Beauty is a kind girl who lives with her father and two older sisters; Gertrude and Zelda. Her father is a dispossessed merchant having lost everything when a ship full of merchandise with which he had all his money tied up was feared lost at sea. They live in the country in a humble cottage. But news arrives that the ship was discovered safe, and was now in harbour. The merchant was now rich beyond his wildest dreams. He only had to go to town to collect his share. Beauty's two older sisters are excited about their new-found wealth. All Beauty wants is for him to come back safe. He presses her for something he can bring back as a gift, and finally she relents and says that she would be happy with a rose.
On the way into town, he encounters an old woman who asks for money. The merchant obliges and gives her what he can afford. Thanking him, she tells him 'To hold onto your money. It is so easily lost' The merchant pays no heed to her warning and arrives in town.
He finds his partner's business address and arrives to collect his share of the money. His partner has hired a thief to steal the merchants papers and pretends not to know him, instead calling him a beggar and telling him to get lost or he would sick the dogs on him.
He wanders through town looking for a place to stay but he has no money and must set out at night through the forest. The old woman finds him and tells him 'Did I not tell you to hold onto your money'
A storm approaches and the merchant seeks shelter in a splendid castle in the woods. Unseen hands provide him with food and drink and a warm bed.
In the morning, the skies have cleared. He finds the castle garden and sees beautiful roses growing there. At least he can bring Beauty back a rose. But as he struggles to free the flower, he hears a ferocious roar. A huge beast is coming. The beast grabs the merchant and threatens to kill him for taking one of his 'prize roses'. The merchant begs for his life. The merchant tells the beast that he only picked the rose for his daughter. The Beast is intrigued and makes a bargain with the merchant. In return for his life, the merchant must return with Beauty who must come willingly and stay with the beast. The merchant agrees with no real intent of fulfilling his end of the bargain.
Meanwhile back at the cottage, the Snuff brothers have arrived to woo the three sisters. They are foolish indeed, and Beauty is kind but not interested in Jonathon Snuff; the youngest of the brothers.
The Merchant arrives and Beauty is happy to see him safe but her sisters are upset that he did not bring them any presents from town. He tells the girls what happened and fully intends to forget the beast.
But one day a carriage arrives pulled by six black horses and the Merchant realizes that his end of the bargain needs to be fulfilled if he wants to retain his life. Bravely Beauty decides to go to live with the Beast.
They take the carriage back to the Beast's castle and when Beauty sees the Beast, she faints. The Beast is pleased that the merchant honoured his part of the bargain and sends him home with riches. But the merchant is devastated to lose his daughter.
Beauty is not happy to be locked up in the castle. She misses her father and her sisters. The Beast exhibits great kindness to her but she is still unhappy. She has dreams about a handome prince who tells her not to judge by appearances. Beauty thinks the Beast has him locked away in the castle somewhere and searches for him. As the days drag on Beauty finds out that the Beast has kept a letter from her, a letter that her father had sent her. She is upset and the Beast says he only did it because he did not wish to lose her. He relents and agrees to let her go home for awhile if she promises to come back.
Once reunited with her family she forgets about the time. She stays later than she said she would.
The carriage arrives to pick her up but her father convinces her to stay a little longer so they send the carriage away.
But at night she begins having nightmares. The Beast is dying. She has to see him right away. She gets her father to take her back to the castle which is now cold and desolate. The Beast lies dying in the rose garden. She weeps over him and professes her love. By her words of love he suddenly is transformed into the handsome prince of her dreams.
The Prince says that he was unkind to an old woman who was actually a witch and she cast a spell on him, changing him into a beast until the love of a pure girl could set him free from his beast-like prison.
Beauty and the Prince(Beast) are to be married and her older sisters have agreed to marry the two older Snuff boys, leaving young Jonathon Snuff unfortunately without a wife.
Bruno Bettleheim suggests that it is simply a story of growing up, of a young girl who is attached to her father and sees a young man as a hairy beast. As she matures, she sees the beast differently. She sees him as replacing her father. Beauty and the Beast complete each other. It is perhaps the most completing male and female story since Romeo and Juliet. Beauty and the Beast has been coined many times to reflect certain males relationships with women. Arthur Miller when he married Marilyn Monroe or various male sports figures when they marry movie stars. Its a great story for kids because what is frightening and what is scary becomes wonderful. Kids experience a tarnsformation as much as does the Beast, from being scared of him to rooting for him. It is a wonderful thing for an audience to experience such a transformation.
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