I have to disagree with Tatar’s suggestion that Beauty and the Beast contrasts Bluebeard. Both fairy tales are generally constructed with a beautiful young lady giving herself to a disfigured man that has a deep secret and lives in a castle. And aside from their analogous construction, both have profound assertions promoting spousal obedience, fortified by positive reinforcements or adverse punishments.
In De Beaumont’s Beauty and the Beast, Beauty not only saves her father’s life, but also her own life for her obedience to Beast, and inherits wealth, a palace, and a comely husband. Straparola’s The Pig King has Meldina, Straparola’s Beauty, who is also spared from death and given riches by being docile and reverent to the pig prince, despite his horrendous exterior and foul idiosyncrasies. The extravagant rewards for these subservient Beautys implore the importance of spousal obedience.
The Bluebeard tales may not carry as much positive reinforcement as Beauty and the Beast does (aside from the wives being deluged with riches simply for their hands in marriage), primarily because each version of Bluebeard centers an infidelity. However, the emphasis of spousal obedience is still present. In Perrault’s Bluebeard, Bluebeard’s wife breaks her promise to her husband by opening the very room he instructed her not to, and for this she can only throw “herself at her husband’s feet, weeping and begging his pardon”, but to no avail, Bluebeard has every intention to kill her (Tatar 146). Bluebeard’s wife does escape death only very miserly, however, the sisters of Grimms’ Fitcher’s Bird are not as fortunate, for their infidelity to their husband beckons their mutilations. Punishment for disobedience is not exclusive to Bluebeard; there are several versions of Beauty and the Beast that carries punishment for infidelity, which bolsters their similarity. Urashima, the anomalous Beauty for Urashima the Fisherman, is given a box from his Beast, Turtle, who specifically instructs him not to open it, and yet he oafishly does. Urashima is negatively punished for his disobedience by being forever separated from his love Turtle; all “he could do was gaze after her then pace weeping along the shore” (Tatar 68). Meldina’s sisters in The Pig King suffer even far worse for their infidelity: the pig prince strikes them with his sharp hoofs and drives them into their breasts so that he kills them (Tatar 44). Not only do these instances of punishment fortify the importance of spousal obedience, but their presence in both frameworks exemplifies the congruence between Beauty and the Beast with Bluebeard.
Beauty and the Beast and Bluebeard present different methods for conditioning the reader, however, both stories have the same judgment to reinforce. Bluebeard resorts to more adverse punishment, while Beauty and the Beast dons more positive reinforcement, however, is also know to involve punishment. Either way, both stories are vindicating the importance of spousal obedience, which therein lies the similarity that Tatar seems to disregard.