"The eye sees what it will,
but the heart sees what it should."
Laurence Yep's The Dragon Prince


NovelsPicture BooksShort StoriesMoviesPsychology

Below are (or will be in the future) several novels, movies, and short stories that I have read that are about "Beauty and the Beast" or its variants. This page is mostly to help me keep them all straight in my head. I sometimes read upwards of ten versions a week so it can get confusing. This page is mostly for my own benefit but if anyone else should happen upon this, there are spoilers. I have tried to keep them out of the synopsis section, however. I will give a brief synopsis and then describe the material based on the following categories:

Location: I just find it interesting to see where the story is set

"Magicalness": Was it magical or more realistic?

Romance: Was there any? If not, did it compensate in other areas?
Illustrations: If there were any, did I like them? If it was a film or TV show this becomes "Production Values."

Interesting changes: Anything that really makes this stand out from other versions. Like the Beast being female or truly evil.

Beast's appearance: I figure if nothing else triggers my memory, this will.

This template is not used in the Psychology section where an altered one is introduced.



Angelfish by Laurence Yep

Synopsis: A young ballerina named Robin has just been given the part of Beauty in her ballet school's latest production. She accidentally shatters the window of a local pet fish shop and must work there for three months to pay for it. She begins to see her boss, Mr. Tsau, as a real life Beast. He only reveals kindness when he tends his beloved angelfish. Through her Grandmother, Robin learns of Mr. Tsau's past and her own Chinese culture and history.

Location: The story is actually set in America (can't recall where exactly, New York maybe). However, China plays a central part in the story.

"Magicalness": This story could have really happened. I suppose you could say there is "everyday magic" in it.

Romance: Not in the traditional sense. The reader comes to find out that the Beauty to Mr. Tsau's Beast is actually Dance itself.

Illustrations: This is not illustrated given that it is a young adult novel and not necessary.

Interesting changes: Everything is symbolic. There's no magical spells, physical transformations, etc. The story is much more dependent on actual history than other versions.

Beast's appearance: Since this is symbolic he looks like a normal 60ish man from China.
Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey

Synopsis: Rosalind Hawkin's father dies and leaves her to deal with all of his debts. A mysterious man sends her professor a letter asking for a governess for his two children. Rosalind agrees to take the job only to find out that her employer, Jason, has no children but was left crippled and deformed by an accident. Instead of caring for children, every night she reads texts about magic to Jason through a speaking tube. Later she finds out that Jason's accident was far from typical and that his current state was the result of a failed magic spell.

Location: Rose lives in Chicago and then moves to San Francisco after Jason hires her.

"Magicalness": Jason is a magician so, yeah, plenty of *that*.

Romance: Yep, it becomes really evident about half way through the book. Given this is a 400+ page novel it deals with the repercussions more, too.

Illustrations: Not illustrated.

Interesting changes: It doesn't wait til the very end to establish that the characters are in love with each other.

Beast's appearance: Half man, half wolf.

Beauty by Susan Wilson

Synopsis: Alix's family has been painting the family of Lee Crompton for generations. At last, her turn comes and Alix is surprised to find out that Lee suffers from acromegaly and lives as a recluse. Naturally, a friendship forms and through various trials such as her father's illness, Alix's tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend, and Lee's taciturn nature the two become closer. Alix is angered when she discovers no one will ever see her painting of Lee, including the subject himself. She stomps away with the painting. Will they be reunited? I said I'd try and avoid spoilers...

Location: New Hampshire, mostly

"Magicalness": I suppose this could happen. Nothing really magical. The ending is definitely grounded in realism.

Romance: Yep, a pretty complicated one but it's there. Its course is probly not to the liking of most people, though.

Illustrations: Nope.

Interesting changes: "Beauty"/Alix narrates the first part. "Beast"/Lee takes over towards the end. Giving the Beast an actual genetic condition seems new. And that was the biggest problem I had with this book. It doesn't seem right to even symbolically suggest that someone with a genetic abnormality is a "beast."

Beast's appearance: He has acromegaly.
Beast by Donna Jo Napoli

Synopsis: This is the story told from the viewpoint of the Beast, formerly the son of the Shah of Persia. He lives a life of luxury but after disobeying a religious law, a fairy turns him into a lion. Unfortunately for the prince, his father has scheduled a lion hunt for the next morning so he must leave his native Persia and search for forgiveness.

Location: The story follows the prince from Persia to France.

"Magicalness": Yes, complete with a fairy and curses! It also has a lot of cultural and religious information regarding Islam which was interesting and different from most versions I've read.

Romance: Yes, eventually. Beauty doesn't show up til the fourth part of this four part book, though.

Illustrations: No, but it does have a map that's rather helpful. It's really a very pretty book.

Interesting changes: The importance of religion and the geographical movement of the Beast and the story. Also, this is the first version I've found told completely from the Beast's POV.

