McKinley: The appeal of Beauty & the Beast

From: Karen Chan <>
Date: Sat Aug 07 1999 - 18:21:51 PDT

7th August, 1999. 3:03 p.m.


"Just out of interest, what do you find the most appealing about the
fairytale anyway?"

and I suppose I ought to clarify my question. A month or two back I read
this book which was all about retellings of Beauty and the Beast - hang on,
let me fish out the details... ah yes:

        Betsy Hearne
        "Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of an Old Tale"
        University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1989, pp. 106-110.

Page 106-110 was the bit that I copied out for this list because it was
about Robin's "Beauty", and I don't know if anyone read it but I hope they
did because it was interesting, although the intellectual dryness may be a
bit hard to stomach for those who are not inclined that way! Anyways, she
wrote something that stuck in my brain - let me find it... ah yes....

        Part of the book's appeal is certainly its
        descriptions of a life anyone might long for
        - leisure spiced with high cuisine and horse-
        back riding, with learning for learning's sake
        thrown in at will. These descriptions are by
        turn specific and suggestive, allowing readers
        to luxuriate in a wish-fulfilling existence but
        leaving room for them to grow their own fantasies.

I guess I had never really thought about that but yes, that WAS part of the
appeal of "Beauty"; that she was able to do whatever she wanted - like ride
horses and read all the time - and it was the kind of lifestyle that
appealed to me because I enjoy that sort of thing.

The book goes on to talk about further retellings of Beauty and the Beast
and it points out the enduring elements of the story - things which are
used again and again by the authors and remain true of the original story
as well, as well as things that are introduced in one retelling and carried
on in subsequent retellings. Perhaps the charmed lifestyle that Beauty is
privileged to will be one of those things... I don't know.


"Hmm.... This may sound childish and corny. I think I like fairy tales so
much because so many of them are about transformations or coming-of-age
stories. A lot of times I feel like growing up is kind of like a quest,
and fairy tales make me feel that it's not such a scary thing because
things will be o.k. if you just be true to yourself, do the best you can,
etc., etc.. (And i feel growing up is pretty scary; there are times when i
have wished that i can skip the next ten years of my life so i can skip all
the fumbling towards being adult and just KNOW what the heck i am doing.)
Ug. I am expressing this very badly. Am i making any sense?"

Plenty of sense! I feel the same way about fairytales!! That there were
certain rules you had to follow and if you kept persevering and didn't give
up, even though you weren't hugely talented or immensely privileged, you
could still win through in the end. Kind of like life, really....

Please keep writing your responses, Tawen, even if you do think they're
"drivel", because I really am interested!


Karen Chan ICQ 2293920

"'The rule is," said Vertue, 'that if we have one chance out of a hundred of
surviving, we must attempt it: but if we have none, absolutely none then it
would be self destruction, and we need not.'"

(C.S. Lewis, "The Pilgrim's Regress")

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Received on Fri Aug 6 22:26:29 1999

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