Don’t Go Gently into That Beastly Night?

Beauty and the Beast (Disney) - Teddy Slater, Ron Dias, Ric Gonzalez

Recently, I saw that they are going to make yet another version of Beauty and the Beast, and I couldn’t understand why.


The way I see it, Beauty and the Beast has two possible interpretations. First, it’s about an arranged marriage. At its most basic, the plot of Beauty and the Beast revolves around one man making his daughter live with another dude indefinitely. The fairytale camouflages this transaction a bit: so supposedly, the father is in trouble and his daughter is saving him when she goes to live with a stranger, whom she, of course, sees as a beast because she’s scared and doesn’t know him. Good things are in store for the obedient daughter, though. When, eventually, she gets used to her captivity, she starts seeing the Beast as a human being, and they live happily ever after. In the times when all marriages were arranged by parents, this story was told to little girls so they would be excited about—or at least not rebelling against—the prospect of an arranged marriage.


The second interpretation is more timeless, but still solidly patriarchal. So, for one reason or another, a woman chooses (or sometimes is forced) to go and live with a male stranger whom she civilizes with her love, kindness, and tenderness. The civilized beast turns into a man, and a happily-ever-after ensues. BUT there is never an explanation as to why the woman had to waste her life on a beast rather than, I don't know, travel or start her own business. :)


I heard the latest massively successful book that uses the trope of a woman as a civilizing agent is The Fifty Shades of Grey where that young woman (I don’t remember her name) civilizes that young billionaire (I’m pretty sure his last name is Grey) out of his sadistic habits. So, it’s all sadness.


How do you interpret Beauty and the Beast?