Dancing Princess Parties is excited to introduce our Fairy Tale Friday Featured Princess Post! This week is focused on Classic Belle! Our Classic Belle recently had a face lift! She now has a beautiful new upgraded dress and she cannot wait to Be a Guest at your next party! But before Belle stole our heart’s in Disney’s 1991 animated film, she graced the pages of story books…like the ones she loves to read.
Beauty and the Beast Before Disney
The original french fairy tale known as La Belle (the beauty) et la Bête (and the beast) was written in 1740 Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. Her version was very long, so it was shortened and re-written in 1756 by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont.
In the original plot Beauty’s father (as she was called) was a widower merchant who had six children, three boys and three girls. His daughters are very beautiful, especially the youngest, Beauty, is the loveliest, kindest and most pure of heart. Her sisters, however, are wicked, selfish, vain, and spoiled.
Beauty’s father was very rich, and they spent most of their life in a mansion. One day, however, he loses his wealth unexpectedly when a storm at sea sinks his fleet of ships; forcing him and his family to move and work on a farm.
Beauty’s father learns that one of his ships survived the storm and he is eager to regain some of his trade. As he leaves on his mission he inquires of his children what gifts he should bring home. His sons ask for weaponry and horses to hunt with, and his oldest daughters ask for the richest and finest clothing and jewels. Beauty asks simply for a rose, since they do not grow where they live.
Beauty’s father heads off to the ship only to discover that the ship’s cargo has been seized in exchange for his debts. He realizes that he is without any wealth and will not be able to fulfill the wishes of his children.
Distraught, Beauty’s father becomes lost during a storm while on his way home. He stumbles across a large palace and seeks shelter. He finds a lavish interior complete with a dining room and a lavish dinner set out. He eats and decides to spend the night. The next morning, feeling refreshed, he begins his journey home when he discovers a beautiful rose garden. He decides to pick that largest and prettiest rose fit for Beauty. As soon as he picks the rose he is suddenly face to face with a hideous “Beast”. The beast tells him the rose is his most precious possession. How dare he pick it after the Beast’s hospitality. The only punishment is death.
Beauty’s father explains why he picked the rose and begs the beast to be allowed to give the gift to his daughter. Upon hearing this, the beast agrees to let Beauty’s father go in exchange for one of his daughters in his place. Unwillingly Beauty’s father agrees with this bargain. The Beast also gives Beauty’s father the gifts for the rest of his sons and daughters and sends him on his way.
When he returns home, he informs his children of the deal with the Beast. After much debate, Beauty agrees to go to the castle. The Beast welcomes her and informs her that she is now mistress of the castle, and he is her servant. He provides Beauty with the finest gifts, food and hospitality. Beauty and the Beast build a friendship which results in the Beast asking her to marry him every night, but every night she refuses as she only sees him as a friend. Each night after refusing the Beast’s proposal Beauty dreams of a handsome prince who asks her why she will not marry the Beast. She is convinced the Beast has the Prince as a prisoner. She searches the castle for the Prince but cannot find him.
Beauty begins to grow homesick after several months in the castle. She asks Beast if she can go home to visit her family. He allows Beauty to leave on the condition that she returns exactly a week later. The Beast gives Beauty an enchanted mirror and ring. The mirror allows her to see what is going on back at the Beast’s castle, and the ring allows her to return to the castle in an instant when turned three times around her finger.
Beauty returns home. Her older sisters become jealous to see her well fed and wearing extravagant dresses. Beauty offers to share with her sisters, but everything they touch turns into rags. As soon as Beauty takes the gifts back they are restored. That is because the Beast intended them for Beauty alone. The sisters are so jealous, they decide to trick Beauty into staying longer than the week that she promised the Beast. They hoped he would be so angry that he would eat her when she returned. Beauty agreed to stay. But soon, she begins to feel very guilty about breaking her promise. She uses the mirror to see the Beast. She is shocked and dismayed to discover the Beast, nearly dead, from a broken heart. She leaves immediately to return back to the castle.
Beauty finds the Beast and begins sobbing. She is sorry she broke her promise. She lets the Beast know how much she loves him. When her tears touch him, he suddenly transforms into the Prince that Beauty had dreamed about. Beauty asks how this is possible. The Princess explains about a fairy that had visited him long ago. He refused to give her shelter from the rain and as a curse for his heart. The fairy turned him into a Beast until he could find true love, and only then would the spell be broken. The Prince and Beauty are married and they live happily ever after together.
There you have it! The Disney favorite stuck very close to the original story, but added some magical, amusing and enchanted characters along the way. There were no singing Tea Pots or Tale as Old as Times in the original, but we can certainly understand why this Fairy Tale has touched the hearts of so many. Check back soon when for our Beauty and the Beast Onstage Blog where we will take behind the scenes of the live action entertainment of Ballet and Broadway!