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Taming the Modern Beast

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by Anastasia Salter on 17 March 2011

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Transcript of Taming the Modern Beast

Taming the
Modern Beast Anastasia Salter
Bettelheim, Bruce. The Uses of Enchantment. New York: Knopf, 1976.

Block, Francesca Lia. "Beast." The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold. New York: Joanna Colter Books, 2000. 167-198.

Griswold, Jerome. The Meanings of "Beauty and the Beast": A Handbook. Ontario: Broadview Press, 2004.

Keyser, Elizabeth. "Feminist Revisions: Frauds on the Fairies?" Children's Literature 17 (1989): 156-179.

Warner, Marina. "Go! Be a Beast: Beauty and the Beast." Hallett, Martin and Barbra Karasek. Folk and Fairy Tales. Ontario: Broadview Press, 1996. 415-427.

Windling, Terri. "Married to Magic: Animal Brides and Bridegrooms in Folklore and Fantasy." Realms of Fantasy June 2004.

Zipes, Jack. Fairy Tale As Myth, Myth As Fairy Tale. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1994.
—. Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion. New York: Routledge, 1988.

Zipes, Jack. "Once Upon a Time in the Future." Why Fairy Tales Stick: The Evolution and Relevance of a Genre. New York: Routledge, 2006. 91-129.
Works Cited “Beauty learns that Beasts can
understand more than men.” Outer flap, The Rose and the Beast, Francesca Lia Block "Fairy tales have evolved as humans have evolved...always adapting to the environment and circumstances in which they were generated"

Jack Zipes, Future 130 why has the Beast evolved? What does this evolution tell us about the men that the feminist reconstruction of fairy tales has created? Several studies have already observed the evolution of the Beauty and the Beast tale: in doing so, it is impossible the starting point of “Cupid and Psyche”, a love story more myth than fairy tale. "the tales in the Beauty and the Beast Group...[are] the most eloquent testaments to women's struggles, against arranged marriage, and towards a definition of the place of sexuality in love" (Warner 427). the woman only obtains happiness through submission. In what is arguably the "original" Beauty and the Beast, by Madame Le Prince de Beaumont, Beauty is a problematic progressive character: "Beauty can be admired for her courage and similarly deprecated for submitting to the will of two men, her father and the beast. It would seem that she actually seeks to be dominated and to be praised for her submission as a virtuous and courageous act" (Zipes Myth 34) This Beauty must "sacrifice her body for the desire of the Beast. It is the Beast who wants her. She must learn that his desire is her desire just as she had learned that her father's desire was her desire" (Zipes Myth 37). This aristocratic nature of the Beast has at times been preserved by modern adaptations, including the Disney film,
In some of these narratives, the woman is the one tamed by the man, as she abandons her middle-class lifestyle for the ways of the aristocrat: “Perrault’s tale presents a ‘civilized’ version of the taming of the shrew whereby the female must learn to deny her sexual urges and subordinate her wishes and drives to please the reasonable male who knows what is best for her. Though ugly and misshapen he endows her life with the spiritual discipline and dignity it would otherwise lack” (Zipes Subversion 34). Yet the aristocratic man, tied to the image of domestic life, no longer holds sway in adaptations: "By the 1990s, the perception of the social outcast, the exile from humankind in the form of a beast, had undergone such a sea-change that any return to full human shape might have degraded rather than redeemed the hero, limited his nobility rather than restored it" (Warner 422). The “Shrek” film holds the Disney narrative up to direct parody as its heroes experience a final transformation that rejects beauty and civil manners for happiness and life as ogres in the swamp. The unnatural, regimented life that the Beast as Prince represents is no longer the fairy tale ending. Griswold notes that modern society has a transformed relationship to the natural that has transformed the Beast in turn: "As a tool...to consider what it is to be a man or a woman in our own times, as a means to reckon how our hyper-civilized society has come into being at the cost of wildness, as a site for examining our troubled reactions to Otherness in all its varied forms...our era's fascination with this fairy tale suggests that 'Beauty and the Beast is what Joseph Campbell calls a 'living myth.' It is a story that is still alive and informs the way we live: the way we recoil, for example, from the ugly woman or homeless man begging for a hand-out, and how we feel guilty in the next heartbeat; the way we encounter a couple in the aisle of a store and then wonder 'What does she see in him?'" (25). the cast of beauty and the geek - reality TV The fairy tale endures because it can continually be projected upon our neighbors. Remaking the Beast Beauty and the Beast Tales beauty civilizes the beast...
...or learns to submit to his desires? the relationship comes down
to control of the house:

