This up to date version of Beauty and the Beast, I believe to be the most current, is one I found quite interesting. It was written in 2009 by Juliet Marillier. To summarize it quickly, the main character, Caitrin, is on the run from an abusive past. She makes her way to Whistling Tor where she comes across a deformed man, Anluan, whose family and hisself are cursed. As time goes on and Caitirin learns more about the man and sees him through his bitterness, she falls in love. This version differs tremendously from our classic “Disney” version we are most familiar with. In that version, we see Beauty running off to save her father, whereas Caitrin in “Heart’s Blood is running from her past and looking to find something new. Her (Caitrin’s) beast is not truly a beast but a man who has a curse on him which left him crippled and deformed. In our classic version, the curse on Beast left him as a “monster” and once broken. turned him back into the handsome man he once was. We do not see Caitrin longing to want to be reconnected with her family or escape from the castle as Beauty did. Instead, she finds her new home somewhat “safe” despite is terror and wickedness. This version of the tale puts a unique twist on it as we can connect with this “Beauty” (Caitrin) more than we can with “Beauty”. Her escape from an abusive past/family leaves us to question why/what caused the abuse she suffered and to learn more about her background. As with Beauty, we know she was already the “prettiest” of her sisters and treated like an angel by her father, which doesn’t make her past as interesting. This version puts a unique spin on the novel and no longer leaves it as a “bore” as it once was in the classic version.
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Within these fairy tales there are two very different viewpoints of marriage presented. This idea that marriage is either a blissful union or a dangerous trap still exists today. Almost everyone has heard of or experienced at messy divorce or a marriage that seems it would be torture to be in. These situations are held up within the media as the stark opposite of the perfect love story. The entertainment industry is filled with examples of pure true love that prevails against all odds. This happily ever after marriage is shown in Beauty and the Beast, whereas Bluebeard acts as an example of a dangerous and menacing marriage.
When thinking about fairy tales the image that most likely comes to mind is the part at the end when the man and woman triumph and are rewarded with a true and pure love that seems as though it will last til their end of their lives. This love is portrayed as above other average relationships and as being based on things much deeper than comforts or looks. However, “‘Bluebeard’ stands virtually alone among fairy tales in its depiction of marriage as an institution haunted by the threat of murder” (Tatar 139). This image of marriage may be more or less common than the previous, however, it is still vital that both sides are shown. Bluebeard acts as a way to warn women that marriage may not always be everything its cracked up to be, which is not something often offered to women of the time.
Beauty and the Beast and Bluebeard are both stories of relationships that stand trials and have a woman involved with somewhat of a monster, however, that is just about where the similarities end. Beauty and the Beast depicts a loving story based on trust and mutual respect, while Bluebeard shows a heroine outsmarting her truly evil husband in order to escape certain death. They differ on their ideas about relationships between men and women so intensely that their remaining similarities are almost cancelled out.
I most certainly agree with Tatar when she says that Bluebeard and Beauty and the Beast are opposite.
I believe that Bluebeard (referring to the Perrault story) is a harsh and scary look at what marriage is, or was thought of at the time to be like. I believe, more for women, that marriage was considered to be scary and very much dreaded. It would have to be scary just marrying someone who might as well have been a complete stranger! I for one would be very concerned to be told that there was one certain room in the house that I was not allowed to go enter, especially if I was going to be severely punished for it! The idea I think this presents is that once women are married, their husbands may do with them as they please. I can imagine this would be rather horrifying for a woman.
Beauty and the Beast, on the other hand (referring to the Beaumont story) starts out dreary and a little scary; with Beauty’s father losing all his money, and the other two sisters being absolutely hateful towards her. Unlike in Bluebeard, Beauty selflessly offers to go and live at the Beast’s castle in place of her father. Instead of feeling trapped in the castle, Beauty has a rather lovely time during her stay, and grows to like and eventually love the Beast.
