Beauty and the Beast

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Beauty and the Beast
Beauty releases the prince from his beastly curse. Artwork from Europa's Fairy Book, by John Batten
Folk tale
NameBeauty and the Beast
Also known asDie Schöne und das Biest
Aarne–Thompson groupingATU 425C (Beauty and the Beast)
Published inLa jeune américaine, et les contes marins (1740), by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve; Magasin des enfants (1756), by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
RelatedCupid and Psyche (ATU 425B)
East of the Sun and West of the Moon (ATU 425A)

"Beauty and the Beast" (French: La Belle et la Bête) is a fairy tale written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and published in 1740 in La Jeune Américaine et les contes marins (The Young American and Marine Tales).[1][2] Her lengthy version was abridged, rewritten, and published by French novelist Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont in 1756 in Magasin des enfants[3] (Children's Collection) to produce the version most commonly retold.[4] Later, Andrew Lang retold the story in Blue Fairy Book, a part of the Fairy Book series, in 1889.[5] The fairy tale was influenced by the story of Petrus Gonsalvus[6] as well as Ancient Greek stories such as "Cupid and Psyche" from The Golden Ass, written by Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis in the second century AD, and "The Pig King", an Italian fairytale published by Giovanni Francesco Straparola in The Facetious Nights of Straparola around 1550.[7]

Variants of the tale are known across Europe.[8] In France, for example, Zémire and Azor is an operatic version of the story, written by Jean-François Marmontel and composed by André Grétry in 1771, which had enormous success into the 19th century.[9] Zémire and Azor is based on the second version of the tale. Amour pour amour (Love for Love) by Pierre-Claude Nivelle de La Chaussée is a 1742 play based on de Villeneuve's version. According to researchers at universities in Durham and Lisbon, the story originated about 4,000 years ago.[10][11][12]


Villeneuve's version[edit]

A widowed merchant lives in a mansion in a city with his twelve children (six sons and six daughters). All his daughters are very beautiful, but the youngest daughter, Beauty, is the most gorgeous among all of them. Beauty is the loveliest, as well as kind, well-read, and pure of heart; while her elder sisters, in contrast, are cruel, selfish, vain, spoiled and jealous of Beauty.

The merchant and his children become poor when their house burns down and his ships get lost in a storm at sea and robbed by pirates. He and his children are forced to live in a small cottage in the countryside and work for a living. While Beauty makes a firm resolution to adjust to rural life with a cheerful disposition, her sisters do not and mistake her determination for stupidity.

Two years later, the merchant hears that one of the trade ships he had sent has arrived back in port, having escaped the destruction of her companions. Before leaving, he asks his children if they wish for him to bring any gifts back for them. His oldest daughters ask for clothing, jewels, and the finest dresses possible as they think that his wealth has returned. Beauty asks for nothing but her father to be safe, but when he insists on buying her a present, she is satisfied with the promise of a rose, as none grow in their part of the country. The merchant, to his dismay, finds that his ship's cargo has been seized to pay his debts, leaving him penniless and unable to buy his children's presents.

During his return, the merchant becomes lost during a vicious storm. Seeking shelter, he comes upon a castle surrounded by lifelike statues. Seeing that no one is home, the merchant sneaks in and finds tables inside laden with food and drink, which seem to have been left for him by the castle's invisible owner. The merchant accepts this gift and spends the night there. The next morning, the merchant has come to view the palace as his own possession and is about to leave to fetch his children when he sees a rose garden and recalls that Beauty had desired a rose. The merchant quickly plucks the loveliest rose he can find, and is about to pluck more to create a bouquet only to end up being confronted by a hideous "Beast" who tries to kill him for stealing of his most precious possession even after accepting his hospitality. The merchant begs to be set free, revealing that he had only picked the rose as a gift for his youngest daughter. The Beast agrees to let him give the rose to Beauty, but only if the merchant brings one of his daughters to take his place without deception; he makes it clear that she must agree to take his place while under no illusions about her predicament.

The merchant is upset, but accepts this condition for the sake of his own life, as he has no choice. The Beast sends him on his way with wealth, jewels, and fine clothes for his sons and daughters, and stresses that he must not lie to his daughters. The merchant, upon arriving home, hands Beauty the rose she requested and informs her that it had a terrible price, before relaying what had happened during his absence. Her brothers say that they will go to the castle and fight the Beast, while his older daughters refuse to leave and place blame on Beauty, urging her to right her own wrong. The merchant dissuades them, forbidding his children from ever going near the Beast. Beauty willingly decides to go to the Beast's castle, moving her father who remembers a Romani fortune teller's prophecy about his youngest daughter making his household lucky. The following morning, Beauty and her father set out atop two magical horses that the Beast has provided them.

