The “Perfect” Marriage: Loyalty or Virtue

         The fairy tales of Bluebeard and Beauty and the Beast depict two different values of what a good marriage is based on. In Bluebeard, Tatar’s view of the perfect marriage is based on loyalty, being true, and obedient to your husband/spouse. When you are proved to be disobedient or untrue, it is costly and you must pay for your sins. In Bluebeard, we see a wife whose husband gave her strict orders not to go into a certain room while he was away, but her temptation took over and she went against his will. Upon returning, he realizes her disobedience and she is ordered to die as his previous wives were.

       On the other hand, in the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Tatar shows that virtue over any characteristics in a spouse is what makes the perfect marriage. You can be attractive and intelligent but have a cold heart; you can be ugly and dumb yet have a kind heart. This fairy tale shows us that “feelings of respect, friendship, and gratitude suffice for a good marriage” (60). In this fairy tale, we see Beauty’s feelings transform and her fall in love with a hideous man (Beast) simply because of his good spirit and kind heart. After repeatedly rejecting his numerous proposals for her hand in marriage because he is ugly, she realizes it is not all about looks/intelligence, and she may miss out on something good. She then puts her pride aside and marries the beast whose curse is then broken and turns into a prince. All he needed was a beautiful woman to consent to marry him and the curse put on him by a wicked fairy.

     The two fairy tales differ because their outlooks on what a perfect marriage is made of are opposite. Tatar’s view of the perfect marrriage in Bluebeard is solely based on loyalty/obedience and when betrayed, there are reprecussions. Whereas in The Beauty and the Beast Tatar’s view is the opposite– virtue is the key neccessity in a perfect marriage. A kind heart in any relationship is what leads to a successful marriage. Beast was ugly, but rich with a kind heart; Bluebeard had a hideous beard and was also rich but had a cold heart. In the end, we see it was Beast that made it to “happily ever after” while Bluebeard was left for dead.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The “Perfect” Marriage: Loyalty or Virtue

  1. I liked how you centered your blog around focusing on two values found throughout the text. However, I disagree with your use of the term loyalty to describe the prefect wife in Bluebeard. Although in each of the stories the female character broke their husband’s trust I do not believe they lacked loyalty to their husband as each of these women all remained in their homes while their husbands were gone. It appears to me you are trying to use the term loyalty almost as if the wife is a possession of the husband’s and they must obey his every wish and command. I do not believe this is what the definition of loyalty within a marriage concerns. Perhaps a different word, of obedience would have been more fitting?

    I also do not believe in either of the tales the idea of a perfect marriage is what is trying to be achieved. In each of the tales the beast just wished to find a suitable wife, not attain perfection. I also do not find loyalty and virtue to be opposites of one another, but rather both positive characteristics.

  2. I have to disagree with your assertion that virtue is the sole criterion of Beauty and the Beast: Urashima did not lose Turtle from lack of virtue, the princess was not concerned with virtue when she was compliant with the frog in The Frog King, and virtue was never even touched on for The Frog Princess nor The Swan Maiden. Yes virtue is of importance for De Beaumont’s romanticized version, and then more than a hundred years later in The Pig King (even though there is a considerable stress on obedience and complacence) and then again another hundred years in the most contemporary version of Tatar’s collection, The Tiger’s Bride. However, these gaps do not establish a solidarity for the argument of virtue. I also have to agree with alyssakarow; loyalty and virtue are not not exactly antithetic.

  3. Being that my editon of “Classic Fairy Tales” did not contain the different versions of each fairy tale (only one version per fairy tale was provided), my post was based solely off of what I had read from my book. The edition that most of the class probably has was out of stock when I went to purchase my books from OBT, so I had to check it out from the library, whose edition was older. However, loyalty and virtue do not go hand in hand as how they are depicted in the tales. In my explanation in my post, what I was going for was the characteristics which “sparked” each marriage and “broke” each marriage. Loyalty (or disobedience) in Bluebeard is what tore the marriage apart, whereas virtue in Beauty and the Beast is what brought the two together.

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