Tag Archives: Feminism

Beauty and the Beast? Yeah, right!

Okay, I love a good impossible fantasy-type love story as much as the next guy, but honestly, Disney may be pushing my credulity just a little too far. This weekend I stood in a chilly line outside the movie theater so that I could get in to the latest version of Beauty and the Beast. However, there were a few questions that entered my cynical mind while I was watching.

Beauty and the Beast

Official Disney Movie Poster Copyright Disney Studios http://movies.disney.com/beauty-and-the-beast-2017

For a girl who is looked down on by the town, everyone seemed to know her. They greeted her in a friendly manner, asked about her activities and her day and though I saw little or nothing unusual about her there, the townspeople broke into song about how odd she was. I don’t find it odd that she read books and avoided Gaston whenever possible, but the fact that all she wants her father to bring her back from the market is a rose…now that’s odd.

Then there was the issue of the castle. I could take that it was winter all the time. I could even accept that it was surrounded by wolves. Even a crabby beast lurking in the shadows would be creepy but not too far out. But the second the candlestick invited me to dinner and my tea cup started talking, I’d have been out of there. Eaten by a wolf? Much better than having a conversation with your singing dresser drawers!

Beyond that is the interesting question of the looks of the key characters. We are asked to believe that the gift of a library and a snowball fight was all it took to make Belle overlook the fact that the object of her affection was a character who looked like a cross between a raging bull and Lucifer himself. Even that may be credible, but a union between a human and this “beast” would have been difficult to sustain. Would they live in the cold castle filled with creepy talking furnishings or would they go and live in the village where people already described Belle as odd?

Looks were a key consideration throughout the movie, but I couldn’t help wondering about the reverse question: What would have happened if Belle had been the beast and the prince was expected to fall in love with her anyway? Now, you have to admit there are many more stories out there where beautiful girls marry less than perfect looking, but wonderful men, than beautiful men who marry girls without looks.

A cynic (and I sometimes am one) might suspect that Belle took a look at the giant and ornate castle and its fine accoutrements  and decided she could overlook a furry physique and a couple of horns for a lavish lifestyle. I prefer the romantic point of view, however; I think Belle falling for a horrific beast who then turned into her Prince Charming is very romantic—if not very believable.

Lastly, I don’t want to leave out the mob in the “small provincial town.” Shakespeare seemed always to write his plays with utter contempt for the fickle and clueless mob. This story takes up that issue as well. The mobs follow Gaston when he locks up Maurice for suggesting that there is a monster and then just as faithfully follow him along when he decides that not only is there a monster, but they must kill it. This makes the mob even more stupid than Gaston and twice as gullible!

Okay, I guess this is the last of my questions, but as for the movie of Beauty and the Beast, I really did enjoy it. I spent the days after I went to the movie singing the songs and dancing around the house with sheets draped around me like Belle’s dress and holding conversations with my kitchenware…but don’t worry, nothing has so far talked back! Have a great week and go and see Beauty and the Beast for a fantasy treat!

 

© Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In the Well, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In The Well with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Henry had feminist issues…

I have been reading a lot lately about feminist viewpoints and the equality between men and women. As an historian, I’ve studied equality between the genders all through the history of man (forgive the gender specific term). The men who treated their wives with great respect and equality were definitely in the minority, especially among the ruling class.

The anti-feminist winner, however, has to be one of my most fascinating studies in history in the case of Henry VIII of England. Known by his contemporaries as “Bluff King Hal,” Henry gave women little reason to think he was a kind and benevolent fellow.

Henry knew the ins and outs of marriage and even more about handling a divorce without any squabble. In fact, you might say he was a master at matrimony and an even greater deviser of divorce.

First married to his brother’s widow, the Spanish Katherine, Hal lived peaceably in married bliss (for him anyway) for about 18 years and was considered quite the devoted husband since he had only had two or three mistresses during that time. Things might have rolled along well, but Henry had two problems: First, he had no son to be king after him and two, he took a strong fancy to his wife’s lady-in-waiting—Anne Boleynn.

Now, for all the men who have deserted their wives and failed to provide proper alimony or child support, consider the case of poor Katherine. She was forced to live in a falling down pile of stone, complete with rats and mildew. Her food had to be tasted by loyal servants to make sure she wasn’t “accidentally” poisoned…a fact which probably made it hard to hire “loyal” servants.

Anne Boleynn in her turn, failed to give Henry a son and her end was even worse than Katherine’s, because by then Henry knew how to chop to the heart of the matter, or in Anne’s case, the head. She was beheaded and Henry lost no time in marrying HER lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour.

Had I been Jane, I’d have hired only ladies-in-waiting who were ugly or old, but it probably didn’t matter since Jane had the fortune to produce the long-awaited boy. She died in the process, which probably makes her the luckiest of Henry’s wives.

Not a man to be discouraged, Henry married wife number four, Anne of Cleves. He was betrothed without seeing the lady, whom he labeled “the Great Flanders Mare” on first sight. It is important to remember that by this time, old Henry was no Adonis himself and not the sweetest tempered of men, but it is said that on their wedding night, he was alarmed to be met with Anne’s hair on a tray, being carried out as he went in!

This marriage achieved the fastest divorce on record, since both husband and wife were eager to be released. Anne collected all she could in the divorce settlement and lived happily ever after without Henry, so you might say she was the happiest of his wives.

Henry, not to be discouraged, married another lady-in-waiting. In fact, his eighteen-year-old child bride, Katherine Howard, was a cousin to Anne Boleynn. She met the same fatal end, losing her head after Henry discovered she liked younger men than him.

Henry tried one more time, marrying Katherine Parr, a 30 year old widow who was already in love with someone else. It wasn’t wise to reject Henry as a suitor, however, so the reluctant bride married the old man.  Katherine was the most educated of Henry’s wives and for expressing her opinion (which conflicted with Henry’s) she almost lost her head. Henry did her the favor of dying before he could do it, which probably makes her even luckier than Jane Seymour.

Forgive this small history lesson, but with all the talk about equality between the sexes and feminist positions, I couldn’t help thinking of Henry and the women—all of them feminist in their own ways—who conducted their own form of gender wars with him. Hope you have better success in your own gender wars!

 

 

 

© Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In the Well, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Wells-Fauth and Drops In The Well with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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