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This article focuses on the story, "Beauty and the Beast".
For the film of the same name, see "Beauty and the Beast (Film)".
For the Season Seven episode, see "Beauty".
For the Beauty from the story, see Belle.
For the Beast from the story, see Rumplestiltskin.

"Beauty and the Beast", also known as "La Belle et la Bête", is a fairytale featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It was written by French author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve in 1740. It was revised and popularized by French author Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont in 1756.

Traditional Plot

A widower merchant lives in a mansion with his twelve children (six sons and six daughters). All of his daughters are very beautiful, but the youngest, Beauty, is the most lovely. She is also kind, well-read, and pure of heart; her elder sisters, though, are cruel, selfish, vain, and spoiled. On a dark and stormy night at sea, the merchant is robbed by pirates who sink most of his merchant fleet and force the entire family to live in a country house 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 firmness for insensibility, forcing her into doing household work in an effort to make enough money to buy back their former home.

A year later, the merchant hears from one of his crew members that one of the trade ships he had sent has arrived back in port, having escaped the destruction of its companions. Before leaving, he asks his children if they wish for him to bring any gifts back for them. The sons ask for weaponry and horses to hunt with, whereas the oldest daughters ask for clothing, jewels, and fine dresses, as they think his wealth has returned. Beauty asks nothing but her father's safety, but when he insists on buying her a present, she is satisfied with the promise of a rose after none had grown last spring. However, to his dismay, the merchant finds that his ship's cargo has been seized to pay his debts, leaving him penniless and unable to buy his children's presents.

On his way back, the merchant is caught in a terrible storm. Seeking shelter, he comes upon a mysterious palace. The merchant sneaks in, seeing that nobody is home, and finds tables laden with food and drinks which seem to have been left for him by the palace's invisible owner. The merchant accepts these gifts and spends the night. The next morning, the merchant sees the palace as his own possession and is about to leave 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 for a bouquet, but is confronted by a hideous "Beast" who warns him that theft of his property (i.e., the rose) is a charge punishable by death. Realizing his deadly mistake, the merchant begs for forgiveness, revealing that he had only picked the rose as a gift for his youngest daughter. After listening to his story, the Beast reluctantly agrees to let him give the rose to Beauty, but only if the merchant brings Beauty to him in exchange without deception; he makes it clear that Beauty must agree to take his place so he can treat her as his fiancée, and not his prisoner, while under no illusions about her predicament. Otherwise, the Beast will destroy his entire family.

At first, the merchant is upset about Beauty being abducted into marrying him, but he reluctantly accepts. The Beast sends him on his way atop a magical horse along with wealth, jewels and fine clothes for his sons and daughters, but stresses that Beauty must never know about his deal. The merchant, upon arriving home, tries to hide the secret from his children, but Beauty pries it from him on purpose. Reacting swiftly, the brothers suggest they could go to the castle and fight the Beast together while the older sisters place blame on Beauty for dooming the entire family. To release her father from the engagement, Beauty volunteers to go to the Beast willingly, and her father reluctantly allows her to go.

Once she arrives at his palace, the Beast is excited to meet Beauty face to face, so he throws a welcome ceremony by treating her to an amazing cabaret. He gives her lavish clothing and food and carries on lengthy conversations with her in which she notes that he is inclined to stupidity rather than savagery. Every night, the Beast asks Beauty to sleep with him,[1] only to be refused each time. After each refusal, Beauty dreams of dancing with a handsome prince. Suddenly, a fairy appears and pleads with Beauty to say why she keeps refusing him. She replies that she doesn't know how to love the Beast because she loves him only as a friend. Despite the apparition of the fairy urging her not to be deceived by appearances, she does not make the connection between a "prince" and a "beast" and becomes convinced that the Beast is holding the Prince captive somewhere in his castle. She searches and discovers many enchanted rooms ranging from libraries to aviaries to enchanted windows allowing her to attend the theater. She also finds live furniture and other live objects which act as servants, but never the Prince from her dreams.

