Beauty And The Beast Essay

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How is the issue of gender instrumental or problematic in understanding the morals communicated at the centre of Beauty and the Beast? As Maria Tatar describes in “The Classic Fairy tales”, what makes Beauty and the Beast attractive is “the way in which it is deeply entrenched in the myth of romantic love even as its representational energy is channeled into the tense moral, economic, and emotional negotiations that complicate courtship rituals.”(Tatar, 1999) Although many of these morals communicated are essentially universal in their nature, some can be read to be particularly aimed at females. It is key then to consider how the idea of gender roles and especially the portrayal of inter-gender relationships are vital in interpreting the lessons delivered by the story. One of the most obvious interpretations of the tale is that it teaches the suppression of passion in women and obedience to their husband. In Madame de Beaumont’s version, Beauty is ultimately rewarded for acting according to female virtue rather than yielding to base ‘animal desire’. She does not find herself initially attracted to Beast but stays with him in accordance with other factors both economic (the saving of her fathers life) and also supposedly deeper values to so with the Beasts character rather than his appearance. This type of lesson has parallels with the ritual of arranged marriages which would have been quite common at the time of the tale. Many tales such as The Indian and the Tree preach using the same principle and girls marry objects which turn human (Carpenter & Pritchard, 1984). It appears to teach women the value of persevering with relationships despite their initial distaste or resistance. Our knowledge of gender roles are therefore instrumental in forming our understanding of the morals contained within the tale. In Angela Carters version, The Tiger Bride, the female

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