Beast's appearance: A lion, walking on all fours and everything.
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast
by Robin McKinley

Synopsis: Misfortune hits Beauty and her close knit family when her Father's ships are lost. They are forced to move into the country. The story pretty much follows the traditional order of the story but with emphasis placed on Beauty's family as well as the local people. Beauty must learn to love not only the Beast, but also herself.

Location: Not entirely sure which country but Beauty and her family come to reside in a little town called Blue Hill.

"Magicalness": Yes, the traditional sort. Also, dreams are really important. It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to read this but I remember being especially pleased with this element.

Romance: Yes, and it seemed more natural. Not rushed or anything. This was the couple I was most impressed with of all the versions I read.

Illustrations: No, but the descriptions are quite vivid.

Interesting changes: Beyond the central characters of Beauty and the Beast, this story is also very interested in Beauty's family. They are all very lovely characters, with each of her sisters having an intriguing love story of their own. The story is all told from Beauty's perspective.

Beast's appearance: Doesn't seem to favor a particular animal (at least that I recall at this time), but walks and dresses like a man.
Roses by Barbara Cohen
(Added 8-20-05)

Synopsis: After Isabel's father takes a rose from a florist shop for her, the deformed owner demands his child come work for him as payment.  Isabel is at first wary of her employer, Leo, but then is drawn into his company when she finds in him a well-traveled and intelligent conversationalist.  However, her family and boyfriend become increasingly disturbed by the amount of time she spends with Leo.

Location: Winter Hill (Connecticut, I think) circa 1980s

"Magicalness": At one point the author seemed to be going for a sorta psychic connection but not much here.

Romance: Yes but not as much between "Beauty" and the "Beast" as "Beauty" and another guy.

Illustrations: No

Interesting changes: There's a lot of teenage, high school friends and family angst.  Plus the modern setting with Star Wars and Dunkin Donuts references.  A wider cast of characters than with most BatB tales.  Kinda found myself thinking of it as "Beauty and the Beast" as done by Sweet Valley Twins.

Beast's appearance: Leo survived a horrific car crash leaving him heavily scarred and with hands like claws.  Honestly, I found the character pretty creepy.  Way more into a teenager than a thirtysomething ought to be methinks.

Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee
(Added 7-27-08, Updated 7-18-09)

Synopsis: First, I just want to say that if you're a JABBer reading this and you recall me going off the deep end over a book... here's the book!  And I'm sorry.  ;-)  So beyond being the cause of one of my existential crises, what was this book about?  (ETA: Read it again just shy of a year later.  Still shaken up.)  Well, 16 year old* Jane lives with her single mother in a beautiful home in the sky.    Her life's pretty well about being who her mother and society want her to be.  And then she meets Silver...  Who is a robot.  Or is he?  ETA: NOOOO! 

Location: A futuristic Earth that has survived a destructive asteroid.

"Magicalness": A great deal of scientific "magic."  But what I'll remember this for is its spiritualness.  ETA: There's a part of this book that makes me really glad I believe in Heaven.  Because the thoughts one character has at one point are things I never, ever want to feel or think.

Romance: Well, it's rather obvious based on the title isn't it?  By the way, the title is the only thing I did NOT like about this book.  I'm not quite sure why.  Regardless, it's one of the most romantic books I've read.  Romantic in a tragic but not hopeless way.  (Quite literally it drove me to drink, thankfully just one wine cooler.  ETA: I did not drink anything this time... cept a lot of caffeine so I could finish it over night and then have two days to recover before work.  I learned from the last time.) 

Some people may wonder why I have it on this page given it's not technically "Beauty and the Beast."  For one, I learned about it when I saw it on some one else's list of BatB adaptions and I had no better place on this site for it so went with that classification.  Second, the progression of the love between Jane and Silver did very much remind me of standard BatB variations with one party almost immediately falling for the other while the other takes much more time.  Third, and most depressingly, it does have an equivalent to Disney's torch-bearing mob led by Gaston.  This one, however, is far less dramatic and by that token infinitely more chilling.  (Meaning it took me 2 hours to read the last 30 pages cause I had to keep putting it down to breathe.)

Illustrations: Just the rather intriguing cover.

Interesting changes: The futuristic setting, the robotics, and a very active supporting cast.  The whole Beauty and the Beast holed up alone in a castle, never seeing anyone else, isn't here at all.  Jane's friends and mother are a near-constant presence either physically or as a lurking threat.  And this has the most awesome transformation IMO.  Truthfully, there are several transformations but the one at the end... Gave me shivers.  In a good way. 

I read that I would likely cry during this book.  I didn't (just paced, ran, and failed to sleep a lot) and wondered if there was something wrong with me.  And then there was the last chapter... and I sobbed.  And was very glad I bought Kleenex the day before last. 
ETA: Started sobbing much earlier this time.  My dog was concerned.  However, I would randomly put the book down through out the entire rereading because I knew what was coming and wasn't quite ready to get there.

