The Dark Origin Story of Beauty and the Beast
The story of Beauty and the Beast is a classic fairytale that has been told and retold for centuries. It is a tale of love, redemption, and the power of inner beauty. However, the origins of this story are much darker than the Disney version we all know and love.
The earliest known version of the Beauty and the Beast story dates back to the ancient Greek myth of Eros and Psyche. In this myth, Psyche is a beautiful mortal woman who is married off to Eros, the god of love. Eros tells Psyche that she must never look at him, but she eventually does and is banished from his palace. She must then go through a series of trials to win back his love.
The story was later adapted in the 16th century by Italian writer Giovan Francesco Straparola. In this version, a merchant’s daughter named Zoza is kidnapped by a Beast and brought to his castle. The Beast falls in love with Zoza, but she is repulsed by his appearance. Eventually, Zoza falls in love with the Beast’s kind and gentle nature and they live happily ever after.
However, the most well-known version of Beauty and the Beast is the French fairytale written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740. In this version, a wealthy merchant loses his fortune and his six sons and six daughters are forced to live in poverty. One of his daughters, Beauty, offers to sacrifice herself to a Beast in exchange for her father’s safety.
Beauty is taken to the Beast’s castle and is treated kindly by him. She eventually falls in love with the Beast and he transforms into a handsome prince. However, the story takes a dark turn when Beauty’s jealous sisters plot to keep her at the castle for longer than her original agreement. The Beast becomes enraged and nearly kills them before Beauty intervenes.
The dark undertones of this story are often overlooked in modern adaptations. The Beast’s rage and violence towards Beauty’s sisters is a stark contrast to the gentle and kind creature we see in the Disney version. Additionally, the idea of sacrificing oneself for the sake of one’s family is a heavy burden that Beauty must bear.
In conclusion, the Beauty and the Beast story has a long and complex history. The earliest versions of the story were steeped in mythology and the French fairytale introduced the familiar plot of a beautiful woman falling in love with a beast. However, the dark undertones of the story are often overlooked in modern adaptations. The Beast’s violent outburst and Beauty’s sacrifice are reminders that this is not just a simple fairytale, but a story of redemption and the power of love.