjoyed it somehow and simply ignored most of the stereotypes in the story.
Beauty = good, good, good, perfect!
Beast = kind, a bit stupid but smart at the same time.
The merchant = Loves his children very much but willing to sacrifice youngest daughter to the Beast.
Beauty’s sisters = self-centred, envious, cunning.
Beauty’s brothers = no personality.
Unlike The Little Mermaid, this fairy tale has a happy ending.
Have you read the story? Any thoughts on it?