What is your favorite fairy tale? Having grown up during the sanitization of those old stories, as a child my favorite was Sleeping Beauty. To me, it was sweet and beautiful, and everyone lived happily ever after. But as I got older, my favorite became Beauty and the Beast. It IS a tale as old as time, as the song goes. It resonated with my adolescent romanticism like no other.
Yet, fairy tales are not just about romance. In their original forms, they were told to make a point. Usually to frighten. To keep children and adults in line. They are filled with sex and violence and perversions. Thus, the sanitization during the mid-part of the twentieth century came about. They became sweet bedtime stories read to us by our parents. And beautiful, stylized movies for us to fantasize to in the theatres. They brought delight to us all.
In most renditions of Beauty and the Beast, “Beauty” is a sweet innocent girl and the “Beast” is the tragic, animalistic man. We know that story well. We’ve seen it in many variations.
But it doesn’t have to be that way to make a good story. It could be changed around. William Shakespeare did it in The Taming of the Shrew where he switched the roles of the main characters. Katherina is the shrew – the beast – and Petruchio is the good guy. There really is nothing new under the sun! But have we ever considered that beauty and the beast might coexist in the same person? I’m sure we all know someone like that; sweet one moment and horrible the next. We probably all fall into that category now and then!
To me, Beauty and the Beast has never been just about romantic love, though it is definitely that. By my way of thinking it is a redemption story. Someone has done something that they need to come to terms with. They seek forgiveness and also absolution. They make things right again and everyone actually does live happily ever after.
It’s a great story but it is not just a tale in a book or on the screen. It is life. We all have something in our lives that we have done and are sorry for. We all seek some sort of redemption and absolution.
I turn into a ‘beast’ more often than I would like to admit. I have a sharp tongue and, though I try to control it, it seems to have a mind of its own sometimes!
Recently, during a heated discussion, I told someone she was acting just like a person I knew she did not like. It was not what she needed to hear and it did not make the situation any better. In fact, it made it worse. It hurt her and I felt like both an idiot and a failure for doing it. I knew better. Absolution for this one will take a while. But it will come. She will forgive me. Eventually.
The honest truth of humanity is: We are complicated creatures. We are multi-faceted and have many levels and sides to our personalities. We are not always nice nor are we always bad. We are a marvelous mixture of both Beauty and Beast that coexists in our own individual and unique selves. And even the best of us can become a beast, at times. The key is to not let him (or her) loose. At least, not very often.