"Beauty and the Beast" and Other Tales

The Themes and Evolution of the 'Beauty and the Beast' Fairytale College

The tale of “Beauty and the Beast” is one of the best-loved and most persistent fairy tales in modern culture. Its universal appeal is due to its endearing message of ‘true love’ and the idea that ‘beauty is found within’. However the concept of the animal bridegroom has been used in children’s literature for centuries and, much like the modern interpretation of the tale itself the idiom ‘looks can be deceiving’ holds true when it comes to tales like “The Pig King” and “The Frog King”.

“The Frog King” written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (1812) is the tale of a young and naive princess who encounters a frog while playing in the garden (Ashliman, 2005). The princess makes a deal with the frog, promising that she will let him live with her but then leaves the frog admitting she never had any intention of fulfilling her promise. Later the frog returns and the girl’s father scolds her and instructs her: “When you make a promise, you must keep it” (Tatar, 1999, 49). The girl does as she is told until the frog tries to enter her bed, disgusted, she throws him against the wall and he is transformed into a prince with “beautiful, beaming eyes” and they fall in love (Tatar, 1999, 50).

Alternatively, Giovanni Francesco Straparola’s “The...

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