Fairy Tales 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
"The Pig King" has a similar parental figure in the mother of the Pig King's three wives. She is poor and has no real say in the matter. She needs the money. Even after her first two daughters are killed, the third still goes, all to protect her mother. Once again the child looks after her parent who has passed the prime of her life. There are no retirement homes. Your old, aging parents need active care and that's what this story seems to preach.
On the other side, in "The Frog King", the father is wise and still in his prime. The moral in this story is to listen to your father. The daughter does not want to take the frog in but father knows best. He insists she keeps her promise, trying to raise her right. It pays off in the end.
So in summary, take care of your parents when they get old and listen to them before they do. Any questions?
This is why I think she clings to her chastity and that idea is promoted throughout a lot of the stories. But I think this provides a dichotomy that is somewhat irreconcilable. On the one hand, she's supposed to plan for her future by preserving her chastity, the one thing she has left of her own. But on the other, she's supposed to cling to the past rather than look for a future; current family comes before possible family. I think this is why so many Beauties or Belles are torn, such as Beauty in the movie. She has Avenant and her father. For her, papa wins, but she is not without her own desires. The bigger message is recognizing there are two options, choosing to take care of your elders who have provided for you, and then doing so without being bitter.
For me, B&B stories show the horrible things that happen in the absence of the mother. Belle goes to this extreme and sacrifices her future (the possibility of a suitor) to take care of her father. This almost ends in disaster ... although that it ends up so well maybe throws off my theory?
In a way, it is difficult to think of the “Beauty and the Beast” tale strictly in terms of Freud’s Electra complex because of the lack of a maternal figure. (By the way, the Electra complex is the notion that the young girl identifies with her primary love object – her mother – and then, without ever dropping her first identification, with her father. This means that the young girl – like the young boy – is inherently bisexual (although the young boy must repudiate his mother and youthful bisexuality to become an obligatory heterosexual). However, the young girl eventually discovers that her mother is a “rival” for the affections of the father, and so she must take the mother’s place in order to complete her oedipal trajectory toward (heterosexual) union with her father.)
Though the maternal element of the Electra complex is inaccessible in the “Beauty and the Beast” tales, the paternal factor continues to exist. The power of “Papa” in all (Western) versions of the tale holds tremendous sway over the young girl’s decisions. For example, she refuses to ever leave her father because she loves him and believes he cannot live without her. However, the “Beauty and the Beast” tale forces her to make the decision to take the place of her father as the Beast’s eternal prisoner (a curious notion since the young girl never usually assumes the father’s place in the oedipal trajectory). As a result, the tale requires that she displace her father in order to forge a heterosexual union at the end of the story. This heterosexual union is the goal to which the Beast persistently aspires, and eventually it must come to fruition for the young girl’s trajectory to be a success (as it does).
Therefore, the purpose of “Papa” in the “Beauty and the Beast” tales is as “part one” of the two-step process (young girl relinquishes Papa; young girl bonds to beastly male suitor) that underlines each “Beauty and the Beast” narrative. The renunciation of Papa is required in order to permit the “arranged marriage” tale (Tatar) to be effective.
While this notion doesn't exactly make a lot of sense in today's terms of true love and happily ever afters, the payment of daughters to satisfy a debt isn't necessarily meant to be demeaning. Rather, it is meant to instill the values of self-sacrifice and virtue among the female audience in a time when marriage in the name of love was an unknown concept. If you can't be in love, you might as well narrow your search to those that you "treat you nice" and that you "respect." That's where parents come in, to bridge the gap into these forced interactions.
In another version, Straparola's The Pig King, again the parent of the Beauty character is at least ;artially responsible for her involvement with the Beast character. Granted, the pig boy becomes enamored with her and demands her marital hand from his mother as a result, the only reason the marriage occurs is because Beuaty's mother was so poor and the Queen offered her many riches.
So, a pattern seems to arise in which the misfortune of a parent, whether it be getting lost in the woods, seeking shelter in a castle and then just happening to take his most prized possession, or simply beng down on one's monetary luck, the end result is a sort of contract that results in Beauty forming a relationship with the Beast in some way. If the parents were not in the picture the stories would have to change entirely to get to the desired end. This also makes me think that the parent characters are meant as scapegoats that can be blamed for the suffering of their daughter. If Beauty brought her unfortunate situations upon herself readers would pity the character much less. However, since somebody else is to blame the Beauty character can retain all of her virtue. The parents are just a means to an end.
In Beaumont's version of the story the close relationship between father and Beauty results in her imprisonment. The father, after stealing the rose, has no intention of surrendering his daughter to the beast. However, Beauty loves her father so much that she volunteers to take his place. The relationship, therefore, was the cause of Beauty meeting her "suitor." Interestingly enough, the close relationship with her father is reemphasized to serve another purpose toward the end of the story. When Beauty realizes that her father is sick, the Beast, in an act of unselfish love, allows her to go to her father's bedside. This might be a stretch, but I think Beauty's father was the catalyst for Beauty's realization of her love for the Beast.
In contrast, in the "Pig King," the father is never present and the relationship between the protagonist and the parent is not stressed. In the "Pig King" the women play a key role in the arranged marriage between the Beast and Beauty. The mother of the Pig King is on a quest to find someone for his son to marry, even though she realizes that no well- off woman will agree to marry him. Therefore, she takes advantage of a poor woman's desperation and exploits her desire for money. The poor woman agrees to give up her daughters, even after two of them get killed. Why does she do this? Because she wants money? I dont get it. But anyway, the Pig King is ultimately satisfied with the 3rd and most beautiful daughter and reveals his true self.
