To my surprise, criticism states that the Beast does not change his manner in the original tales. In addition, Beauty is the one tested.
The tale can be seen as a new bride and her following fears:
- New home with an unknown man,
- If he is not handsome = unhappiness or a cruel husband,
- never seeing old home again,
- And just plain unhappiness.
The most commonly known written version was by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. Writer and critic Angela Carter states, "[the] tale has more to do with 'being good' than with 'doing well': 'Beauty's happiness is founded on her abstract quality of virtue (The Classic Fairy Tales). In the view of arranged marriages, a woman is happy from her great qualities instead of from marrying well (a rich and/or handsome man).
Beauty proves herself a loving daughter when she volunteers herself as the Beast's expected guest. Her intention was to save her father from feared danger and to fulfill his promise.
The last duty comes up a lot in retellings. Angela Carter argues that Beauty is property transferred between her father and new husband. Some critics think the tale is about a young woman's transference of love for her father to her new husband.
Back to the good qualities, Beauty is expected to be a good guest and "wife."
In the end, the Beast is transformed because she sees the good already in him. The heroine states, "It is neither good looks nor great wit that makes a woman happy with her husband, but character, virtue, and kindness, and Beast has all those good qualities." Thus, Beauty is the one to undergo a change in her perspective of the man she now lives with.
One instance of the good in the Beast and the arrangement is when she is allowed to visit her family. Allowed this privilege sounds depressing, but this scene comforts a new bride's fear of never seeing her old home again.
A new bride's fears and the forced arrangement are aspects I look at in Beauty and the Beast retellings. In fact, the interest has inspired me to write a story. I hope to post with news about it someday. :)