Beast's appearance: I spose that would be Silver who is, well, silver with reddish hair and very attractive.  But I'm wont to think the robot corporation is the true Beast.  ETA: Or stupid, horrible Egyptia is.  Or those horrid twins.  Or selfish Demeta... or that idiot Swohnson.  Or... clearly I should cut back on the caffeine. 

*If you're like me and sometimes put off by teenage characters, you can probably fear not.  If not for characters occasionally bringing up ages, I would have never imagined these people as teenagers.  In this futuristic world, high school seems non-existent and teenagers can live on their own without raising eye brows.  So as a twentysomething, I saw them as peers given I'm just now out on my own.

Belle by Cameron Dokey
(Added 4-7-09)

Synopsis: The Delauriers live a charmed life in the city but all that falls apart when the father's ships are lost at sea.  The family moves into the country.  On the way there, their surrogate grandfather tells the tale of the Heartwood Tree.  Belle is enchanted by the tale and wants to learn its secret.  The same secret that will free the Beast who dwells near it.  In other words, it's pretty much the standard story but with a tree in place of a rose.

Location: Based on the names: France.  Although I don't remember if it's clearly stated.

"Magicalness": The usual.  An enchanted Beast who lives in a castle with food that magically appears, doors that open, etc.  The Heartwood Tree is the most novel magical thing in this variation. 

Romance: Yeah but it's not really deep enough for my tastes.  This book is only 204 pages and the Beast and Belle don't meet until page 143.  We then have a mere 4 chapters before Belle returns to her family.  I wanted to buy this relationship but it seemed far, far too rushed and I ended up feeling like this was a couple who was together because they just really wanted to be in love and it may not have mattered with who...  I'm not a fan of predestined romances.  I want the couple to fall for each other because their own hearts, minds, and spirits can't do anything else. 

Illustrations: None.

Interesting changes: I really liked the myth of the Heartwood Tree and the tragic couple that gave it birth.  A lot could have been done with it.  I kept thinking that Belle would carve the branch and reveal the Beast as he was pre-enchantment.  Thus showing that she could see the real him, because she loved him.  But unless I missed it the branch never does get carved.  I felt like the author was setting up Belle's carving abilities for a reason but it never comes to anything.

I did like the explanation for why the Beast was transformed.  He killed Bambi's mom!  Okay, so it wasn't Bambi but close enough.

Beast's appearance: Tall and wolf-like with copper fur.

Beastly by Alex Flinn
(Added 1-12-10)

Synopsis: Kyle Kingsbury is the most gorgeous guy in his prep school... and also the jerkiest.  So a witch, Kendra, decides to teach him a lesson.  When he invites her to Homecoming only to humiliate her, she gets her revenge by turning the pretty boy into a beast.  Kyle's newscaster father is horrified and after dragging him from specialist to voodoo practitioner, he dumps Kyle in a huge house with a blind tutor and their maid.  As a condition of the spell, Kyle must fall in love with a girl and gain her love in turn within two years time.  Enter Lindy.  Lindy is a poor classmate of Kyle's whose druggie dad gives her to Kyle in exchange for his freedom after Kyle catches him burglarizing his greenhouse.  And then... you'll have to read the book.

Location: New York City. 

"Magicalness": Kyle is definitely under a spell and Kendra makes recurring appearances.  There's also a magic mirror that can show anyone Kyle wishes to see... including, apparently, the President in his bathroom.  You also get glimpses of the Little Mermaid, Rose Red, Snow White, their bear, and the Frog Prince.

Romance: Yes.  I really did start to buy the relationship between Lindy and Adrian (nee Kyle).  There's a scene when they're on the fifth floor reading about the couple that used to live there that's quite romantic.  And their sojourn into the country is very sweet.  I like that they begin to establish a sense of family together despite their cruddy families of origin.  That being said...  I'm feeling my age.  It's hard for me to get too wrapped up in teen love affairs.  Really I only read this cause Neil Patrick Harris is going to be in the movie and he is legend...wait for it...dary.  Although I did like it more than I thought I would.

Illustrations: None.

Interesting changes: The use of technology (chat transcripts pop up randomly) was interesting.  However, it also made me think how dated this book will soon seem.  And some of the chat lingo was driving me batty.  I realize many HS students type like that but I was just plain dishearted to learn a smart girl like Lindy would actually use "2" as a preposition.  And I get Kyle using it but Adrian comments on his prettified speech and still uses that crud!  I can cope with "lol" and the like but it was just too much. 

The development of Kyle's past is probly more extensive than most any I've read for a Beast.  I did feel sorry for him with his "Cats in the Cradle" childhood.  Lindy, too, with her horrid father. 

