A Story From: France
Read Time: ["6 to 10mins"]
For Ages: 5 to 7yrs., 8 to 10yrs.
Read More of This Story
“I will go there in your place. Or else, you will die there.”
“This is your daughter?” said the Beast, looking at Beauty.
“Yes, I am,” she said. “I will stay here for my father. And that means he is free to go. That is what you said.”
“Yes,” said the Beast.
At the Beast’s palace, the days were long. There was no one for Beauty to talk to, and no books to read. Every night at nine, the Beast would come for dinner. She would say nothing. After all, it is not easy to be a prisoner, even if you are at a palace. The Beast would only grunt.
Then one time at dinner the Beast made a little joke, and she smiled. Another time, he said something clever, and she looked him in the eye. After that, he would ask her about her day, and she would tell him.
The days were long and there was no one for Beauty to talk to.
One day, Beauty came to a part of the palace she had not seen before. Over a door was a sign, “Beauty’s Room.” The door was open. Inside the room were shelves of books from the floor to the ceiling. There was a piano, and a cabinet of fine dresses just her size.
Now there was much to talk about at dinner! The Beast was glad that Beauty found the room and liked her surprise. One night, at the end of dinner, Beast said, “Beauty, I love you. Will you marry me?”
Beauty did not know what to say. “Beast, I have come to like it better here,” she said. “Talking to you can be the best part of the day. But please understand. I don’t want you to marry you.”
Many times, the Beast asked her the same question. And each time Beauty shook her head and said the same thing. One night, the Beast said, “Beauty, if you will not marry me, what can I do to make you happy?”
“If you must know,” she said, “it would be to see my father. I miss him so much!”
“Beast, I have come to like it better here,” she said. “Talking to you can be the best part of the day. But please understand. I don’t want to marry you.”
The next night, the Beast gave Beauty two magical gifts – a mirror and a ring. “If you want to see your father,” he said, “just ask the magic mirror to take you to him. When you are ready to come back, turn the ring on your finger three times. Ask the mirror to bring you back here. But please do not be gone for more than one week. For I will die of grief!”
Beauty was glad to agree. When she got back to her room, she looked in the magic mirror. She asked the mirror to take her to him. And there he was in bed right before her. Yet he looked so sick, it was as if he may die!
“But do not be gone for more than one week. Or I will die of grief!”
Such joy her father felt when he looked up and saw Beauty! For much of what made him sick was knowing that Beauty was stuck in the palace, all because of him.
Beauty stayed by her father’s bed for many hours. She told him that things were not quite so bad at the Beast’s palace. She had all the books she could want to read. She had music to play, and many fine dresses to wear.
“The Beast is really not so bad,” she said, “when you get to know him. He can be good to talk to.”
Beauty looked around. “Where are my sisters?”
“Married,” said her father.
“Did they marry good men?” she said.
“They had money,” said the father. “But I do not know if your sisters are happy.” For the eldest sister had married a handsome man who thought of no one but himself. And the middle sister had married a man who was very clever. But he used his sharp wit to hurt everyone around him, and most of all his wife.
Beauty looked around. “Where are my sisters?” she said.
When the sisters came to the house and saw Beauty dressed so well and talking about how kind and good the Beast was to her, they burned with anger. Beauty told them she must stay no more than one week.
And the two sisters came up with a plan.
The sisters petted Beauty and said such nice things to her they had never said before. When she told them she must go soon, they cried. They said she must not leave! There was still so much left they wanted to do with her. And what did it matter anyway, just a few more days? So Beauty stayed.
One night she had a dream about the Beast. In her dream, the Beast lay sick and dying. When Beauty woke up, she asked the magic mirror to show her the Beast. And there he was in the mirror, lying in the rose garden, looking so sick he would die. At once, she turned the magic ring three times. “Take me back to the Beast!” she said. In a moment she was sitting next to the poor, sick Beast, who could only gasp for air.
In her dream, the Beast lay sick and dying.
“You came back!” said the Beast in a thick voice.
“I am sorry that I am late!” said Beauty.
“I could not bear it that you may not come back to me. And now, I fear it is too late.” His eyes closed.
“No!” cried Beauty. “Do not leave me!” Just then, she knew in her heart what was true. “I love you!” she cried out. “Please come back! Come back and I will be your wife. I will!” Tears rolled down her cheeks.
Just then, the Beast opened his eyes. “Beauty!” he said. “You did it!”
In a flash, the Beast was changed to a handsome prince! Beauty did not know what to think.
“Ah, Beauty!” he said. And the Beast told her his story. Years ago when he was a prince, an evil fairy had put a spell on him. He must stay a beast forever, until a maiden grew to love him when he still looked like a Beast. Now she had been the one to break the spell!
And so Beauty and her prince, formerly the Beast, were married. And they lived happily ever after.
This version of "Beauty and the Beast" is combined by Elaine L. Lindy from two sources:
(1) the story as told by Madam Prince de Beaumont in 1756 (The Young Misses Magazine, Containing Dialogues between a Governess and Several Young Ladies of Quality Her Scholars, 4th edition, volume 1, London, pp.45-67). Beaumont's tale was a 17-page summary, and revision, of an earlier 362-page version written by Madame Villeneuve in 1740. The first English translation of de Beautmont's version appeared in 1757.
(2) the story as told by Joseph Jacobs in 1916 (European Folk and Fairy Tales, New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, pp. 34-41).
The copyright for this version is held by Elaine L. Lindy ©2006. All rights reserved.
"Beauty and the Beast" is a classic fairy tale, nearly as beloved as "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty." Yet unlike those two stories, where the female protagonist instantly falls in love with her prince, in this tale the woman gets to know the male character first and develops a relationship with him before she falls in love. Another distinguishing characteristic of the story is that the male character, portrayed as hideously ugly (a "beast") proves to be gentle and kind, thus disproving the notion that first impressions are trustworthy.
The "animal bridegroom" motif is well known to folklorists, however the specific tale of "Beauty and the Beast" as we know it evolved from the literary imagination of two Frenchwomen. Madame Beaumont wrote a version which itself was a revision of an even longer tale penned by Frenchwoman Madame Villeneuve over a decade before (see "Source of Story"). However Madame Beaumont is credited with the plot line of the story we accept today. In her version, Beauty comes to appreciate the Beast by her own initiative rather than in the Villeneuve version, where she is repeatedly reassured by a Good Fairy and magical dreams that loving the Beast is a good idea. The story of "Beauty and the Beast" is often mistakenly credited to Charles Perrault, who published a popular collection of fairytales (Tales of Mother Goose) in 1697, including this one. Some note a similarity with the story line in the modern King Kong films.