Beauty and the Beast: From Classic to Modern

Beauty and the Beast is a magical story of roses and unconditional love. Though there are many versions of this classic tale, all of these stories have the same idea. In this essay, I will compare two Beauty and the Beast stories; One by the famous Grimm Brothers, and the second version, Beastly, by modern author Alex Flinn.

The two versions have many similarities despite the fact that they were written more than a hundred years apart. Both stories follow the same basic format; a man is turned into an ugly beast by a witch, and the spell will only be broken if a girl falls in love with the beast. A father gives his daughter over to the beast in exchange for his own life when he harms the beast’s roses. This daughter at first despises the beast, and is terrified of him. Gradually, though, the girl comes to love the beast.

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Then the girl’s father becomes gravely ill, and the beast allows the girl to leave so that she may help her father. At some point, the beast is about to die, but the girl’s love heals him and breaks the spell, making the beast a man once again. However, there are several important differences between the stories. The most apparent differences are timing and location. The Grimm Brothers version is probably based in Europe somewhere, at a time at least several hundred years ago, while Beastly is based in today’s New York.

These differences cause there to be changes in the story. In the brother’s version, the ideas of chivalry and bravery ring true as with the knights that lived a century before. Whereas in Flinn’s version, the troubles of modern teens are clearly shown; relationships, parents, high-school, and all the ugliness in the world. In the older story, Beauty and the Beast are adults, while they are teens in Beastly. This is important because when the characters are teens they are more emotional and confused about the world. They are also more unsure of themselves and others, and these things impact how the book is written.

The spell is broken by true love’s kiss in Beastly, while mere love is the key in the Grimm version. This is an important difference because to get someone to kiss the Beast is much harder for him to do than to have someone fall in love with him. The final important difference is the fact that Beastly is told from the beast’s point of view, while the other story is told from an omniscient view. This difference is important because most readers are naturally biased (in a positive way) towards the narrator of a first-person story. This gives the reader a look into how the Beast feels, whereas most Beauty and the Beast stories are told from the Beauty’s point of view, or an omniscient point of view, like the Grimm Brothers’ version.

The omniscient point of view lets the reader view the story as an outsider, and lets us know things that the characters do not. The story written by the famous brothers consists of the Beauty and the Beast story in its purest form, whereas Flinn puts an exciting, modern twist on the old tale. This delightful story has been retold many times, each version with its own unique style, while still expressing the same idea. I have shown you some similarities and differences between only two versions. I highly suggest these works and any other Beauty and the Beast story.

After all it is “a tale as old as time”, right?