Simply having different locales was interesting.  Adrian has his "castle" but there's also his vacation home which was a nice change.  And in a couple scenes he actually wanders the street.  One subway scene made me wonder if the author watched CBS' TV show.  But Vincent remains way cooler than Adrian.  But then... Vincent was nearer my age.  Gah.  That makes me feel old.

There's a very nice parallel to Jane Eyre.  Really it goes into Lindy's bookishness and Adrian's growing intellect more than most BatB takes. 

Beast's appearance: As the author writes: "Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright-- a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore."

Whispers in the Woods by Helen R. Meyers
(Added 5-14-10)

Synopsis: Paloma St. John is an orphan left in the care of her father's scientific partner.  Unfortunately for Paloma, he's a psychotic scientist bent on creating a disease-resistant super human.  While a young girl, she stumbles upon his lab where he's doing viscious experiments on primates.  Years later she's able to escape with the survivors and settles with her two chimps and wise old orangutan in a cottage in Maine.  Due to her telepathic abilities, she's able to pick up on frightening communication from a being in the woods who wants her to leave.  However, she's drawn to this entity and, well, you know the general gist of what happens next.  They meet, they fall in love, and it's all threatened when they both must face a common enemy.

Location: Maine

"Magicalness": Paloma is a telepath able to communicate with the primates in her care.  But her abilities are especially strong with Dunndrogo aka the Beast.  They're able to carry on entire conversations via telepathy from some distance.  In addition, they can enter each others' thoughts and due to his reluctance to risk harming her by consummating the relationship, the physical aspect of their relationship mostly unfolds in their dreams.

Romance: Of course.  This is a romance novel.  I did find the couple intriguing although the development of their relationship seemed rushed to me.  However, not being a romance novel fan there were times I wanted to scream "Ah!  TMI!!!" but that's just me.  I thought the book was at it's best when they were talking about how much they loved each other instead of giving a play-by-play.  Dunndrogo reminded me a lot of Vincent from the TV show with his worries about hurting Paloma, losing control of himself, etc.  I would be absolutely shocked if I ever discovered the author hadn't seen the show.

I have to applaud this author for doing something I always wanted Catherine on the TV show to do.  Paloma gets really angry and shoots back at him when Dunndrogo suggests she could be happier with a normal life with a normal man... and he even has a particular man in mind.  Vincent tended to bring those sorts of points up and I always wanted Catherine to just snap and start screaming "All this time and you honestly think I'm so shallow I'd pick some rich Ken doll over true love?  Or is it that you just don't care about me enough to not wish me the hell that is a loveless marriage?  Or maybe you just don't think my emotions run very deep?  Which is it?!?"  At least Paloma gets a briefer statement of that type.

Illustrations: None.

Interesting changes: Dunndrogo's mother has a pretty prominent role and I can't recall too many BatB stories in which his parents were very involved.  So that was really interesting.  And gone is the benevolent father of Beauty.  Her "uncle" is a horrible, deranged person.

There's an entire moral aspect with animal experimentation.  Nobel cause but at times it was almost too much for me and I thought I might have to stop reading or else have nightmares. 

And, again, the telepathy.  Even though several versions of BatB feature special communication between the leads, I think this is the most obvious about it.  Unfortunately, at times it became difficult for me to tell who was "talking."

The rival to the "beast" is far from a Gaston-type.  He's actually quite nice and helps Paloma to keep herself and her animals safe.  But at times he seems written to serve a purpose and not so much as an actual character.

Paloma has some shock when she first sees Dunndrogo.  But she jumps to love very, very quickly as opposed to the usual delayed, death bed confession of love. 

His name.  Maybe it's just me but I woulda done something a lil less exotic than Dunndrogo.  Any time I put it down, I found myself losing track of the name.  Dunndrago?  Dundroo-something? 

Dunndrogo is the result of a human pregnancy interrupted by the administration of some sort of chemical or something.  So he's a creation of science, not a witch with a vendetta.

Beast's appearance: She never really described his features with much detail.  All I gathered was that he was covered in black hairs, extremely large, and had blue eyes.  At some point reference is made to him looking like a mix of 3 different species but I don't think any is ever expressed.  I would assume primates.

Picture Books
Cupid and Psyche as told by M. Charlotte Craft

Synopsis: This is a Greco-Roman legend. This particular version is a picture book and some aspects of the original legend have been altered, presumably to make the story more kid-friendly. The main details are the same: The mortal Psyche is beautiful, Venus gets jealous, and Venus asks her son Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a horrible creature. Cupid is struck by Psyche's beauty and accidentally nicks himself with his own arrow and falls in love. So they have this hidden romance, the only condition is Psyche can never see her husband. Naturally curiosity (and her sisters) get the better of her and she peeks. Cupid flies away and Psyche spends the rest of the story fulfilling difficult tasks, seeking reunion.

