My teenage daughter and I donned our best dresses and grabbed our evening bags for a night at the theater recently. We attended Beauty and the Beast, a Broadway-style musical of the Disney movie. The orchestra, the costumes, and the singing and dancing brought this fairy tale to life. And it got me thinking…Beauty and the Beast may be a “tale as old as time” but it offers wisdom for today.
Top Five Things…a modern girl can learn from this old tale:
1. Read Books: Whether you watch Disney’s “Beauty” or read the original French fairy tale, Belle, the heroine, loves reading and libraries. “There must be more than this provincial life,’ sings Belle as she walks through town with her head in a book. And that’s what reading does, it expands your world.
2. Honor Your Father and Mother: It’s the fifth commandment, and it’s great to see it surface in a fairy tale. Both Disney’s Belle and Beauty as she is called in the French version, are devoted to the father. Indeed in the French tale, Beauty is one of three daughters and the only one willing to take his place at the Beast’s castle. Family is the foundation of society and loyalty keeps that foundation strong for generations.
3. Love at First Sight isn’t Realistic: Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty…these are fairy tales I love. But you have to wonder about an entire relationship based on one thrilling meeting. Beauty and Beast’s courtship, on the other hand, develops over time. Belle is repulsed by Beast in the beginning. Beast isn’t head over heels in love at first either in Disney’s version. Belle’s stubbornness irritates him and he’s not keen on changing his coarse ways to impress her. But during months spent together, they learn to compromise and to find comfort in each other. In the French tale, Beauty considers Beast her “best friend.” When such a pair finally come together, chances are they’ll live “happily ever after.”
4. Value Goodness over Appearances: Gaston, the handsome suitor that aims to have Belle at any cost is not part of the original French tale. But I like this Disney addition. For one thing, he provides humor and drama. For another, his empty bravado and self-love is such a foil to Beast. When Belle pleads to visit her father later in the story, Beast allows it. Even though she promises to return, he knows she might not and the spell keeping him in animal form will never be broken. But he puts her needs above his own. There’s a mate any girl would be blessed to have.
5. Keep Your Promises: We know Belle does return, the spell is broken and Beast is returned to human form. Belle marries the good-hearted prince and becomes royalty herself…all because she kept her word.
BONUS BIT: To see a slide show of our theater outing, click on this image:
QUESTION: What’s your favorite fairy tale and why?