Thursday, February 9, 2012

Morsel of the Day: Beauty and the Beast as a Popular Tale

Besides its wide appeal over time and space, we might note who this story especially speaks to. Over the years, I have asked people from all walks of life to identify their favorite works of literature; I’ve taken surveys, and some of the results have appeared in print. When I’ve asked people about their favorite fairy tale, one story consistently emerges as the most popular: “Cinderella.” But when the answers are divided by the gender of the respondents, after “Cinderella,” the second most popular fairy tale among women is “Beauty and the Beast.” Women tell me they love the tale because of its vision of feminine empowerment in the way Beauty tames the huge and formidable Beast and changes him into a gentleman, because it offers them the hope that in their own love lives they might be able to do the same, and because (they sometimes reluctantly admit) they are drawn to the erotic notion of the beastly lover.

But that’s not to suggest that men don’t find “Beauty and the Beast” an appealing tale. in my own experience, however, men have been less candid in describing the story’s attraction to them, but part of the reason may be, as W. R. Ralston has observed, that “many a plain man has been secretly consoled by the favorable impression produced upon [the story’s heroine] by its unprepossessing hero.”

by Jerry Griswold, from his introduction to The Meanings of "Beauty & The Beast" A Handbook


  1. I love Beauty and the Beast, it's a definite favourite. I like the story of the transformative power of love, and a strong female hero. I always liked tales where women do the saving! I really like the tale Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley, where he doesn't transform back at the end, I always felt it made more sense, after all, she came to love and accept him for who he was, why did he have to change at the end?

    A friend of mine always liked Cinderella. She had two sisters and i think always dreamed of being the one singled out for princess treatment!

  2. Excellent article and I think the post that touchs readers's concerns always rock and more comments to come