The most obvious difference between these two stories is that Beauty and the Beast ends well. Beauty and the Beast (turned Prince) end up living together and happy at the end of their story, while the heroine in Bluebeard is left to try and recover from the horror of the experience of her first marriage. Beauty and the Beast also shows of how love can change a person, and how it can obviously affect the way you see that person. There was certainly no mention of anything to do with love in Bluebeard.
Violence is a common theme not only in texts, but also in many real life scenarios. Since reading the Tatar’s book, I’ve concluded that violence in the stories we’ve read thus far is used as a channel through which morals and lessons can be administered to all who analyze the tales.
In the Bluebeard byproduct Mr. Fox, Jacobs writes about how fellow characters “drew their swords and cut Mr. Fox into a thousand pieces.”(Tatar 156). In present time, the grotesque details of Bluebeard can be seen as not appropriate for children of young age, yet the protruding violence theme in the plot gives leeway into a much bigger depiction of morals and life lessons. For the characters in Bluebeard, violence serves as both an aid and hindrance to the characters. For Bluebeard, he uses violence as a test to see who is worthy to be his wife; however, for those unfortunate enough to have fallen unreliable in his test, their fate will be apparent in the “forbidden chamber”. Ultimately, violence can also serve as assistance for the characters in Bluebeard, seeming that violence in some of the versions leads to the much deserving (and gruesome) passing of Bluebeard.
Similarly, Beauty and the Beast depicts how threatened violent acts can eventually lead to reward through obedience and patience. Although Beast primarily is seen as a frightening creature that at length will lead to the demise of either Beauty’s father or herself, he does show himself to be truly kind-hearted and only after the affection and happiness of Beauty. Because of her willingness to submit to the request of the Beast, Beauty is eventually rewarded with a blissful marriage that is built on her fundamental character of virtue.
When reading these fairy tales, it is evident that violence is used as a greater means of expression that is past the gruesome and explicit features. The theme of violence in Bluebeard and Beauty and the Beast give greater meaning to the morals of the story by allowing an outlet for the plot to unfold and lessons to be learned by all who read the tales.
The underlying basis of any version of Beauty and the Beast seems to be the metamorphosis of a character from human to animal, or vice versa. The story line also usually includes a wedding of some kind, which unites a human and an animal. The movie Shrek, although it may seem to differ on the exterior, has many of the same central themes as the prototype of Beauty and the Beast; especially the one written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont in 1757.
Perhaps the main similarity between the texts is human transformation. While Shrek was born an ogre and does not transform, his love, Fiona, transforms every night from human to ogre because she is cursed by an evil witch until she is able to find a true loves kiss. This is similar to the Beast in de Beaumont’s tale, who said “an evil fairy condemned me to remain in that form until a beautiful girl would consent to marry me” (Tatar 41).
Both stories also center around one moral: looks can be deceiving. Shrek is not, by human standards, attractive. His tough exterior makes those around his believe he is a mean being who lacks compassion for others. We learn later in the movie, however, that he is sensitive and self conscious about his appearance. This is why he lacks the need to connect with others. In de Beaumont’s story, Beauty has two beautiful sisters who have rotten personalities. The Beast, who is described as a monster, gives Beauty’s father (who was a stranger to him) a place to stay and food to eat when his journey took a disastrous turn.
This tale is very concerned with virtue. Beauty falls in love with Beast even when he is still under his hideous curse. Also, their marriage turns out to be very successful because it was “was founded in virtue.” In Shrek, there is also an association with the concept of virtue; however, it is much less explicit. Fiona shows merit when she agrees to marry Shrek, although she knows that this might not be enough to break her terrible curse. In fact, it wasn’t and instead of turning into a human for good, she is permanently transformed into an ogre. Shrek proves his virtue when he thinks she is still beautiful as an ogre.
In the movie, the protagonist, Shrek is an ogre who lives far away from civilization, in a swamp. In de Beaumont’s version of Beauty and the Beast, the Beast lives in a castle where “not a soul is in sight” (Tatar 34). This also seems to foreshadow what their dispositions are like. By living away from people, Shrek and the Beast are assumed to be distant and unfriendly.