For day six of Beauty & the Beast Week, I have decided to focus on the appeal of Beauty and the Beast as a tale type. In my opinion, this type of tale’s appeal is rooted in our emotional lives. It is rooted in our own desires for love and romance, which is a universal thing, as almost everyone desires companionship and being seen for who they truly are. What other tale better exemplifies being seen for who you truly are, seeing past the outward facade and visage and into the internal truth, than the Beauty and the Beast tale type? It is the coming together of two people, each of whom is misunderstood by their own families or society, and finding that although they seem to have nothing in common on the surface, they are united in commonality in their souls. What one lacks the other has balancing aspects to make for a more harmonious partnership, like the Eastern symbol of yin and yang.
Falling in love asks us to get to know the person within, seeing past the face they show to the world and into the true heart of who they are! This story continues to captivate, as it shows the innate truths of falling in love, as well as the balance of masculine and feminine energies that can lead to lasting relationships. That does not say that one needs to be any particular gender to be the masculine or feminine one in the relationship, but rather that those energies are present in all of us, and having a healthy balance between partners leads to a more balanced relationship!
The Beast is the traditional masculine yang energy of brute force (especially seen so in later tellings) and feral power. He is shown to be masculine in the more socially acceptable ways later in the text by showing his intellect and his protective nature. Belle, or Beauty, is the traditional feminine yin energy of compassion and empathy. She is able to look past the gruff and frightening exterior to see the wounded soul beneath. Belle can grow into her feminine nature more as she transitions from the maiden full of youthful compassion and emotional intelligence to the lover willing to open herself up to possibly being hurt emotionally to find true intimacy with another soul who set her heart on fire! This balancing of the masculine and feminine energies into a cohesive whole is at the heart of the appeal of this tale type. It is a tale type that provides a structure of romance that can be a true partnership with each partner bringing something important to the table and allowing the other to grow as the relationship evolves!
At the end of the day, the appeal lies in the desire for true understanding and intimate companionship coupled with the beauty of the balance of masculine and feminine energies that provide stability and growth. It is an ideal that many of us strive for in ourselves (as we all have both masculine and feminine within us) and in our own relationships. The attraction to a dangerous person (or one that seems so at first) is also a factor here, of course, but in this particular analysis, I find that it is more about seeing past the initial perception and into the heart of the matter. That heart being that the most dangerous thing in the situation is the possibility of being hurt emotionally, not physically, as this tale type is promoting having a protective and loving partner, not one who is abusive (I felt it important to set that straight).
I hope you have enjoyed my short analysis of the enduring appeal of the Beauty and the Beast tale type. Why do you think this type of tale is still so popular? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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- Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales About Animal Bride and Grooms from Around the World edited by Maria Tatar