Monday, January 27, 2014

A Beastly Beauty

It started with the college assignment of creating a Narrative Rhyme (a play for young actors). Once I developed a workable angle, Beauty and the Beast was the clear choice.  

Here was the nugget that came to me all those years ago: What if Beauty was a jerk? 

A major flaw of traditional fairytales is the one-dementionality of their characters. Consider a typical fairytale princess.  No matter which evil-stepmother is persecuting her or which handsome prince saves her in the end, she has one thing in common with all her sisters: she is unfailingly good. It doesn't seem to matter what type of abuse the world shells out, our beloved heroine (Snow White, Beauty, Cinderella, etc.) simple lays down and takes it (i.e. sleeps for one hundred years, dutifully returns to cleaning ashes out of the hearth, and/or willingly cooks and cleans for seven tiny men.)

Side note: feminism was definitely not a thing in fairyland.

The purpose of these tales was to instruct children on correct behavior.  The moral of our princess' tale? Good always wins. Against all odds, the self-sacrificing scullery maid wins the prince's heart, the cursed maiden is awakened by loves first kiss...blah, blah, blah. And one more. Blah.

You get the picture.

Admittedly, back in the day, if you were evil enough you probably would contract syphilis and die. Side note: unlike feminism, syphilis was a thing back then. We've all known individuals who, while living the worst sort of lives, make more money and gain more public acclaim than say, the average kindergarten teacher.  The real world isn't black and white. We walk in shades of gray, struggling to keep our footing as we pass through layers of shadow in search of light.

Perhaps that's why the idea of a beastly Beauty stayed with me long after I turned in the assignment. The very notion gave me that delicious feeling of having desecrated something that has been around for far too long. Like smashing a particularly ugly heirloom. Don't you love those crashing noises?

Ten years and several versions later, Bella--the possessor of a grand panorama of human foibles--is coming to light in Becoming Beauty.  I hope you'll love her.  She's created out of all the best and worst parts of me.  Because, after all, every girl wants to be a princess, even if the princess happens to be a little crotchety.
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Thanks for stopping in! Feel free to grab your complementary tiara on the way out and leave me a comment about your favorite types of heroines!