Location: Delphi, Hades, Olympus, and the like.

"Magicalness": More mythology than magic. Gods and goddesses abound.

Romance: Yep, and some regard this couple as the forerunners of every Beauty and Beast after them.

Illustrations: Gorgeous. Lots of pretty, flowery scenery and beautiful costumes.

Interesting changes: Other versions of this story have Psyche getting pregnant before she actually sees Cupid. This doesn't happen in this version.

Beast's appearance: A winged guy with really blond, really curly hair.
The Dragon Prince by Laurence Yep

Synopsis: Seven is the youngest daughter of a poor farmer. She saves a snake from being killed by her cruel older sister. Later, that snake returns in the form of a dragon and demands that Seven's father give him one of his daughter's for a wife or die. All refuse, until finally the question is put to Seven who agrees to marry the dragon. Life is not so bad as she might have feared, until one of her sisters interferes and Seven is separated from her Prince.

Location: China.

"Magicalness": Naturally, the Beast takes on three different shapes and Seven is magically transported from her home to the Beast's and vice versa.

Romance: Yes, definitely. The passages which deal with the separation of Seven and the Prince are very moving.

Illustrations: Amazing. Very bright colors and some of the pictures look almost real enough to be photos.

Interesting changes: The Beast chooses to transform himself into a dragon to look for a wife. There is no unfortunate enchantment. Also, Seven sees the Prince's true form almost immediately after entering his home.

Beast's appearance: He changes from a little snake, a great, brilliantly colored dragon, and a man.
Beauty and the Beast retold by Marianna Mayer

Synopsis: This is basically a retelling of the most common form of the story, but fleshed out a bit for added length. Many versions remove the scenes concerning Beauty seeing the Beast's true form. This version leaves those scenes intact.

Location: Unknown, typical fairy tale landscape.

"Magicalness": For certain. Beauty's dreams are made much of. There's a mysterious old woman. The characters in the stories the Beast tells come to life and appear.

Romance: This is really very interesting. It's a sort of faux love triangle with the Beast and the Prince both in love with Beauty but Beauty only loving the Prince. Of course, she eventually learns they are one and the same.

Illustrations: Fantastic paintings by Mercer Mayer. I loved his books as a kid and looking at this I know why. They are so intricate and colorful! The writing is great but even if it weren't the illustrations alone would be enough.

Interesting changes: Pretty much the general story. I do think the dream sequences are treated with bit more depth than others, though that could just be my perception.

Beast's appearance: Not as easily categorized as in some versions. Catlike I think.

Beauty and the Beast retold by Carol Heyer

Synopsis: This is a pretty basic retelling of the most popular version of the story. Beauty's family must move to the country, Beauty's father meets Beast, Beauty goes to the Beast, Beauty returns home for visit, evil sisters interfere and keep Beauty from returning to Beast, etc.

Location: Not sure, doesn't say.

"Magicalness": There's a flying horse, a magic ring, a wicked witch, and a magic mirror.

Romance: As with many versions, Beauty's love for the Beast surfaces as he lays dying.

Illustrations: Really pretty unique. I especially liked the clothing depicted. Very colorful. The people have a very ethereal look to them. The author also illustrates her book.

Interesting changes: Not much really. I do think some of the magic elements may be different.

Beast's appearance: A cross between a lion and a tiger. Post-transformation he looks like Legolas' prettier twin. :-)

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe

Synopsis: Mufaro has two daughters, Manyara who is cruel and Nyasha who is kind. Nyasha is dutiful and tend to her chores, especially the garden where she befriends a small snake. The Great King announces plans to marry and desires to meet the eligible daughters of his kingdom. Desiring to be queen, Manyara sneaks away and hastens to the King, being cruel to those who stand in her way. Nyasha then follows but, unlike her sister, is kind to those who she runs into. When the two sisters finally meet with the King they are both in for surprises.

Location: Africa.

"Magicalness": The Great King can shapeshift at will.

Romance: Yes, a rather intelligent brand at that. The King gives much thought to choosing a wife and Nyasha does not just fall into his path by coincidence as with the more typical BatB stories.

Illustrations: Very beautiful, the reason my friends and I loved this story as children. The illustrations of the characters are very good but the landscape is most impressive.

Interesting changes: A lot of people probably would not even consider this a BatB story, but I see definite parallels so I listed it here. The King is not enchanted and Nyasha is not forced to stay with him. There is great importance placed on good works.

Beast's appearance: He changes from snake to little boy to old woman to handsome King, as he likes!