Once they arrive, the Beast receives her with great ceremony and her arrival is greeted with fireworks entwining their initials. After that, the merchant is sent home with a reward the following morning. The Beast gives Beauty lavish clothing and food and carries on lengthy conversations with her and she notes that he is inclined to stupidity rather than savagery.

Every night, the Beast asks Beauty to marry him, only to be refused each time. After each refusal, Beauty dreams of a handsome Prince with whom she begins to fall in love. Despite the apparition of a Fairy urging her not to be deceived by appearances, she does not make the connection between the Prince and the Beast and becomes convinced that the Beast is holding him captive somewhere in the castle. She searches and discovers many enchanted rooms containing sources of entertainment ranging from libraries to aviaries to enchanted windows allowing her to attend the theatre. She also comes across songbirds, parrots, and monkeys, which act as servants, but never the unknown Prince from her dreams.

For several months, Beauty lives a life of luxury at the Beast's castle, having every whim catered to, with no end of riches to amuse her and an endless supply of exquisite finery to wear. Eventually, she becomes homesick and begs the Beast to allow her to go see her family again. He allows it on the condition that she returns exactly two months later. Beauty agrees to this and is presented with an enchanted ring, which allows her to wake up in her family's new home in an instant when turned three times around her finger. Her older sisters are surprised to find her well-fed and dressed in finery, and their old jealousy quickly flares when their suitors' gazes turn to Beauty, even though she bestows lavish gifts on them and informs the men that she is only there to witness her sisters' weddings. Her father hints that if Beauty is going to her sisters' wedding, he makes it clear that she must marry the Beast as well. However, Beauty rejects her father, and her brothers do all they can to prevent her from going back to his castle, and she reluctantly agrees to stay longer.

Illustration by Warwick Goble.

When the two months have passed, she envisions the Beast dying alone on the castle grounds and hastens to return despite her brothers' resolve to prevent her from doing so. Once she is back in the castle, Beauty's fears are confirmed, and she finds the Beast near death in a cave on the grounds. Seeing this, Beauty is distraught, realizing that she loves him. Despite this, she remains calm and fetches water from a nearby spring, which she uses to resuscitate him. That night, she agrees to marry him. When she wakes up next to him, she finds that the Beast has transformed into the Prince from her dreams. This is followed by the arrival of the Fairy who had previously advised her in her dreams, along with a woman she does not recognize, in a golden carriage pulled by white stags. The woman turns out to be the Prince's mother the Queen whose joy quickly falters when she finds out that Beauty is not of noble birth. The Fairy chastises the Queen and eventually reveals that Beauty is actually a Princess and their niece, her true father being the Queen's brother the King of the Fortunate Island, and her mother being the Fairy's sister.

When the matter of Beauty's background is resolved, she requests that the Prince tell his tale, and so he does. The Prince informs her that his father, the King, died before the Prince was born and his mother had to fight an enemy to defend the kingdom. The Queen left the Prince in the care of his Evil Fairy Godmother, who tried to seduce him when he became an adult and helped his mother win the war. When the war ended, the Evil Fairy accompanied the Queen and the Prince back to the castle, asking him to marry her. But the Prince refused to marry the Evil Fairy who, in a rage, transformed him into an ugly Beast in front of his shocked mother. Before leaving mother and son, the Evil Fairy warned them that only a maiden's act of true love could break the spell and that if anyone else beside the Queen knew about it, the Prince would be a Beast forever. After the Prince's godmother left, the Good Fairy then arrived to help him by turning the castle's servants to stone to prevent them from revealing the curse to outsiders, and promising to protect his mother from the Evil Fairy. The Good Fairy also summoned her Genie servants to keep the Prince company while he waited for Beauty's arrival. The Prince also revealed to Beauty that it was her aunt who arranged for her to see the Prince's true self in dreams and that the birds and monkeys are the Genie servants.

