Werewolf Fact of the Day

Werewolf Book 2e
ISBN: 9781578593675

What marriage tale between a beast and a human became a popular children's story?

  • Variations of the story exist all around the world.
  • It has been filmed at least seven times.
  • The first familiar version was recorded in 1756.
  • The conflict of the story starts with a rose.

Beauty and the Beast

The most famous survival of the ancient beast marriage tales that has survived in modern times is "Beauty and the Beast." Stories of a human married to an animal are popular in folklore throughout the world, and in many cultures it is the union between animal and human that produces the tribe or the clan that perpetuates the legend.

The version most familiar to contemporary audiences is that recorded by Madame Leprince de Beaumont in her Magasin des Enfans (1756). Beauty is the youngest of three daughters of a merchant who is traveling away from home in a desperate effort to reestablish his failing business. While on his journey, he is caught in a terrible storm and seeks refuge in a castle. During his stay, he is provided with all the blessings of hospitality, but he sees no one.

The next morning as he is leaving, he admires his unseen host's magnificent garden, and his thoughts turn to Beauty. Before he left home, the two oldest daughters begged for elegant gowns and expensive gifts, but all Beauty wished from her father was a rose. Surely, he imagines, no one could object to his taking just one rose from the garden.

The enraged Beast suddenly appears, prepared to slay the merchant for such a breach of etiquette. When he hears the frightened man's explanation, he agrees to let him go on the condition that one of his daughters must return to his castle. If this demand is not met, Beast will hunt him down and kill him.

Beauty volunteers, and her purity of heart allows her to overlook Beast's monstrous appearance. She is treated with the greatest of courtesy and respect by the Beast, and she stays with him until she looks in Beast's magic mirror and sees that her father is very ill. She is granted her wish that she return to visit her father for only one week. The weeks go by, and Beauty stays with her father until she has a vision in which she sees that Beast is dying. Beauty rushes back to the castle, promises to become Beast's wife, and her love dissolves a curse that had transformed a handsome young man into an ugly monster.

Many scholars have stated that in the original version of the tale, the beast was a werewolf. While there is no folklore that suggests a werewolf can be redeemed by the love of virtuous maiden, the tale could represent love and compassion as antidotes for the bestial impulses within all humans. Variations of Beauty and the Beast abound throughout the world. In certain regions of the Middle East, Beast is a boar, complete with large, curved tusks. Among some African tribes, he is a crocodile.

Beauty and the Beast has become such an integral archetypal element within the psyche that it has been filmed at least seven times, including the award-winning Walt Disney animated version. A contemporary updating of the story, transforming the Beast's castle to a subterranean world beneath New York City, became a successful television series (Beauty and the Beast, 1987-1990), starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman.

From The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings, Second Edition by Brad Steiger, (c) 2012 Visible Ink Press(R) Steiger's homage to the beast within provides meaty facts for the lycanthropic in all of us.

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