Short Stories
Beauties and Beasts: The Oryx Multicultural Folktale Series
by Betsy Hearne
(Added 8-20-05)

Synopsis: This is a collection of 20+ variations form the tale from all different areas of the world and cultures.  Since it's so jam-packed, I gave this book it's own page.  You can visit it here:
"Beauties and Beasts" by Betsy Hearne

"The Courtship of Mr. Lyon" by Angela Carter
from the book The Bloody Chamber

Synopsis: Beauty's father sets out to restore his fortune but his car dies in the middle of a storm. He seeks help in a nearby house where he finds a white rose he hopes to bring back to Beauty. Naturally, this angers the Beast who, upon seeing Beauty's photograph, releases the man after demanding Beauty be brought to have dinner with him. The two return where the Beast makes an announcement, he will help her father regain his fortune and... perhaps it would be best if Beauty remained with him for the time being.

Location: The Beast seems to be somewhere in or around England, Beauty and her Father live in London. It is also sometime in the modern era due to the presence of telephones and cars.

"Magicalness": Invisible servants and a dog that seems too human though, I suppose even nonmagical dogs can be like that. I have one. :-)

Romance: Yes. The Beast's devotion becomes clear quite soon. Beauty's own feeling are dealt with a bit later, after she leaves the Beast's home.

Illustrations: No.

Interesting changes: Special attention is given to the period after which Beauty leaves the Beast but before she returns to find him dying. This was especially interesting and shows how Beauty is not so beautiful and good without the Beast.

Beast's appearance: A lion with human attributes.
"The Tiger's Bride" by Angela Carter
from the book The Bloody Chamber

Synopsis: The first line is "My father lost me to The Beast at cards." That pretty much sets the stage for this very strange version. Beauty is then taken away from her father and brought to the Beast's palazzo where he makes a most bizarre request of her.

Location: Italy, it seems.

"Magicalness": Something's definitely going on. Also, there's a robot who tends to Beauty, though I suppose that's more technology than magic.

Romance: Ummm... sure. Perhaps just not my version of it.

Illustrations: No.

Interesting changes: I felt totally outside my element reading this so I could just be confused here, but I think Beauty turned into a beast at the end. Her father being not-nice also seems new. I'm glad I didn't find this version until I was 20, I really wouldn't have understood much of anything before that.

Beast's appearance: A tiger, but he wears a wig and mask in public to appear human.
"The Rose Garden" by Michelle West
from the book Little Red Riding Hood in the Big Bad City

Synopsis: The Beast is cursed with immortality and after hundreds of years finds his woodland sanctuary destroyed forcing him to move into the suburbs.  His only love in the city is his magnificent rose garden.  When a teenage girl enters his yard and plucks one of his prize roses, their lives change forever.

Location: A big bad city.  :-)  If it was ever specifically stated, I don't recall.

"Magicalness": Yep.  This story assumed the reality of things like immortals and witches' curses.

Romance: No but a very different type of love.

Illustrations: No.

Interesting changes: Okay, gotta say when I was reading this and first figured out that Cassie, child prostitute, was our Beauty I thought "Oh my God... this is going to be a sick and twisted 'Pretty Woman' isn't it?"  Not at all.  Turns out Cassie entered the Beast's garden to get a rose from her dying only friend, Trina.  Something in Cassie's story makes the Beast want to meet this Trina.  The rest of the story revolves around them tending to Trina and "Beauty" and the Beast coming to love each other.  Not as lovers but father and daughter.  I thought it was a really beautiful story about forgiveness, grief, and family.  I thought it was an interesting twist to have not romantic love humanize the Beast but instead fatherly love.

Beast's appearance: The author tells that over the course of his very long life, The Beast changes from someone of beastly appearance to that of a normal enough, if bulky, man.  More emphasis is placed on his personality transition.  He's utterly detestable at the start but by the last page he's a very different man.
"Beauty and the Beast" by Anne Thackeray Ritchie
from the book Forbidden Journeys: Fairy Tales and Fantasies by Victorian Women Writers

(Added 6-21-09)

Synopsis: Barly has three daughters.  When his stocks plummet, the family's forced to move to the country.  The youngest, Belinda called Belle, tries to make the best of it.  When Mr. Barly wrongs Guy Griffiths, Guy says that the debt can be paid off by having Belinda (whom he's been crushing on for some time) come tend his mother.  She does and Guy falls more deeply in love with her.  But then she's called back home when her father becomes ill.  Enter conniving sister and all the rest!

Location: London and the surrounding countryside.

"Magicalness": Not really.  I think the gist of the original collection this was taken from is how real life can sometimes mimic fairy tales.  Although it does start with a nice bit about how maybe fairies are still active but we just take their work for granted since it's always been with us.

Romance: On his side: constant.  The passages describing Guy's feelings for Belle are very sweet.  As for Belle's, it's the usual slowly-building love.

Illustrations: No, at least not in this anthology.