The Good Fairy then summons the King of the Fortunate Island to the castle, reuniting him with his daughter whom he believed to have died in infancy. After bringing the petrified servants back to life, the Fairy tells the Royal Family her story. The King of the Fortunate Island married a Fairy who disguised herself and her Genie servants as a shepherdess and a flock of sheep. Shortly after her daughter was born, the Queen of the Fortunate Island sent her husband on a hunting trip before she and her sister went to Fairyland for one of their kind's triannual meetings with the Fairy Queen. At the meeting, the Good Fairy's sister was imprisoned for being a non-Elder Fairy with a mortal husband and child; the laws of Fairyland forbid non-Elder Fairies (Fairies aged below 1,000 years) from having families with humans. Acting as chief prosecutor at the trial was none other than the Prince's evil godmother, who herself is an Elder Fairy. As further punishment, another Elder Fairy cursed the Princess of the Fortunate Island to marry a Beast.

Back on the Fortunate Island, the people faked their imprisoned Queen's death after being unable to find her. Prior to cursing her godson, the Evil Fairy first attempted to seduce the King by becoming his daughter's governess. The Evil Fairy then hired a greedy couple to kill the Princess as part of her plot to marry the King. To rescue her niece, the Good Fairy (then 990 years old) became an Elder by mastering the Terrible Act, a transformation spell, to turn into a bear and kill the would-be murderers, whose blood she dipped the Princess's clothes in to fake the child's death. The Good Fairy then spirited her niece away to a countryside cottage inhabited by three sleeping women and a sick girl the same age as the Princess. When the sick child died, the Good Fairy secretly swapped the two little girls, burying the dead one in an unmarked grave. Returning to the cottage to find the women waking up, the Good Fairy transformed into a beggar and asked them for food and who they were. The three women replied that they were nurses whose master, the merchant, had sent to the countryside with his youngest child, hoping that the fresh air would cure her. Surprised to find a healthy girl in the cradle and unaware she was not their master's child, the three nurses soon returned to the city with the Princess. Following the nurses to the merchant's mansion, the Good Fairy then disguised herself as the Romani fortune teller who told the merchant of the prophecy of "his" youngest child bringing luck to his household, and decreed that she be named "Beauty."

When the King of the Fortunate Island believed both his wife and daughter to be dead, he banished the Evil Fairy who then attempted to seduce the Prince before turning him into a Beast. The Good Fairy then arranged for Beauty and the Prince to meet, the young couple's love both breaking the Evil Fairy's spell and fulfilling the Princess's destiny to marry a Beast. The Good Fairy had also testified against the Prince's godmother, who has been imprisoned for her crimes against the Royal Family.

After the Good Fairy finishes her story, her sister arrives at the castle, having been freed and made an Elder Fairy as part of a bargain with the Fairy Queen. With the entire Royal Family reunited, Beauty's aunt summons the merchant, his children, and the suitors to the castle. Beauty's surrogate family members are told the whole truth and, with the Royal Family's blessing, are made members of the Princess's court and the suitors marry her jealous sisters.

Beauty and the Prince are married and they live happily ever after, and the Prince's mother commands that their tale be written in books so that everyone could know the story of Beauty and the Beast.

Beaumont's version[edit]

Beaumont greatly pared down the cast of characters and pruned the tale to an almost archetypal simplicity.[13] The story begins in much the same way as Villeneuve's version, although now the merchant has only six children: three sons and three daughters of which Beauty is one. Unlike Villeneuve's version, Beaumont's version treats the merchant as Beauty's biological father and there is no indication of her being royalty by birth. The circumstances leading to her arrival at the Beast's castle unfold in a similar manner, but on this arrival, Beauty is informed that she is a mistress and he will obey her. Beaumont strips most of the lavish descriptions present in Beauty's exploration of the palace and quickly jumps to her return home. She is given leave to remain there for a week, and when she arrives, her sisters feign fondness to entice her to remain another week in hopes that the Beast will devour her in anger. Again, she returns to him dying and restores his life. The two then marry and live happily ever after.

Lang's version[edit]

A variant of Villeneuve's version appears in Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book. Most of the story is the same, except at the beginning where the merchant himself is not at sea, but his ships are. His mansion is burned in a fire, along with his belongings, forcing him and his family to move to their country home in the forest. His ships are lost at sea, captured by pirates, etc., except one, which returns later. Unlike the other two versions, the sisters in Lang's story are not jealous of Beauty. Also, Lang maintained the lavish descriptions of the Beast's palace. This version in particular is one of the most commonly told, along with those of Villeneuve and Beaumont.