while the Beast's body is
animal, his heritage is generally
aristocratic and there is no doubt
to his rulership disney ending? ? in the classic narratives and the retellings, both beauty and the beast are victims traditionally, the Beast is cursed by a woman who he rejects in some fashion, thus perpetuating the spurned woman as villain and adding some nobility to the Beast’s plight “The male protagonist is never responsible for the world being out of joint. Each tale depicts him as a victim (generally transfigured by a wicked female fairy) and a model of bourgeois raisonnement”
(Zipes Myth 41). Block’s Beast does not begin as a victim “The Beast’s eyes were the dark, slightly slanted, loving, fierce, hypnotizing eyes of a god” (Block 179.) If there is a curse, we do not learn its nature, nor do we understand the Beast as anything other than a creature that roams the gardens and terrorizes the father who plucks a forbidden rose. To some extent, Block relies on the familiarity of the tale, but her decision to ignore explication of the Beast’s state more thoroughly separates Beast from man. The Beast’s wild relationship with nature means that we do not consider him a victim: nowhere is there a sense that his condition causes him unhappiness, or that, in his wild state, he is waiting for the hand of civilization to free him. If he is cursed, it is a curse that many would freely embrace. Instead of hobbling him, his wildness helps to empower Beauty, as she is freed by their setting and his knowledge to experience the world outside her father’s house fully for the first time. Embracing the Wild? Modern film is full of idolizations of the wilderness, and the natural state, as Griswold observes: "this desire for a missing wildness is not gender specific--whether it takes the form of, say, 'Thelma and Louise' or 'City Slickers'--its coupling with the story of 'Beauty and the Beast' has meant our era's rewriting the fairy tale in a specific manner. The traditional story is evolutionary in the way the Beast changes into a man, but our own revisions of the tale have often moved in the opposite direction and towards an atavistic conclusion" (Griswold 22). Block’s narrative begins with the promise of an unusual ending: rather than Beauty shaping the Beast, the Beast seems to be bringing Beauty closer to a natural state that she seems to desire. The idolization of this state is only possible because we no longer fear the wild "One distinct change marks modern re-tellings...reflecting our changed relationships to animals and nature. In a society in which most of us will never encounter true danger in the woods, the bear who comes knocking at our window is not such a frightening creature; instead, he's exotic, almost appealing. Where once wildness was threatening to civilization, now it's been tamed and cultivated; the dangers of the animal world now have a nostalgic quality, removed as they are from our daily existence" (Windling). the wildness of nature = sex Beauty arrives in Beast’s world to fall asleep and awaken nude in bed: “Did you undress me? She asked. The Beast nodded his huge head. He looked so gentle and kind that she didn’t know what to say next. She wanted to stroke his fur and scratch his ears until he cocked his head and rumbled his throat with pleasure.” (Block 188). The bed is traditionally a spot of transformation for another tale of animal lovers In Block’s tale, however, it is the beginning of intimacy but not of a transformation:

“For the next few weeks Beauty and her companion never spoke. He knew her thoughts and tried to give her everything he needed. Even more – he seemed to feel her feelings. When she was sad he moaned softly in his sleep, then woke to nuzzle his cool nose against her neck. When she was happy he frisked around her, wagging and wiggling with joy like a pup” (Block 188-189). The Beast’s pleasure is described as that of an animal, and expressed in animal terms. Block’s Beauty

“had been waiting for a beast.”

A beast—not a man, an important distinction, for Beauty never expresses any longing for Beast to become other than what he is. "The Animal Bride or Bridegroom, the Beast, the Other from the heart of the woods--they re-unite us with a world we've lost, re-awakening the wild within us" (Windling). Transformation The traditional moment of transformation through love is realized... ...but it comes without Beauty’s consent or expectation.

Beauty is caught unaware by the move from Beast to man “She was so shocked by his pain that she didn’t even notice the biggest change of all that came about when she threw her arms around him and told him again and again that she loved him more than anyone in the world, she would never love anyone else in such a pure, vast way” (196).

At her words, the Beast becomes a man within her arms “Yes, the Beast changed. He spoke more now, and did not gaze at Beauty in the same intense, almost pained way, as if he were feeling every emotion she felt. He did not sigh in his sleep when she sighed and his stomach didn’t growl when hers hurt. He could not read her thoughts anymore, and she could not read his” (197). “Beauty loved him more than anything, her Beast boy, but, secretly, sometimes, she wished that he would have remained a Beast” (198). thank you
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