The Beauty and the Beast

I decided to read The Beauty and the Beast by Madame de Villeneuve, originally published in 1740.

I suppose my background is different than average for my age, because instead of growing up on Disney movies, I had a complete collection of fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen, and I spent a lot of time pouring over the book and rereading my favorites. They were a far bigger influence on me than any movie.

Heck, one of the reasons why I hate Disney so much is because they took these wonderful, complex stories, and turned them into shallow caricatures with a marketing scheme that led most people to believe they were the original source. Nowadays when people say “fairy tales,” they’re referring to the Disney movies, not the original texts.


Anyway, The Beauty and the Beast is one that I’ve never read before, so I figured, “Why not?” Call it research.

The initial characterization of Beauty is charming. She belonged to a large and wealthy family, but after some spectacularly bad luck, they end up losing everything — Beauty is the only one who handles the change in fortune with grace, and she is clearly intended to be just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

Then, her father travels in an attempt to regain some of his lost wealth, discovers that it was a fruitless expedition, and is caught in a nasty blizzard while returning home. He stumbles across the Beast’s enchanted palace, and consequently gets himself in trouble after picking a rose from the garden. Beauty sacrifices herself to save her father’s life, and goes to live in the Beast’s palace instead.

In my opinion, this was the weakest part of the story. The descriptions of the sheer materialistic opulence of Beauty’s life in the enchanted palace really cheapened her character. I can’t help but wonder if it’s a difference in generations, given that this was originally published in the 1700’s, but c’mon … surely there was more to life fulfillment than clothing and jewelry, even back then?

The part that I outright hated was when Beauty went back to visit her family, and the suitors of her five older sisters were all immediately smitten with her and promptly abandoned their original girlfriends. I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic towards the jilted sisters, while Beauty was reduced down to nothing more than a Mary-Sue.

Then, as we all know, Beauty breaks the curse on the Beast by professing her love for him, and he turns back into a handsome prince.

Interestingly enough, this happens only halfway through the book, despite the fact that this is where all the movie versions of the story end.

The second half was the part that I genuinely enjoyed the most, and definitely made the book worth reading. I can’t help but feel like I’ve been let in on a little secret, since even wikipedia failed to summarize the second half. Tee hee, how fun.

And by the way, the Disney version doesn’t even come close.




I will be discussing spoilers in this post. Consider yourself warned.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with video game culture, there was a series that started clear back in the 80’s called Castlevania. Many people consider the 1997 release, Symphony of the Night, to be the best game in the series (phew, exposition).


I confess that I have never played Symphony of the Night. All I know is that Alucard is the ultimate gothic pretty boy vampire character.

Anywho, the creator of Castlevania got fed up with video game companies, struck out on his own with Kickstarter, and developed Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night as a spiritual successor.

We played Bloodstained because I was in the mood for something gothic, lol. I’d rate it 4/5.

All right, now here are the spoilers: your character wakes up after a ten year long nap, and discovers that her bff is the villain. He is later revealed as being mind-controlled by a demon, and the excessively helpful blonde woman is outed as being the one who is actually evil. She summons the ultimate demon that you have to fight and kill as the final boss of the game.

And, well, I thought that the story line was the weakest part of the game. It was too obvious and predictable, but teased just enough that I kept hoping it would try something new. It didn’t.

The mind control shtick has passed its sell-by date, in my opinion. Whenever characters act like, “You used to be sooo good, but now you want to kill everyone. What’s going on?” you can bet that it’s because of MIND CONTROL.

I dunno, maybe they were abused and damaged beyond what they could handle. Maybe they realized that society is irredeemably corrupt. Maybe, just maybe, something happened that made them change their mind. Characters are allowed to evolve, and it doesn’t always have to be for the better. Even good characters can have a dark night of the soul.

And the main character… she’s allowed to change too; she doesn’t have to statically believe in black and white forever and ever. Wouldn’t it be wild if, halfway through the game, the main character has an epiphany about pursuing the wrong goals, and forms an alliance with the antagonist? No one would see it coming!

It feels like there’s a big, gaping hole in the middle of storytelling that no one acknowledges, ideas that are never explored because we’re too accustomed to stereotypes.

In this day and age where indie is becoming more and more accessible, what are we afraid of?