This version was written between 1889 and 1913, some time after the original version, so it should be considered as a later version of the story.


The tale is classified in the Aarne–Thompson–Uther Index as type ATU 425C, "Beauty and the Beast". It is related to the general type ATU 425, "The Search for the Lost Husband" and subtypes.[14][15]

In a study about the myth of Cupid and Psyche, Danish folklorist Inger Margrethe Boberg argued that "Beauty and the Beast" was "an older form" of the animal husband narrative, and that subtypes 425A, "Animal as Bridegroom", and 425B, "The Disenchanted Husband: The Witch's Tasks", were secondary developments, with motifs incorporated into the narrative.[16][17]


The tale is one of the most popular in oral tradition.



Emmanuel Cosquin collected a version with a tragic ending from Lorraine titled The White Wolf (Le Loup blanc), in which the youngest daughter asks her father to bring her a singing rose when he returns. The man cannot find a singing rose for his youngest daughter, and he refuses to return home until he finds one. When he finally finds singing roses, they are in the castle of the titular white wolf, who initially wants to kill him for daring to steal his roses, but, upon hearing about his daughters, changes his mind and agrees to spare him his life under the condition he must give him the first living being that greets him when he returns home (note story of Jephthah and his daughter in Judges 11). This turns out to be his youngest daughter. In the castle, the girl discovers that the white wolf is enchanted and can turn into a human at night, but she must not tell anyone about it. Unfortunately, the girl is later visited by her two elder sisters who pressure her to tell them what is happening. When she finally does, the castle crumbles and the wolf dies.[18]

Henri Pourrat collected a version from Auvergne in south-central France, titled Belle Rose (sometimes translated in English as Lovely Rose). In this version, the heroine and her sisters are the daughters of a poor peasant and are named after flowers, the protagonist being Rose and her sisters Marguerite (Daisy) and Julianne, respectively. The Beast is described as having a mastiff jaw, a lizard's back legs, and a salamander's body. The ending is closer to Villeneuve's and Beaumont's versions with Rose rushing back to the castle and finding the Beast lying dying beside a fountain. When the Beast asks if she knows that he can't live without her, Rose answers yes, and the Beast turns into a human. He explains to Rose that he was a prince cursed for mocking a beggar and could only be disenchanted by a poor but kind-hearted maiden. Unlike in Beaumont's version, it is not mentioned that the protagonist's sisters are punished at the end.[19]


The tale is popular in the Italian oral tradition. Christian Schneller collected a variant from Trentino titled The Singing, Dancing and Music-making Leaf (German: Vom singenden, tanzenden und musicirenden Blatte; Italian: La foglia, che canta, che balla e che suona) in which the Beast takes the form of a snake. Instead of going to visit her family alone, the heroine can only go to her sister's wedding if she agrees to let the snake go with her. During the wedding, they dance together, and when the girl kicks the snake's tail, he turns into a beautiful youth, who is the son of a count.[20]

Sicilian folklorist Giuseppe Pitrè collected a variant from Palermo titled Rusina 'Mperatrici (The Empress Rosina).[21] Domenico Comparetti included a variant from Montale titled Bellindia, in which Bellindia is the heroine's name, while her two eldest sisters are called Carolina and Assunta.[22] Vittorio Imbriani included a version titled Zelinda and the Monster (Zelinda e il Mostro), in which the heroine, called Zelinda, asks for a rose in January. Instead of going to visit her family, staying longer than she promised, and then returning to the Monster's castle to find him dying on the ground, here the Monster shows Zelinda her father dying on a magic mirror and says the only way she can save him is saying that she loves him. Zelinda does as asked, and the Monster turns into a human, who tells her he is the son of the King of the Oranges.[23] Both Comparetti's and Imbriani's versions were included in Sessanta novelle popolari montalesi by Gherardo Nerucci.

British folklorist Rachel Harriette Busk collected a version from Rome titled The Enchanted Rose-Tree where the heroine does not have any sisters.[24] Antonio De Nino collected a variant from Abruzzo, in eastern Italy, that he also titled Bellindia, in which instead of a rose, the heroine asks for a golden carnation. Instead of a seeing it on a magic mirror, or knowing about it because the Beast tells her, here Bellinda knows what happens in her father's house because in the garden there is a tree called the Tree of Weeping and Laughter, whose leaves turn upwards when there is joy in her family, and they drop when there is sorrow.[25]

Francesco Mango collected a Sardinian version titled The Bear and the Three Sisters (S'urzu i is tres sorris), in which the Beast has the form of a bear.[26]

Italo Calvino included a version on Italian Folktales titled Bellinda and the Monster, inspired mostly from Comparetti's version, but adding some elements from De Nino's, like the Tree of Weeping and Laughter.