Interesting changes: Well, it definitely seemed timely despite being set in the Victorian era!  Stocks crashing!  Downsizing!  Money schemes!  But I liked the idea of the "Beast" actually have been smitten with "Beauty" for some time.  Granted, using her father's misfortune as means of gaining access to her is a lil questionable.  But his mother really did need help and he's such a socially awkward and enamored but well-meaning type that I found myself liking him.  Sorta a Mr. Darcy type.

The mother and a neighbor-as-narrator both seemed novel to me also.

Beast's appearance: A shaggy-haired lawyer with a fairly big build and horrid self-esteem.  :-)
"The Brown Bull of Norrowa" by Maria Louise Molesworth
from the book Forbidden Journeys: Fairy Tales and Fantasies by Victorian Women Writers

(Added 7-5-09)

Synopsis: The safety of a kingdom is threated by a great brown bull wrecking havoc on the land.  He will only stop if the princess is given to him.  The king and queen, however, are determined not to let their daughter go with the beast so they send dopplegangers and keep the truth from the Princess.  The bull rejects them.  When the Princess at last learns of the situation, she decides to go with the bull.  As it turns out, he's a Prince and allowed to take his true form for three hours a day.  If she'll stay with him for three years, he'll be free.  Unfortunately, in a moment of desperation, the Princess wishes for his bull skin to be smoted and so he is taken away from her.  She then needs to endure many trials before a reunion is possible.

Location: Norway for the Prince's home.  I'm not sure about the other locations.

"Magicalness": The place where the Prince and Princess stay is full of magic.  The Princess need only wish for something and she gets it.  Of course, there's also the enchantment that requires the Prince wander about as a bull and behave rudely for 21 hours each day.  Also, the Princess is given three magical golden balls by a fairy at her birth and those and other magical tokens figure in a lot.

Romance: Yep but in typical non-psychological fairy tale style.  The Prince and Princess become very close in their three hours a day but it's not really very well fleshed out.

Illustrations: There is one black and white drawing of the Princess and the bull in this version.

Interesting changes: This is definitely mostly "East of the Sun, West of the Moon."  Although having read versions of that, I don't recall the magical balls.  Those brought "The Frog Prince" to mind.  Also, there's a footnote that informs me that in other versions the Prince is not shot and that this element was a nod to the author's husband who was wounded.  I'm not sure if that really is a big change or not as I've not read too many "East" versions.

Beast's appearance: A big brown bull... as one would guess from the title.


Faerie Tale Theatre's "Beauty and the Beast"

Synopsis: Starring Susan Sarandon and Klaus Kinski.  1984.  A merchant with three daughters, one nice and  the others bratty, steals a rose from the garden of a Beast.  The Beast orders his death or that one of his daughters come to him.  Beauty runs off in spite of her father's protests.  Drama and romance ensues.  Really I hope you know the story by now.  :-)

Location: Take your pick I suppose.

"Magicalness": Yep.  The magic ring makes an appearance in this one as well as the well-known mirror.  Also, plenty of disembodied arms bearing light fixtures.  Also the Beast's explanation for his beastliness at the very end speaks to the importance of fantasy in this version and the entire series.

Romance: Yes.  The Beast repeatedly asks for Beauty's hand and she declines.  Then she finds him dying and discovers she does love him.  Upon her declaration he turns into a prince (natch) but this leaves Beauty, understandably I think, feeling nostalgic.

Production values: It feels like you're watching a play which I love.  Cool costumes.  But the DVD has no added features.

Interesting changes: The Beast's smoking hands taken from Cocteau's 1946 version.  Also this one makes a lot more of the selfish sisters than other versions I recall.

Beast's appearance: Wolfish with a mane, blonde, sparkly clothes and a German accent.

Hallmark's "Beauty and the Beast"
(Added 2-29-08)

Synopsis: Starring George C. Scott and Trish Van Devere.  1976.  The usual story of a poor man who runs into trouble when he tries to take a rose for his daughter.  The Beast demands he return or send a daughter in his stead and really I'm sure you know what happens. 

Location: England?  There didn't seem to be one common accent.

"Magicalness": The Beast is uber-magical.  He seems able to create just about anything and tries to help Belle find her own magic.  As far as the staples, I didn't notice a prominent mirror but there was enchanted jewelry (both the standard transportational ring and burning gems for the wicked sisters) and a blue rose. 

Romance: Natch.  And I'm so outta the loop that I just now realized the two leads were actually married.  So on and off screen romance!  Anyhow, this was one of the more realistic romances for me.  It was not just "not interested, not interested, not interested, OMG you're dying!  Now I'm interested!"  This was more like "not interested, not interested, by golly I think I'm interested but you're attacking your meal so never mind, not interested, OMG you're dying so I'm going to give a touching speech showing I'm interested."  I'm a big fan of anyone pledging to follow someone to Hell.  Really.  I'm not sure why.  And I do prefer it when Beauty's a bit hesitant post-transformation.  It is a rather big switch...

