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Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast was released in China mid March and after watching the wonderful retelling of the classic tale I decided I should read the original story. Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve is a French author best known for her original story La Belle et la Bête. (Presumably it was written to help prepare young women for arranged marriages, but that puts a whole different level of spin on things.)

The story, most famously adapted to film by Disney in 1991, and now again in 2017, follows a similar plot, though is altered in many significant ways.

The Plot

The story's main character is introduced only as Beauty, the name she is called through the entire book. She has five sisters and six brothers, and while we don't really hear about her mother, we know her father is a successful merchant and the family is wealthy.

One day, everything goes wrong and the family, who is no longer wealthy, is forced to move to the countryside. When the father gets lost on an unsuccessful business trip he finds himself at the enchanted castle. He picks a rose for Beauty, but is caught in the act by the Beast who tells him he must die unless he brings him one of his daughters.

The Merchant returns to the castle in a month with Beauty who has accepted to take her father's punishment in his stead.

When the Beauty and the Beast get their first after dinner conversation together Beast promptly asks Beauty to marry him and she naturally declines. After drifting off to sleep, Beauty dreams of a handsome prince, the Unknown, who she immediately falls in love with. The next day she finds paintings of the Unknown around the castle.

Beauty's every wish is attended for, yet she continues to decline the daily marriage proposal. Eventually she is allowed to return home for two months to see her family. When she returns she finds Beast starved nearly to death and resolves to accept his marriage proposal when he next asks.

The morning after accepting the proposal Beauty … Continue Reading →

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