Iberian Peninsula[edit]


Manuel Milá y Fontanals collected a version titled The King's Son, Disenchanted (El hijo del rey, desencantado). In this tale, when the father asks his three daughters what they want, the youngest asks for the hand of the king's son, and everybody thinks she is haughty for wanting such a thing. The father orders his servants to kill her, but they spare her and she hides in the woods. There, she meets a wolf that brings her to a castle and takes her in. The girl learns that in order to break his spell, she must kill the wolf and throw his body into the fire after opening it. From the body flies a pigeon, and from the pigeon an egg. When the girl breaks the egg, the king's son comes out.[27] Francisco Maspons y Labrós extended and translated the tale to Catalan, and included it in the second volume of Lo Rondallayre.[28]

Maspons y Labrós collected a variant from Catalonia titled Lo trist. In this version, instead of roses, the youngest daughter asks for a coral necklace. Whenever one of her family members is sick, the heroine is warned by the garden (a spring with muddy waters; a tree with withered leaves). When she visits her family, she is warned that she must return to the castle if she hears a bell ringing. After her third visit to her family, the heroine returns to the garden where she finds her favorite rosebush withered. When she plucks a rose, the beast appears and turns into a beautiful youth.[29]

A version from Extremadura, titled The Bear Prince (El príncipe oso), was collected by Sergio Hernández de Soto and shows a similar introduction as in Beaumont's and Villeneuve's versions: the heroine's father loses his fortune after a shipwreck. When the merchant has the chance to recover his wealth, he asks his daughters what gift they want from his travels. The heroine asks for a lily. When the merchant finds a lily, a bear appears, saying that his youngest daughter must come to the garden because only she can repair the damage the merchant has caused. His youngest daughter seeks the bear and finds him lying on the ground, wounded. The only way to heal him is by restoring the lily the father took, and when the girl restores it, the bear turns into a prince.[30] This tale was translated to English by Elsie Spicer Eells and retitled The Lily and the Bear.[31]

Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Sr. collected a version from Almenar de Soria titled The Beast of the Rose Bush (La fiera del rosal), in which the heroine is the daughter of a king instead of a merchant.[32]

Aurelio Macedonio Espinosa Jr. published a version from Sepúlveda, Segovia titled The Beast of the Garden (La fiera del jardín). In this version, the heroine has a stepmother and two stepsisters and asks for an unspecified white flower.[33]


In a Portuguese version collected by Zófimo Consiglieri Pedroso, the heroine asks for "a slice of roach off a green meadow". The father finally finds a slice of roach off a green meadow in a castle that appears to be uninhabited, but he hears a voice saying he must bring his youngest daughter to the palace. While the heroine is at the palace, the same unseen voice informs her of the goings-on at her father's house using birds as messengers. When the heroine visits her family, the master of the castle sends a horse to let her know it is time to return. The heroine must go after hearing him three times. The third time she goes to visit her family, her father dies. After the funeral, she's tired and oversleeps, missing the horse's neigh repeat three times before it leaves. When she finally returns to the castle, she finds the beast dying. With his last breath, he curses her and her entire family. The heroine dies a few days after, and her sisters spend the rest of their lives in poverty.[34]

Another Portuguese version from Ourilhe, collected by: Francisco Adolfo Coelho and titled A Bella-menina, is closer to Beaumont's tale in its happy ending – the beast is revived and disenchanted.[35]

Belgium and the Netherlands[edit]

In a Flemish version from Veurne titled Rose without Thorns (Roosken zonder Doornen), the prince is disenchanted differently than in Beaumont's and Villeneuve's versions. The heroine and the monster attend each of the weddings of the heroine's elder sisters, and to break the spell, the heroine has to give a toast for the beast. In the first wedding, the heroine forgets, but in the second she remembers, and the beast becomes human.[36]