Production values: This was never professionally released but the quality of my copy was surprisingly good.  In fact, it was better than parts of the professional "Beauty and the Beast" TV show DVD releases.  I thought the sets were good.  I especially liked the outdoor gardens and such.  Nice costumes.  The music was oddly familiar which makes me wonder if it's reminiscent of a classical piece or just had that sorta nostalgic quality to it.

Interesting changes: Belle wasn't very well educated and learns much while with the Beast.  Big difference from the brainy Belle of Disney's version.  After Ron Perlman's Vincent, I think Scott's Beast is the most literary Beast I've seen.  Loved that.  Also, the Beast is a king and not a prince like in many versions I've seen/read.  Belle has a nice brother in this version. 

Beast's appearance: George C. Scott with a boar's nose and tusks and excess hair.
"Hans My Hedgehog" from
Jim Henson's The Storyteller
(Added 7-20-08)

Synopsis: Starring John Hurt as the Storyteller.  Complete cast listing here.  1988.  A woman tries everything to conceive a child but with no luck until she cries out that she wants a child so badly that she'd welcome one even "ugly as a hedgehog."  And so Hans is born.  Taunted by his father and the village folk, Hans set off on his own and takes residence in a castle.  There he feeds and gives shelter to a lost king.  In appreciation, the king promises him whatever greets him when he firsts arrives home.  The king assumes this will be his dog but instead his daughter greets him.  And so she must marry Hans.  But the story doesn't end there...

Location: The segment starts with words attributing the story to a German folk tale.  However, the people sounded English to me.  So my guess is no where in particular.

"Magicalness": Hans is enchanted although by what I don't think is ever entirely explained but that's no loss.

Romance: The episode's only 24 minutes long and so you don't actually see a whole lot of Hans and the "Princess of Sweetness and Cherry Pie" too terribly much.  But the final shots of them are very romantic and fairy tale-esque.

Production values: Awesome.  I love this series.  The Muppet creatures are still amazing to me.  (And, for the record, I don't think baby Hans was ugly.)  There was good use of silhouette.  I suppose to some it may look a lil low-budget but to me it just made it seem all the more story book-like.

Interesting changes: This wasn't strictly "Beauty and the Beast."  More like that, "Cupid and Psyche," and Jephthah's daughter from the Bible all mixed together.  Under the auspices of Jim Henson and the Creature Shop.  One interesting change for me, who seldom finds the "Prince" attractive, is that as briefly as you saw Human Hans... he looked good!  And this is one of my favorite transformations.  I'm also fond of the use of bag pipe music (that "began like hello and ended like good bye") here.

Beast's appearance: A hedgehog.  The title probably told you that, though.  ;-)


From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers
by Marina Warner

Synopsis: Wow...  I gotta give credit to anyone that can write a book that spans thousands of years of history and sociology.  This book first traces the person of the storyteller from the ancient Sibyl to the women from whom the Grimm brothers collected their tales.  In between we meet the Queen of Sheba, a variety of saints, and the beleaguered ladies of royal courts.  The second part of the book deals with specific tales with two chapters devoted to "Beauty and the Beast."

Location of focus:  I think with any psychological or sociological work it's important to know where the author is coming from.  Warner lives in London and is contemporary.  Her work in this book spans several parts of the globe and shows how familiar stories pop up all over.  But it does seem like the majority of it revolved around Europe.   I remember Germany and France seeming to be particularly well represented.  But the first part of the book deals largely with Rome and the biblical world also.

Illustrations: There are a myriad of black and white illustrations through out the chapters as well as two sections of colored plates, about 40 some in total.  They really added a lot and made the ideas the author brings up more understandable.

What the author has to say about "Beauty and the Beast":  As with most, she traced BatB from it's ancestor "Cupid and Psyche."  She hypothesizes that the attraction to this story comes from a period when women's romantic fates were decided by family, particularly the father.  Obviously, this can lead to several women unhappily wed to men they may even regard as beasts.  So the story offers a hopeful message that these unwanted mates can transform and become something wonderful and ideal.  The author supports this by looking at the lives of some BatB tellers and their own troubled marriages.  One even tried to have her husband killed!  It was all wildly interesting and made me really grateful to live now.  However, it didn't do much to enlighten why I love the story so much.  Certainly I'm not likely to end up forced into an arranged marriage.  So I found myself more interested in the second BatB chapter entitled "Go! Be a Beast".  This chapter talks more about our modern day romanticization of nature and the wild and embracing it in our own natures.   This appealed to me more.  The idea of balancing different natures: civilized and natural, male and female, etc.  I read this entire 400+ page book and it really held my attention.  There were a couple spans when I sat and read it for hours on end.  The only draw back is the author alludes to so many books and story variants and films and plays that you wish you had time and access to them all!

Main "Beauty and the Beast" Page

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