Beauty and the Beast

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Beaumont vs Disney: A Comparative Look into a Classic
Fairy tales and stories are something that has been around since the beginning of time. Tales were passed down from generation to generation, and in the case of fairy tales, these stories were not at first geared towards any age group, but instead for anyone, for entertainment purposes. Growing up, one of my favorite tales was Beauty and the Beast. If you ask children if they know this story, I would guarantee almost one hundred percent of them would. However, I’m sure the story they would know is that of the Disney version. In my lifetime, the majority of fairy tales I know are the Disney version. There is more than just Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast, for example, the original by Le Prince de Beaumont, which will be discussed as well. To simply compare and contrast the two versions would not suffice in really understanding the underlying tones and meanings of the two stories. Instead, an excerpt from Bruno Bettleheim’s, The Uses of Enchantment will be used to delve deeper into the meaning of stories and how they affect children. “’Safe” stories mention neither death nor aging, the limits to our existence, nor the wish for eternal life; the fairy tale by contrast, confronts the child squarely with the basic human predicaments” (Bettleheim 8). In this case, Beaumont’s version of “Beauty and the Beast” is a more effective one for children, unlike the always sunny, sugar coated Disney version.

When you read the two stories, it is very obvious to see how children were perceived. With Beaumont, stories were created for everyone and children were looked at as just miniature adults. You can see this in the emotions the story portrays. It deals with some very adult things,, when Disney kind of just scrapes the top layer of emotions, not really going past good, evil, and happy, and sad. However, the two stories do have aspects in common. If we look at the setting, both contain the Beast’s castle, the family’s cottage and the forest. One difference is the palace Beauty’s family lives in at the beginning when the family was wealthy, unlike Disney’s version where they were never wealthy. This brings me to another point, the characters. The main character is Belle in Disney, yet is simply called Beauty with Beaumont and also has brothers and sisters. In fact, the father is also not given a name, just simply the merchant. I kind of look like at the characters of the Beast and the girl as almost the same. In Beaumont, their names are given based on their outer appearance. People look at the Beast as this hideous creature, the girl as this beautiful human, and just by judging a book by its cover their names are coined. With Disney, Belle is given a name, however, even if you look at that name, it means “beauty” in some cultures. So, the story really never shies away from outer appearance and how important people feel this is. When we take a deeper look into these two characters, we find that they are more than their names. The girl is a sensitive, hard working, intellect, who doesn’t really think of her beauty. The beast, once handsome, was transformed into ugliness, which I believe has humbled him and made him gentle and appreciative. Also, I could see Disney creating names for some of the characters as a way to personalize them. However, Beaumont’s idea of not personalizing them gives them a broader audience to apply to. A character simply named Beauty, or Beast, can relate to a child how they might feel on the inside.

One big difference in characters is the addition of live objects of the castle with Disney and just of a magical presence with Beaumont. Disney envelopes you in the involvement of the castle’s live objects that were once human’s before the Beast was condemned. Why does Disney make these characters such a big part of the story? I have noticed that is it a running theme for Disney to add or embellish characters to their version of fairy tales. Disney...
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