The Fear of Marriage through Fairy Tales

The tales of Beauty and the Beast and Bluebeard both allude to the concept of marrying a beast-like creature, but for strikingly different purposes. The tale of Beauty and the Beast serves to ease girls’ fears about the man they may be forced into marrying, while Bluebeard, “stands virtually alone among fairy tales in its depiction of marriage as in institution haunted by the threat of murder”. (Tatar 139)  For this and various other reasons, I agree with Tatar’s assessment of the two works as opposites.

Although both stories focus on a creature that is physically unattractive and unsuitable for marriage (whether it be a beast, a frog, a pig, or a bluebearded man) it is only in Bluebeard, that a true beast even exists. This is ironic as Bluebeard’s true form of a human man is known from the beginning, juxtaposed with the Beasts various hidden identities he takes the form of. Each of the fairy tales incorporates the use of magic, but for differing reasons. In Beauty and the Beast, magic is used for good as the Beast’s true and kind nature allows him to transform into his rightful self but in the tale of Bluebeard, magic is used upon the key so that the blood will not be removed and the woman can be caught literally “red-handed”.

Another opposite in the story occurs in the nature of the girl arriving at the castle. In De Beaumont’s tale the girl leaves her poor home with her wretched sisters to go to a castle complete with riches and a man who loves her. In the tale of Bluebeard the girl leaves the safety of her home to go live with a man who threatened her life. The central sin of the girl in Bluebeard was her curiosity. Only one of the Beauty and the Beast tales, Urashima the Fisherman, alludes to this same original sin.

Also contrasting in the stories is in Beauty and the Beast, the girl has no foreshadowing that their husband beast will be transformed into a good character, a prince, and thus had to prove their good character by loving him regardless. However in Perrault’s tale there is foreshadowing of the woman’s fate as from the beginning they were ever further disgusted by their beast as, “he has already married several women, and no one knew what had become of them”. (Perrault 144)






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2 responses to “The Fear of Marriage through Fairy Tales

  1. ashleighbarraca

    I agree with you for the most part that the two tales are opposites. However, instead of the word “opposite”, I rather would like to use the word “complement.” I think you made a very interesting point in saying that the girl plays a very different role in both stories; it seems to me that this is due to the fact that one tale is more feminine and the other more masculine. B&TB, I believe, is actually more masculine because the ultimate lesson is that marriage and men are well and good. BB, on the other hand, teaches young women that men are truly monsters. Indeed, the two are opposites – just like men and women!

  2. autumncassidy

    I thought it was interesting how you drew attention to the two differences between the female protagonists by observing that one is rewarded and the other punished. Somewhat on a side note, I wanted to explore the idea that a characteristic, such as curiosity, could be viewed as a “sin” as you said, when in a more modern setting, I believe that curiosity is observed as a virtue. The quest for knowledge is one that is nowadays encouraged, while in the tale of “Bluebeard”, it can be inferred that had the protagonist not followed her curiosity, Bluebeard and herself would have lived “happily ever after” in the splendor that his wealth afforded them.

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