Why do so many women LOVE the whole “Beauty and the Beast” fairytale so much?
My wife is a normal, well-adjusted, 26 year old mother of two. She fights her own battles and is strong. Yet she LOVES to read Beauty and the Beast stories.
She owns about 20 versions/retellings. These are the ones I can remember off the top of my head –
1) Beastly – YA novel where the characters are all in high school and Beauty is a geek.
2) The Lion’s Den: Beauty is named “Isabella” and the story is set in Italy. The beast is a don who was cursed to be seen by all as a lion.
3) “Beauty”: YA novel
4) Rose Daughter : Another retelling where the beast decides not to become human
When I ask my wife why she likes B&B so much, she just shrugs and says it’s cool.
The appeal of Beauty and the Beast, ignoring the whole true-love aspect, is the character of Beauty — she is remarkably brave. She not only rises above a situation where she is being victimized by a “beast” — as a slave, prisoner, whatever — but she rises above the obvious future condemnation of society.
Imagine falling in love with a monster — people would think you were insane. They would be repulsed by you. They’d call it beastiality or whatever. Someone would have to be very, very crazy or very, very true to themselves to be able to do that.
Women like the story because Beauty is so remarkable. She is everything girls wish they were — ambivalent toward society, true to herself, lucky enough to find her true love, blah blah blah.
Your wife might not actually care about the basics of the story at this point — she might just be a fan of seeing how each new author tweaks the famous aspects of the fairytale into something new. I’m like that with “Cinderella” — I like “Ella Enchanted” and “Pretty Woman” and all that, not because I really like the Cinderella tale, but because I like being surprised by new versions of it.
Tell your wife, from me, that if she hasn’t read it yet, she should look for the re-telling of Beauty and the Beast by British author Tanith Lee. It’s super cool. It’s set in the future. I think she’d be really surprised by it, and really like it.