Bluebeard- The Horrific retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Both faerie tales, <i>Beauty and the Beast</i> and <i>Bluebeard</i>, commence in much the same way- a beautiful young woman is forced into a marriage with a less than charming husband. However, as much as the two plots seem identical at first, they ultimately have  very different views on marriage and the intentions of the groom. This author has to agree with the statements made by Tartar that the tale of <i>Bluebeard</i> is “a troubling flipside to <i>Beauty and the Beast”</i> (139).

The role of family is completely opposite in both of these tales. In <i>Beauty and the Beast</i> the family abandons Beauty to live with the Beast in most of the versions of the story. In the De Beaumont version, Beauty is abandoned by her father and forced to live with the Beast so she may save her father’s life. Furthermore, her jealous sisters betray her when they try to make her stay in the house longer in order to break her promise to the beast. In Angela Carter’s <i>The Tiger’s Bride</i>, Beauty is also forsaken by her father when he loses his daughter to the Beast in a game of cards. This is very different than the way family comes to play in the story of Bluebeard where in practically every retelling of the story family of the bride’s come to rescue her from the Beast. Although many of the marriages in <i>Bluebeard</i> are arranged by family, the wives are not left stranded with their husbands such as in <i>Beauty and the Beast</i>.

Lastly, the conclusions that both stories draw about marriage are completely different. In Beauty and the Beast, Beauty learns to look past her husband’s ugly looks and learns to respect him for his virtues as Beauty states in the de Beaumont version- “It is neither good looks nor great wit that makes a woman happy with her husband but character, virtue and kindness….(40)” This conclusion infers that while many women are initially unattracted to their husbands, every man has their virtues and a successful marriage can be built upon these virtues. Bluebeard makes the exact opposite conclusion about marriage implying that men are not virtuous and many have ulterior motives. In conclusion, Beauty and the Beast assuages the fear of young women to marry and leave the home since in the story the families are often much less supporting and virtuous than the spouses. Blackbeard on the other hand, confirms these fears since in many tales family must come to the rescue of the bride at the mercy of the murderous husband.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Bluebeard- The Horrific retelling of Beauty and the Beast

  1. aeernst

    While in some versions of Beauty and the Beast Beauty is abandoned by her family and left for the beast, I feel like the most of them Beauty either offers or is strongly encouraged to live with the beast, therefore teaching obedience rather than leaving home and marrying is a better option when one has an unsupportive family. Especially in the version of the tale we know so well, Beauty offers her life in exchange for her father’s because of her love and obedience for him. In many of the other versions, Beauty’s equivalent leaves home and marries because it’s what is best for her family and very rarely do we hear any complaint, especially when their beast turns out to not be so bad after all.

  2. Samantha Cooke

    Another major difference between “Beauty and the Beast” and the “Bluebeard” stories is that of the major character. While perhaps Beauty’s family prefers to leave her alone to her fate, whereas the female protagonist in “Bluebeard” receives some assistance from her family, the two women are also very different. Beauty is generally kindly, eventually looking past the monstrous exterior to value the inner being. She accepts the situation as it is with an inner strength, and is pleasantly surprised by the transformation of her betrothed, but Bluebeard’s wife refuses to accept her fate. She is resourceful and clever, finding a way out of her predicament to her own salvation.

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