Dysfunctional Community in Contemporary Re-writing of “The Beauty and the Beast”



Year of publication 2022
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The aim of this presentation is to discuss two contemporary feminist re-writings of the traditional fairy tale “The Beauty and the Beast”, namely “The Tale of the Rose” by Emma Donoghue and “Beauty and the Beast & the Other Kidnapped Women You Haven’t Heard About” by Laura Lane and Ellen Haun to analyse the portrayal of the relationship to the community as a factor in whether the protagonists’ endings can be considered happy. Donoghue, in “The Tale of the Rose”, provides the readers with a masked beast who becomes rather close with the main protagonist quite fast. The beast is shunned by the local community as it lives alone and is constantly hidden under its mask. As the story progresses, the heroine discovers that the beast is actually a masked woman, a queen, who hid from the world as she did not meet the expectations of her people about how a queen should behave. In this story, the community plays a rather negative role. It was the people and their expectations who made the queen hide under a mask, and it is the community that shuns her as the beast without any particular reason. The protagonist decides to stay with the beast, and although it takes her some time to understand why somebody would choose a life of solitude when they could be ruling a kingdom, in the end, she comes to understand that it was the only way for the queen to stay who she wanted to be, not who the others expected her to be. The picture of community in Lane and Haun’s “Beauty and the Beast & the Other Kidnapped Women You Haven’t Heard About” is not much better either. The authors focus on a young woman Jamila and her friends, who have the shapes of common household objects as they make their escape from the beast’s castle. The beast in this story is more aggressive and selfish as he automatically locks Jamila up in the dungeons and does not make sure that her needs are taken care of while she is in there. Although Jamila’s parents try to get others to help her, they are unsuccessful because people do not care enough to help, and Jamila is left on her own. Luckily, she befriends some of his servants, who were magically changed into various household objects. They hatch a plan to escape from the castle, and they run away together. The importance of their care for each other is obvious as they only succeed only because they work together. Even though it might seem that these two re-writings are not very similar, they do have commonalities. Both show the importance of genuine bonds between the characters. Even if the community is not entirely functional, strong good relationships with other people are the main denominator for the protagonist’s happy ending.
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