Fantastical Reimaginings: Beauty and the Beast 

Fantastical Reimaginings

Fantastical Reimaginings is a blog series where APL staff explore some of their favorite fairy tales - from their classic beginnings to popular renditions to modern retellings and impact on pop culture. 

Fantastical Reimaginings: Beauty and the Beast
by Nicole S.

Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" (Image from Disney)
Image from Disney
“Tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme....Beauty and the Beast.” Who else hummed the tune when they read that? Many people can spot that line or even the melody and say what it’s from - Disney’s "Beauty and the Beast"! I am a huge Disney fan and to this day when anyone asks me what my favorite Disney movie is, it’s hands-down "Beauty and the Beast". However, did you know that Disney didn’t create that story? Or that the original story is slightly different than the one Disney depicted?

History

The original "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tale was written by the French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and published in 1740 in "La Jeune Américaine et les contes marins" ("The Young American and Marine Tales"). In French, the title is "La Belle et la Bête". It was then abridged, rewritten and published first by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont in 1756 in "Magasin des enfants" ("Children's Collection") and later by Andrew Lang in the "Blue Fairy Book" , part of his Fairy Book series in 1889. Most of the later variants have been inspired by either Villeneueve or Beaumont’s versions.

The Original

Beauty and the Beast (Image from SurLaLane)
Image from SurLaLune 
In Villeneuve’s version, both Belle and the Beast had a backstory to go with their tale. The Beast was a young prince whose father had died while his mother waged war to defend their kingdom. The prince was to be taken care of by an evil fairy who attempted to seduce the prince when he came of age. However when he refused her, she turned him into a beast. Belle was in fact the daughter of a king and a good fairy. The evil fairy had tried to murder Belle so her father placed her in the care of a merchant who’s own daughter had passed. The merchant had 6 sons and 6 daughters (Belle being the youngest). All the daughters were beautiful and cruel except Belle, who was kind-hearted. When the merchant asked each of his daughter’s what they would like him to bring them back from his trip to port, the eldest daughters wanted clothing and jewels and Belle asked for nothing. When prompted, she asked for a rose as there were no roses in their part of the country. On the way back the merchant loses his way in a storm and stumbled upon a castle. Seeing it empty, he sneaks in to find food and spends the night. The next day he sees a rose garden and remembers Belle’s request. As he goes to pluck the loveliest rose he can find he is confronted by the hideous Beast who attempts to kill him for stealing one of his most prized possessions. The merchant begs him to spare his life explaining the rose is for his youngest daughter. The beast agrees to let the merchant return home to give Belle the rose but only if the merchant brings back one of his daughter’s to take his place. Whoever he brings back must be fully aware of the predicament when she accepts. Belle returns to the castle to take her father’s place. The rest of the tale you have heard before. 

Beaumont’s version is shorter by excluding the backstories of the Beast and Belle, with the beginning of the story the same. However the merchant only has 3 sons and 3 daughters, including Belle. She ends up in the castle and is instead told she is the mistress and that the Beast must obey her. 

Beauty and the Beast Re-tellings
So, how much has this classic fairy tale changed over the years? Are the re-tellings similar or impossibly different? Find out more about similar tales below!

***
Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"
Disney’s "Beauty and the Beast"
Available as picture book on Hoopla

This is the story that most people are more familiar with. In this story, Belle is an only child to the wacky inventor, Maurice. Everyone in her village thinks she is odd and longs for an adventure. The Beast was originally a spoiled prince who was transformed into this hideous form by an enchantress who he refused to give shelter in exchange for a beautiful rose. The beautiful rose is enchanted and entwined with the Beast’s human life. Each petal that falls brings him closer to his 21st birthday and once the last petal falls he will die. 
Much of this tale bares a close resemblance to the original - minus some characters and Belle’s background. However, for those that have watched the live action version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, both Belle and the Beast are given a backstory. 
***
 A Court of Thorns and Roses
"A Court of Thorns and Roses" by Sarah J. Maas
Available on Overdrive/Libby
In "A Court of Thorns and Roses", 19-year-old Fayre is forced to hunt in the woods for her family’s survival. Humans and fae don’t get along. So much so that there is a wall that borders the human lands and the fairy lands. Fayre has a strong hatred towards Fae as there are some who travel across the wall and hunt down humans. Fayre sees a wolf and knows it is no ordinary wolf - it is Fae. Without a second thought she pierces the wolf with her arrow, killing it. Finding out one of his own was killed with no regrets by a human, Tamlin, one of the High Fae, kidnaps Fayre and brings her to the fairy land Prythian in exchange for the fae life she killed. Fayre sees Tamlin as nothing but a hideous beast, but there is more to him than meets the eye.
The premise for this story, exchanging a human life for another and forcing them to live in a castle with a “beast”, makes it very similar to the original. However, this story continues as a series and involves mythical creatures like the Fae. This is one of my favorite re-tellings!
***

Beastly
"Beastly" by Alex Flinn
Available on Hoopla
Beastly turns the fairytale into a modern story taking place in New York City. Kyle Kingsbury is the most popular boy in school and always gets what he wants, which makes him arrogant and cruel. When he is voted homecoming prince, Kendra, the outcast, protests his victory due to it being because of his "physical beauty.” Kyle publicly humiliates Kendra and other unattractive classmates which prompts Kendra to curse him and physically transform him into everything he despises. The only solution to the curse is to find someone that will love him as he is.
This retelling is incredibly similar to the originals tales except that it is modern day in a high school in New York City. The plot involves an arrogant, attractive young man (the prince of his school) being cursed by a witch/enchantress and becomes a hideous “beast.” He must find someone sees the beauty from within. This book was later adapted to film that stars Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens.
***
For more retellings of this beloved story check out these titles available in our digital collection through Hoopla!
o "Beauty" by Robin Mckinley
o "Rose Daughter" by Robin Mckinley
o "Bryony And Roses" by T. Kingfisher
o "Beauty & the Billionaire" by Jessica Clare
o "Beauty and the Clockwork Beast" by Nancy Campbell Allen

Beauty and the Beast is a great fairy tale that teaches you to see the beauty within a person and to not judge based on appearance. There have been many versions of this story but the theme stays the same. Check out some of these titles above for yourself and let us know in the comments which re-telling is your favorite!
Also enjoy the pictures of my Beauty and the Beast shrine below! 😊 

Nicole's "Beauty and the Beast" Collection

Posted by svanholb@auroragov.org On 05 June, 2020 at 2:24 PM  

Leave Your Comment
Security Measure