In both of these stories, the parents play a crucial role in coercing their daughters into marrying a beast of a man. The parents exploit their daughter's good bigheartedness and force them into a potentiall dangerous situation with a beast of a man. Side note: while all of these stories are supposed to be about inner beauty and accepting people regardless of their looks, the beast always seems to want the prettiest daughter. Any thoughts? Is Beauty beautiful because of her beautiful inside that is translated outward?
In all of the “Beauty and Beast” tales and their related counterparts, a beautiful young girl finds herself coerced into an undesirable marriage at the urging of a parent figure. Most often, a desire for money motivates the parent to deliver their beautiful daughter into the hands of a grotesque, frightful beast. For example, Beauty’s father is on a money-driven quest to retrieve his merchandise when he stumbles unwittingly into Beast’s palace, and similarly, in “The Pig King,” a destitute peasant mother, lured by the prospect of money, freely sells off all three of her daughters to the vile swine-like Prince.
By today’s standards, this practice seems hard to believe. What decent and rational parent would willingly consign their child to an unfavorable marriage with a horrific, foul beast? Given the historical context in which these tales were fashioned, however, the arrangement would have been perfectly sound. Up until the mid-20th century, after all, marriage was a purely economical phenomenon, devoid of sentiment or feeling. The idea of marrying “for love” served no practical purpose; it was simply a blessed bonus if the partnership actually ended up generating feelings of love. For this reason, the practice of subjecting reluctant daughters to unwanted marriages was widespread. In almost all instances, the parent of the “Beauty” figure is impoverished and desperate, while the beastly character possesses vast wealth and power. To turn the arrangement down would be unthinkable. In this way, the Beauty and Beast tales are a reflection of the social environment in which they originated, an environment in which money trumped all other considerations, and love emerged as a trivial consideration.
That the “Beauty” figure initially begrudgingly enters the marriage proves crucial to the tale’s overarching theme. The “Beauty and Beast” tales, above all, speak to the idea of “inner beauty”—that what matters is not so much appearance or courtly manners, but virtue, kindness, and gentleness. The longer Beauty resides in the palace, the more Beast’s quiet, unassuming kindness begins to emerge, and she discovers a surprising gentleness lurking beneath his frightening façade. Of the Beast’s inherent goodness, Beauty remarks:
“You are very kind. I swear to you that I am completely pleased with your good heart. When I think of it, you no longer seem ugly to me.”
And later, more tellingly:
“There are certainly men more monstrous than you. I like you better, even with your looks, than men who hide false, corrupt, and ungrateful hearts behind charming manners.”
Here, Du Beaumont’s message rings clear: rather than being dazzled by such superficial qualities as charm and attractiveness, women should choose suitors on the basis of their inner qualities, seeking someone with virtue and morals. Had Beauty entered the marriage willingly, without the external prodding of a parent, swayed herself by the prospect of wealth, this crucial message would be utterly lost. What is important for the story’s trajectory is that Beauty initially finds no inherent positive good in her situation. The only thing keeping her at the castle is her selfless devotion to her father. Although Beauty initially is repulsed by the Beast’s external appearance, his bumbling animalism, soon her new suitor’s genuine goodness begins to manifest itself in small, gentle gestures, such that the Beast no longer seems so beastly. At the end of the day, Beauty recognizes how fortunate she is to have a suitor who treats her so kindly, and this idea—that all a woman needs in a partner is friendship and companionship—forms the moral core of the tale. Had she not been pushed unwillingly into her situation, this crucial burst of insight could have never taken root.
In “Beauty and the Beast”, the father is the bridge that connects Beauty to the Beast in the first place. Beauty and her father have a close relationship, which is the basis of her strong filial obligation. Beauty is unable to marry her many suitors because of this responsibility- at least until the Beast enters the picture. It is Beauty’s father who makes the fateful decision to pluck the rose that was his favorite daughter’s only request. This action binds him under the Beast’s power, and thus he is forced to comply with the Beast’s wishes or suffer the consequences. Beauty originally believes that the beast intends to kill her father, so she takes his place and saves his life by sacrificing her own. After she arrives at the castle, she soon realizes that the Beast has a kind heart and actually intends to marry her.
In “The Pig King”, the parent also connects the beauty to the beast. “The Pig King” shows the female figure, the pig’s mother, succumbing to the wishes and demands of her son. Once he is old enough to be married, the pig demands that his mother find him a bride. However, he kills his first two wives because they were apparently plotting to kill him. The pig becomes more domineering as “…he persisted in his purpose, and threatened to ruin everything in the place if he could not have her as wife” (Tatar 45). A few lines later, the pig “became more insistent than ever, and in the end began to threaten the queen’s life in violent and bloodthirsty words, unless he should have given to him the young girl [Meldina] for his wife” (Tatar 45). Even after consulting her husband (the king, who is mentioned in the story but does not hold any power over his son), the mother, who dearly loves her son despite his cruelty, continually gives in to the pig’s desires. Without the mother’s cooperation in granting all of her cruel son’s demands, this beast would never have met his beauty.