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Is there really such a thing as a feminist fairy tale?


Fairy tales are ancient stories that entertain the masses and teach morals to children. They are considered oral traditions that are passed down through the centuries as a tool to teach children how to act and think. In todays society some of those moral messages are being questioned. Beauty and the Beast is an age old fairy tale that is not about the passive female role. Like most fairy tales of that time it is partially rooted in the negative female role, but is also the most feminist fairy tale that has come out of that age. The female characters are usually obedient, silent, and helpless. Yet Beauty is a much more developed and intelligent character that doesnt fit the basic mold. This helps give children a more positive female outlook at the most crucial time in their learning, they also begin to see the strength in many old world fictional characters. The Beast in this tale does not control Beauty he is in a sense more intimidated by her and her beauty. This explains the need for both the Beast and Beauty to learn to love past beauty. This more female centered route of Beauty and the Beast was also used by Disney.


Interpretation for Children


In the case of Beauty and the Beast their are many different forms of interpretation for young girls. At young ages they absorb all this information that leads them into their certain roads in life. The strength of the female love in this tale allows children to see what a difference it can make. Beauty and the Beast proves the female love can redefine the brute in man and this inspires a more liberal dream for love in children. This dream for love was more based in the female role because of the major role Beauty plays in the process. It is not that she falls in love with her male counterpart but he begins the process. The emphasis on beauty and appearance proves to be a tool in teaching children how to love past beauty as Beauty had to. She learned how to love someone so hideous. She then understands that love does not grow out of physical attraction but out of a bond of respect. Giving her the talent and ability to see beauty in the inside and not judge a book by its cover.


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Some current interpretations feel that women need to see the sexuality in the beast before they can handle normal heterosexuality in life. Since sexuality is not based in peoples physical appearance yet the attraction to someone emotionally and mentally this needs to be understood. In this day and age sexuality has defiantly begun to be defined minus the active male role and the passive female role. Beautys goodness in this fairy tale inspired more idealistic forms of lessons that children should learn. Instead of a generic commitment to justice, she wants her own things in life not simply what the population wants for her.


Young girls think they need to prepare for marriage, where their fathers will give them away to their night in shinning armor after reading many fairy tales. Beauty does not go to the knight in shinning armor nor the one her father wants her to marry. She makes that decision herself. The story book endings that deal with the girl living happily ever after and the male being the hero leads, into a false sense of security. Those moral messages do not allow for young girls to see the other side of the spectrum. They start to think that men are the only option and heterosexuality is the only choice. In the world of diversity these stories are defiantly out dated, the options one has in loving someone is defiantly not a one gender decision. If Beauty and the beast is read in a lesbian point of view, the Beast is seen as the lesbian because of her feelings for Beauty and because she fells ugly and monstrous. The difference in the story is that love doesnt change the beast back to a human but the human (lesbian) is changed into the beast. This version of the story simply emphasizes the moral of seeing past appearances, not taking away from the strength of Beauty.





The character Beauty is one of the most impressive main characters in any fairy tale, she is defiantly does not play the simple female role. Beauty is the heroine and she isnt even a passive heroine, she takes on an active part in the main plot of the story. Learning and accepting love through her struggles allows her to reach a better understanding of the love she finds. Beautys willingness to take her fathers place in the Beasts castle proves her love to be so passionate that she would give up anything for him. This love she feels makes her character that much more respectable. Beauty was a intelligent, independent, and respectable young women which is a fit role model for any child. Beauty and the Beast portrays some of the most amazing testaments of womens struggles against arranged marriages and the definition of sexuality. Beauty is one example of the strong women characters in fairy tales.


The absence of her mother makes it seem as if one was not needed. Since she was also orphaned child the reader immediately identifies with her and sympathizes with her situation. This is a reason or escape by the author of this fairy tale to make an excuse for how different Beauty really is for being intellectual and motivated towards high goals, not just marring and having a family. In some forms of this fairy tale the father sacrifices the daughter, it is not a decision made by Beauty. This interpretation of his actions can also seen in the bible, this is an exhibit of how women were looked at as less important in the family as a hole. It was still her decision to finally commit to the Beast she was neither forced nor persuaded.





The Beast is a character that defiantly exemplifies that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Way people react to the beast is another way to see into the male point of reference, since he is a man it confuses the definition of what it is to be a man. Is he seen as a man or simply as a beast? He has all the feelings of a man, yet why was he subjected to such persecution. This basic persecution is from the blindness of society not being able to see past the outer shell. The Beasts animal nature is really seen because he feels inferior to Beauty, his inhibitions is reveled in his quietness and inability to look at her as an equal. Beauty is again up on a pedestal, he feels lower than her, Beauty is not the one proving her self. The Beast is trying to reach her. Beauty and the Beast doesnt focus on womens vulnerability to male violence instead it is dealing with mens reaction to womens indifference. The Beast shows his male desire and Beauty has a cruel female response of indifference. The venerability of the Beast in this situation proves the real status of Beauty above him. After waking up from his curse the beast also learned something from his ordeal (Warner 1). He was so obsessed with being beautiful the fact that Beauty feel in love with him made him realize that beauty doesnt make a difference. At that time the Beast as a character takes a more intellectual path.


Some of the sources felt that the Beast did not need to change his attitudes or emotions, simply his physical appearance. In a sense that statement is contradictory to the theme or moral of the story. That Beauty only needs to look at his outer Beauty to love him, and what ever is inside does not matter. In that case the Beast would not even need to change or grow, and Beauty could continue living her sheltered way of thinking. In the same type of a sexist point of view another author feels that the beast is a victim. The aged fairy which in most stories is a good fairy yet in this interpretation is evil fairy changes him into the beast because of malicious reasons. The states that the fairy wished this horrible curse upon him because he turned down her advances. The other story is based around the selfishness of the prince. That the fairy came to his castle asking for shelter and because of her appearance turned her down. The fairy then reacted by placing the curse upon him to teach him a lesson.


The Beast in this fairy tale also is a symbol of prejudice, that people who are not as attractive as others have are looked a as different. Another lesson is that of undoing the prejudices surrounding the humans. Beauty needs to learn the main moral lesson of that learning to be accepting of people wither or not they are beautiful, and trying to see the inside instead of simply touching the outside. The fact that she was forced to live with the Beast and the only reason she feels frightened is because of his reputation. Fairy tales often set limits with fear in Beauty and the Beast, Beauty has a limit when it concerns dealing with the Beast. That limit is set because it is the unknown, the Beast is simply rumored and no one knows what the Beast is about for sure. Overcoming her terrors is part of the moral or lesson in this story. In one story Beauty really contradicts herself wondering how women could marry rich brutes when they are evil instead of someone like the Beast. Beauty has to learn the lesson of accepting humans for who they are and not for the concept that the public believe. Learning that people are not always what they seem and that usually the large majority is wrong.





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