Thursday, April 10, 2008

Walter Crane's Beauty and the Beast

Generally speaking, I adore Walter Crane's illustrations. They are so imaginative and I know many people have grown up with his drawings of tales from classic children's' literature. I have to say that when it comes to his drawings of Beauty and the Beast, I think I just might have to say I prefer Disney.

Something about the boar's head on the Beast is just a little too disturbing. I suppose it reinforces the idea that the beauty falls in love with the beast despite his ugliness. Now that I'm a little older, I have to say I find the story exceptionally unfair. For one thing, what guy would fall in love with a girl who had the head of an animal? And what story would commend him for it? Let's face it, in fairy tales, women are put through very different tests than men, constantly proving their "worth" by what they'll put up with.

One of my all time favourite fairy tales is the Princess and the Pea--now there's a girl I can identify with! Except now that I think about it, even she is forced to spend a miserable night tossing and turning on a lumpy mattress. At least she doesn't have to endure being starved, beaten, bewitched, or married against her will, like many of the other fairy tale heroines.

Don't get me wrong--I adore unvarnished fairy tales. But it always amuses me when I really start thinking about the deeper messages in the stories.


K Spoering said...

As I've read fairy tales to my children, and now grandchildren over the years, I am increasingly appalled by them! I always have to edit as I read. The princess and the pea is my favorite, too. Being an overly sensitive person, I identify with her, I think. Rather than Disney, though, I prefer the old TV show version of Beauty and the Beast. Did you ever see it? Very romantic!

Princess Skye said...

Perhaps you might like to read Tattercoats or Donkeyskin, there are fairy tales where men are required to see past appearances as well, though they are by no means morally perfect tales.

M.KATE said...

what an amusing to love a boar headed beast, but guess that's fairy tale, had to be a little melodramatic, happy weekend :)

Anonymous said...

I hate the way fairy tales get sanitized and "whitewashed" because we now imagine that they're somehow hurting our kids. The magnificent thing about tales like Beauty and the Beast (and others) is that they actually present the reality of Life - both dark and light - in a symbolic way that kids can understand.
Sanitizing them or editing them (so the adults can feel more comfortable!) does the kids a great disservice . Life is much vaster than out political or social agendas of the moment. Fairy tales, myths, and folklore remind us of the richness, depth, and complexity of the the human experience - and children need to feel connected to that. We all do.

Christine said...

Oh, I like Beauty and the beast. It is such a romantic fairytale with all the lovely fairy-tale trappings and beautiful teaching - appearance should not be used to dehumanize other person. Delightful!