best of books Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg Under 100 #2 The Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve

Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve (1685-1755)

She was born and raised in a powerful protestant French family. Now largely forgotten, she was one of the most prolific and commercially successful writers of her time. She wrote fairy tales as well as novels. The book that is considered her masterpiece is called La Jardinière de Vincennes. The title we most remember her for, The Beauty and the Beast, was released in 1740.

The Beauty and the Beast

I think we all are familiar with this fairy tale. But, I imagine that the majority of people is only familiar with the Disney version of the story. The fairy tale itself is a bit different. I used to think that it was fairy tale because of its fantastical elements. But, once I read the story fully something else came to mind.

Beast is not an abusive piece of crap like he is in the movie. He is always nice and treats her like a queen from the moment she arrives. There isn’t also the character of Gaston. Why? Because Gaston is your average jerk, jock (starting quarterback) archetypial antagonist and the French knew better. The original story is much smarter than that. The antagonist of the story is an antagonist we all collectively share, time. People have to do certain things in a certain amount of time. If they fail, they pay the consequences.

But back to the story

Beauty pays the price of her father’s mistake and spends time with the Beast who adores her. He gives her everything. He even proposes to her a bunch of times. She keep rejecting him, because she only sees him as a good friend. So, in a way, this might be the most famous example of literary friendzoning. But, the beast knows and sees that she misses her family. So he lets her go back home for her sisters wedding. But she has to be back at a certain date, or else grave harm will befall the beast.

She is late to return. The beast almost dies. Seeing that she might lose him makes her realize that she really loves him. And the moment she is honest to herself about the way she feels about this wonderful guy who she has put into the friend zone again and again, he becomes super hot.

So that is why I think that this is a fairy tale. Because a guy successfully escapes the friend zone.

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