In a second Flemish variant collected by Amaat Joos, titled Van het Schoon Kind, the heroine's father is a king instead of a merchant, and when he asks his three daughters what they want him to bring them when he returns from a long journey, the king's youngest daughter asks for a bush of trembling roses while her two eldest sisters asks for robes with golden flowers and a silver skirt. During her stay at the monster's castle the princess has a nightmare where she sees the monster drowning in a pond, and after she wakes up and finds out the monster is not in the corner where he sleeps, she goes to the garden where she finds the monster in the same situation she saw him in her dream. The monster turns into a prince after the princess saves him.[37]

Another Flemish version from Wuustwezel, collected by Victor de Meyere, is closer to Beaumont's plot, the merchant's youngest daughter staying one day more at her family's home and soon returning to the Beast's palace. When she returns, she fears something bad has happened to him. This one is one of the few versions in which the merchant accompanies his daughter back to the Beast's castle.[38]

More similar Beaumont's plot is a Dutch version from Driebergen titled Rozina. In this version, it is Rozina's vow to marry the Beast that eventually breaks the spell.[39][40]

Central Europe[edit]

The Brothers Grimm originally collected a variant of the story, titled The Summer and Winter Garden (Von dem Sommer- und Wintergarten).[41] Here, the youngest daughter asks for a rose in the winter, so the father only finds one in a garden that is half-eternal winter and half-eternal summer. After making a deal with the beast, the father does not tell his daughters anything. Eight days later, the beast appears in the merchant's house and takes his youngest daughter away. When the heroine returns home, her father is ill. She cannot save him, and he dies. The heroine stays longer for her father's funeral, and when she finally returns, she finds the beast lying beneath a heap of cabbages. After the daughter revives the beast by pouring water over him, he turns into a handsome prince.[42] The tale appeared in Brothers Grimm's collection's first edition, in 1812, but because the tale was too similar to its French counterpart, they omitted it in the next editions.

Despite the other folklorists collecting variants from German-speaking territories, Ludwig Bechstein published two versions of the story. In the first, Little Broomstick (Besenstielchen), the heroine, Nettchen, has a best friend called Little Broomstick because her father is a broommaker. Like in The Summer and Winter Garden, Nettchen asks for roses in the dead of winter, which her father only finds in the Beast's garden. When a carriage comes to bring Nettchen to the Beast's castle, Nettchen's father sends Little Broomstick, who pretends to be Nettchen. The Beast discovers the scheme, sends Little Broomstick back home, and Nettchen is sent to the Beast's castle. The prince is disenchanted before Nettchen's visit to her family to cure her father using the sap of a plant from the prince's garden. Jealous of her fortune, Nettchen's sisters drown her in the bath, but Nettchen is revived by the same sorceress who cursed the prince. Nettchen's eldest sisters are too dangerous, but Nettchen doesn't want them dead, so the sorceress turns them into stone statues.[43]

In Bechstein's second version, The Little Nut Twig (Das Nußzweiglein), the heroine asks for the titular twig. When the father finally finds it, he has to make a deal with a bear, promising him the first creature that he meets when he arrives at home. This turns out to be his youngest daughter. Like in Little Broomstick, the merchant tries to deceive the bear by sending another girl, but the bear discovers his scheme and the merchant's daughter is sent to the bear. After she and the bear cross twelve rooms of disgusting creatures, the bear turns into a prince.[44][45]

Carl and Theodor Colshorn collected two versions from Hannover. In the first one, The Clinking Clanking Lowesleaf (Vom klinkesklanken Löwesblatt), the heroine is the daughter of a king. She asks for the titular leaf, which the king only gets after making a deal with a black poodle, promising to give him the first person that greets the king when he arrives home. This turns out to be his youngest daughter. The merchant tries to trick the poodle, giving him other girls pretending to be the princess, but the poodle sees through this. Finally, the princess is sent to the poodle, who brings her to a cabin in the middle of the woods, where the princess feels so alone. She wishes for company, even if it is an old beggar woman. In an instant, an old beggar woman appears, and she tells the princess how to break the spell in exchange for inviting her to the princess' wedding. The princess keeps her promise, and her mother and sisters, who expressed disgust at the sight of the old beggar woman, become crooked and lame.[46]

In Carl and Theodor Colshorn's second version, The Cursed Frog (Der verwunschene Frosch), the heroine is a merchant's daughter. The enchanted prince is a frog, and the daughter asks for a three-colored rose.[47][48]

Ernst Meier collected a version from Swabia, in southwestern Germany, in which the heroine has only one sister instead of two.[49]

Ignaz and Josef Zingerle collected an Austrian variant from Tannheim titled The Bear (Der Bär) in which the heroine is the eldest of the merchant's three daughters. Like in The Summer and Winter Garden and Little Broomstick, the protagonist asks for a rose in the middle of winter.[50] Like in Zingerle's version, the Beast is a bear.

