Tag Archives: morals

Learning Lessons Through Acts of Violence: Bluebeard & Beauty and the Beast

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.

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Violence central to fairy tales?

Violence as a form of entertainment is not a new concept. People think that violent video games or movies or entertainment in general is new phenomena, but in reality violence has captured the people’s attention for generations. In the beginning stages of most fairy tales, they were told for their entertainment value and to pass the time (Tartar 3), and therefore violence is important in these texts because that’s what made the stories serve their purpose for the listeners or readers.

Throughout the development of the purpose of fairy tales, violence began to be used much less and as a scare tactic instead of entertainment. For the reader of this new type of fairy tale, violence was used to teach a lesson or moral. In the case of Bluebeard, however, violence is used to challenge “the myth of romantic love encapsulated in happily ever after of fairy tales” (Tartar 139) and challenges social norms.

For most readers of fairy tales, violence helps in the reading of the text. Realistically, it makes the stories more interesting and therefore grabs the attention of the reader more. It’s the same concept of not being able to look away from something violent or disturbing even if you one wants to; this is human nature.

For the characters in the texts, however, violence is not as unilaterally beneficial. The heroine, Little Red Riding Hood, or her equivalent is eaten in many versions of the tale, and sometimes even more violent action, such as cutting open the wolf’s stomach, occurs. The violence in Bluebeard is even more extreme, and includes corpses hanging from hooks and dismembered bodies. While we never actually see violence occur in this text, the fear from knowing what had been done in the past is still as effective as actually seeing the violence.

When we think of fairy tales nowadays, violence is nowhere near the first thing to cross our minds. However, violence is crucial to these stories because that is how they entertained and taught the morals, and therefore violence embodies the purpose of these tales.



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