For a month, Beauty lives a life of luxury at the Beast's palace with no end to riches or amusements 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 in exactly two months. Beauty agrees to this and is presented with an enchanted ring which will take her back to the Beast when the two months are up. The rest of her family is surprised to find her well fed and dressed in finery. At first, her father advises her to marry the Beast, but when Beauty refuses, her father and her brothers do all they can to detain her return to the Beast. However, Beauty is determined to honor the deal she made.

When the two months are almost up, Beauty begins hallucinating the Beast lying dead in his quarters and uses her ring to return to the Beast. Once she is back in the castle, Beauty's fears are confirmed as she finds out that the Beast died of shame due to her choice of staying with her family permanently after her first trip to his castle. Completely devastated over the wrong choice she made, Beauty bursts into tears and laments that she should have learned how to love the Beast in the first place, screaming, "I am sorry! This was all my fault!". Suddenly, when she says those words, the Beast is transformed into the handsome prince from Beauty's dreams. The Prince informs her that long ago, a powerful witch turned him into a hideous beast for his selfishness after trying to seduce him and that only by finding true love, despite his ugliness, could the curse be broken. He and Beauty are married and they live happily ever after.

The story begins in much the same way, although now the merchant has only six children: three sons and three daughters of which Beauty is one. 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.

Show Adaptations

  • Unlike the original Beauty and the Beast tale, the "beast" is not given a grotesque appearance as comeuppance from a fairy for his unkind ways, but rather seeks out to control a being known as the Dark One to compensate for his own cowardly ways. This goes badly when the man, Rumplestiltskin, kills the Dark One with a special blade that causes the being's powers to transfer onto him instead. From this, the powers of the Dark One corrupts both Rumplestiltskin's physical looks as well as the depths of his soul with an increasing desire to obtain more power and kill those who threaten to take it away.
  • In the original tale, the merchant stumbles upon a castle and is caught trying to steal a rose for his daughter, Beauty, which causes the beast to ask in return that either the man returns or he sends his daughter. Beauty goes in her father's place, but in the show adaption, Belle sacrifices herself to Rumplestiltskin in order to save the townspeople from ogres.
    • While Beauty's father is a merchant and forced by the beast to choose to return or send his daughter, Belle's father is a lord of a castle and begs for assistance in protecting his land and people from attacking ogres with Rumplestiltskin suggesting Belle become his servant as part of a deal, which she agrees to.
  • Rumplestiltskin's curse can only be broken by true love's kiss. However, Rumplestiltskin refuses to let go of his powers and his budding relationship with Belle is cut short when he kicks her out of his castle.
  • The Black Fairy was Rumplestiltskin's mother, who cut him from his fate of a savior, which eventually led him down the path to becoming a "beast". In the original version of the story, this fairy is supposed to take care of children, much like it is said the Black Fairy was supposed to.

Characters Featured

Original Character Adapted as First Featured in
The Beast Rumplestiltskin "Skin Deep"
Yaoguai / Prince Phillip (allusion) "The Outsider"
Beauty Belle "Skin Deep"
The merchant Sir Maurice "Skin Deep"
The evil fairy Black Fairy (allusion) "Changelings"
Maleficent (allusion) "The Outsider"
Beast's father
(de Villeneuve version only)
Peter Pan "The Heart of the Truest Believer"
The merchant's horse Maurice's horse "Her Handsome Hero"
Beast's mother
(de Villeneuve version only)
Black Fairy "Changelings"

Locations Featured

Original Location Adapted as First Featured in
The Beast's castle The dark castle "Skin Deep"
Merchant's country house Maurice's castle "Skin Deep"
Beauty's hometown Belle's village (mentioned) "Skin Deep"

Items Featured

Original Item Adapted as First Featured in
The rose Gaston's rose (allusion) "Skin Deep"
Magical rose "The Dark Swan"
The mirror Mirror of Souls (allusion) "Her Handsome Hero"

Notes and References

  1. Beast's question, while somewhat risqué, is not used in a sexual fashion: When Beauty finally agrees to sleep with the Beast, he merely sleeps beside her all through the night, and no other activities beyond Beauty's mysterious dreams are described.
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