In the Swiss variant, The Bear Prince (Der Bärenprinz), collected by Otto Sutermeister, the youngest daughter asks for grapes.[51]

In another Polish version from Kraków, the heroine is called Basia and has a stepmother and two stepsisters.[52] An apple also plays a relevant role when the heroine goes to visit her family in a Polish version from Mazovia, in this case to warn the heroine that she is staying longer than she promised.[53]

In a Czech variant, the heroine's mother plucks the flower and makes the deal with the Beast, who is a basilisk, who the heroine later will behead to break the spell.[54][55]

In a Moravian version, the youngest daughter asks for three white roses, and the Beast is a dog;[56] In another Moravian version, the heroine asks for a single red rose and the Beast is a bear.[57]

In a Slovenian version from Livek titled The Enchanted Bear and the Castle (Začaran grad in medved), the heroine breaks the spell reading about the fate of the enchanted castle in an old dusty book.[58]

In a Hungarian version titled The Speaking Grapes, the Smiling Apple and the Tinkling Apricot (Szóló szőlő, mosolygó alma, csengő barack), the princess asks her father for the titular fruits, and the Beast is a pig. The king agrees to give him his youngest daughter's hand in marriage if the pig is capable of moving the king's carriage, which is stuck in the mud.[59][a]


Evald Tang Kristensen collected a Danish version that follows Beaumont's version almost exactly. The most significant difference is that the enchanted prince is a horse.[61]

In a version from the Faroe Islands, the youngest daughter asks for an apple instead of a rose.[62][63]

Russia and Ukraine[edit]

A Serbian translation from 1787, published in the old Slavonic-Serbian literary language, translated by Avram Mrazović.

Alexander Afanasyev collected a Russian version, The Enchanted Tsarevich (Заклятый царевич), in which the youngest daughter draws the flower she wants her father to bring her. The beast is a three-headed winged snake. There is a more famous version, The Scarlet Flower, written by Sergey Aksakov and published in 1858.

In a Ukrainian version, both the heroine's parents are dead. The Beast, who has the form of a snake, gives her the ability to revive people.[64]

Greece and Cyprus[edit]

In a version from the island of Zakynthos in Western Greece, the prince is turned into a snake by a nereid whom he rejected.[65]

The prince is also turned into a snake in a version from Cyprus in which he is cursed by an orphan who was his lover. In the end, the heroine's elder sisters are turned into stone pillars.[66][67]


Eastern Asia[edit]

North American missionary Adele M. Fielde collected a tale from Swatow, China,[68] titled The Fairy Serpent. In this tale, the heroine's family is visited by wasps until she follows the beast, who is a serpent. One day, the well she usually fetches water from is dry, so she walks to a spring. When the heroine returns, she finds the snake dying and revives him plunging him in the water. This turns him into a human.[69]

In a second Chinese variant, Pearl of the Sea, the youngest daughter of rich merchant Pekoe asks for a chip of The Great Wall of China because of a dream she had. Her father steals a chip and is threatened by an army of Tatars who work for their master. In reality, the Tatar master is her uncle Chang, who has been enchanted prior to the story, and could only be released from his curse until a woman consented to live with him in the Great Wall.[70]

Southeast Asia[edit]


North America[edit]

United States[edit]

William Wells Newell published an Irish American variant simply titled Rose in the Journal of American Folklore. In this version, the Beast takes the form of a lion.[71]

Marie Campbell collected a version from the Appalachian Mountains, titled A Bunch of Laurela Blooms for a Present, in which the prince was turned into a frog.[72]

Joseph Médard Carrière collected a version in which the Beast is described having a lion's head, a horse's back legs, a bull's body, and a snake's tail. Like the end of Beaumont's version, Beauty's sisters are turned into stone statues.[73]

In a variant from Schoharie, New York, collected by Emelyn Elizabeth Gardner with the title The Rosy Story, the heroine is named Ellen. The character that demands the youngest daughter is a headless man, but the Beast-like figure is a large toad.[74]

Folklorist Fanny Dickerson Bergen published a fragmentary variant from Ohio, with the title The Golden Bird, which is the object the youngest daughter asks for.[75]


