La Belle Et La Bete: Beauty And The Beast As A Retelling Of The Myth Of Cupid And Psyche

772 words - 4 pages

One of the more significant qualities of the myth is that its stories and legends have definitely transcended time. According to Classical Mythology, "Perhaps the most remarkable attribute of classical mythology is its persistence." (997) The universality of the Greek and Roman myths is perhaps best shown in how present they are in today's fairy-tales. A prime example of this is the connection between the myth of Cupid and Psyche and the old French fairy-tale of La Belle et La Bete, or Beauty and the Beast. In both myths, appearance versus reality is a central theme, and in both myths neither are as good as they may initially seem to be.Both myths start and end similarly. In the beginning, both Psyche and the Beast have very angry mother figures. While in the Cocteau version the Beast has no origin other than a vague reference to his parents in the very end, in the popular Disney version he is initially a handsome prince who is turned into a beast by an Aphrodite-like fairy a ...view middle of the document...

The Beast seems to be more involved in his romantic search since he tells Belle's father that one of his daughters may take his place. However it is merely chance that her father would pick a rose and seal her fate, not to mention that she would be so beautiful. In both cases, the heroes do not look for love, but it finds them anyways. Once they both have the objects of their affections, they lavish them with gold and riches to entice them to stay. Neither relationship is a loving, healthy relationship and neither girl is satisfied with her position. The power and riches are the only tools both Cupid and Beast have, but it is not enough. Both women temporarily leave their palaces and return to their families, who are jealous and convince Psyche and Belle that, despite what she may think, the man she lives with is a monster. Psyche was supposed to be married to a dragon so she believes that her husband is a beast, and Belle has seen for herself that she is living with a monster. However neither man are what they appear to be.Psyche genuinely believes that Cupid is a dragon and Belle knows that Beast is a monster. While they both deep down know that their men are good and kind, both must rely on their sight to know the nature of the heroes. Once the Beast's true form is revealed to Belle, she responds in disbelief and says, "I must get used to it." Psyche also has a hard time believing what she sees and lingers too long, thus spilling the wax on Cupid's shoulder. In both cases, the seemingly happy understanding that the men they love are truly beautiful causes confusion and, in Psyche's case, death. Although Psyche is redeemed to a goddess stature in the end, it is the realization of her husband's true form that causes problems. In Belle's case, her happy ending is taken away as well. Not only is she disappointed in that fact that the prince merely looks like her old boyfriend, but their ascension into the clouds is troubling to say the least. The clouds are mostly dark and ominous. The only white wisps of clouds roll into the black ones and very closely mirror that steam that came from the Beast when had killed something or was agitated. The couple dissolves into darkness and the movie ends. In neither case is the knowledge of the "beast's" true appearance, or the reality of who he is, a good thing, and in both cases this reality is a letdown.


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