Mexican linguist Pablo González Casanova collected a version from the Nahuatl titled Cizuanton huan yolcatl (Spanish: La doncella y la fiera), in which after returning to her family's home, the heroine finds the beast dead on the ground. The girl falls asleep by his side, and she dreams of the beast, who tells her to cut a specific flower and spray its water on his face. The heroine does so, and the beast turns into a beautiful young man.[76][77]

South and Central America[edit]

Lindolfo Gomes collected a Brazilian version titled A Bela e a Fera in which the deal consists of the father promising to give the Beast the first living creature that greets him at home. The heroine later visits her family because her eldest sister is getting married.[78]

Broader themes[edit]

Harries identifies the two most popular strands of fairy tale in the 18th century as the fantastical romance for adults and the didactic tale for children.[79] Beauty and the Beast is interesting as it bridges this gap, with Villeneuve's version being written as a salon tale for adults and Beaumont's being written as a didactic tale for children.


Painting of Petrus Gonsalvus (c. 1580)

Tatar (2017) compares the tale to the theme of "animal brides and grooms" found in folklore throughout the world,[80] pointing out that the French tale was specifically intended for the preparation of young girls in 18th century France for arranged marriages.[81] The urban opening is unusual in fairy tales, as is the social class of the characters, neither royal nor peasants; it may reflect the social changes occurring at the time of its first writing.[82]

Hamburger (2015) points out that the design of the Beast in the 1946 film adaptation by Jean Cocteau was inspired by the portrait of Petrus Gonsalvus, a native of Tenerife who suffered from hypertrichosis, causing an abnormal growth of hair on his face and other parts, and who came under the protection of the French king and married a beautiful Parisian woman named Catherine.[83]

Modern uses and adaptations[edit]

The tale has been notably adapted for screen, stage, prose, and television over many years.






See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Windling, Terri (April 2010). "Introduction". In Datlow, Ellen; Windling, Terri (eds.). The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People. Penguin Group. ISBN 9781101186176. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  3. ^ Stouff, Jean. "La Belle et la Bête". Biblioweb.
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  5. ^ Bacchilega, Cristina (1997). Postmodern Fairy Tales: Gender and Narrative Strategies. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 169. ISBN 9780812200638. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  6. ^ Kruse, Carl (5 July 2021). "Variations of Beauty and the Beast". Carl Kruse. Retrieved 29 February 2024.
  7. ^ Harrison, "Cupid and Psyche", Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome',' p. 339.
  8. ^ Heidi Anne Heiner, "Tales Similar to Beauty and the Beast"
  9. ^ Thomas, Downing. Aesthetics of Opera in the Ancien Régime, 1647–1785. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002.
  10. ^ Sedgwick, Marcus (5 February 2020). "Wolves and lies: a writer's perspective". In Bill Hughes, Bill; George, Sam (eds.). In the Company of Wolves: Werewolves, Wolves and Wild Children. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9781526129055. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  11. ^ da Silva, Sara Graça; Tehrani, Jamshid J. (1 January 2016). "Comparative phylogenetic analyses uncover the ancient roots of Indo-European folktales". Royal Society Open Science. 3 (1): 150645. Bibcode:2016RSOS....350645D. doi:10.1098/rsos.150645. PMC 4736946. PMID 26909191.
  12. ^ "Fairy tale origins thousands of years old, researchers say". BBC News. 20 January 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  13. ^ Betsy Hearne, Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of An Old Tale, p 25 ISBN 0-226-32239-4
  14. ^ Aarne, Antti; Thompson, Stith. The types of the folktale: a classification and bibliography. Folklore Fellows Communications FFC no. 184. Helsinki: Academia Scientiarum Fennica, 1961. p. 143.
  15. ^ Uther, Hans-Jörg (2004). The Types of International Folktales: A Classification and Bibliography, Based on the System of Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson. Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, Academia Scientiarum Fennica. p. 252. ISBN 978-951-41-0963-8.
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  1. ^ However, despite the proximity of the Hungarian tale with others of The Animal as Bridegroom cycle, Hungarian scholarship separates this tale under its own classification in the Hungarian Folktale Catalogue: MNK 425X*, "Gorgeous Grapes, Smiling Apple, Bloomy Peach".[60]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ralston, William. "Beauty and the Beast". In: The Nineteenth Century. Vol. 4. (July–December 1878). London: Henry S. King & Co. pp. 990–1012.

External links[edit]