Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Beauty and the Beast

Well, I would begin with a book opening and a narrators deep intriguing voice, however this type font and a screen prevent me. Fiction along with all of literature is written to evoke an emotion in the readers. Just recently I journeyed into Baltimore and saw the play “Beauty and the Beast” a new hit musical. I was impressed with the cast and enjoyed the performance. The play included new songs that were not in the original Disney movie and added dancing, plus amusing antics to make for an entertaining evening. This performance struck a different emotional chord with me because my younger sister played Belle in her middle school musical back when she was in 9th grade. I can recount the many hours when I could here her matching pitches with recordings trying to adapt the perfect “Belle” voice. She succeeded and as a result I subconsciously learned all the words. It made this viewing of the play even more special.
In the play, Belle has visions of the fairy tales that she reads in her books. The townspeople judge her but she continues to read and wish to be in any other place but her town. This aligns perfectly with what William Wordsworth is conveying through his poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”. The speaker is caught up in a daydream. He is ignoring the pains of everyday-life and would much rather be like a cloud, soaking in the sights of nature. It brings the speaker great joy to dream of far off fields of daffodils; the very same is felt by Belle when she reads her books.
One of the most important lessons that Beauty and the Beast can teach us is to not make judgments based on appearances. Belle learns to love the Beast and he learns to love her as well.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Aylmer and Georgiana, the main characters of the short story “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Aylmer is married to the closest-to-perfect woman in the world and he becomes disgusted with her one and only flaw, a birthmark in the shape of a tiny hand on her check. Eventually this becomes an obsession and he has to remove it by means of alchemy. In the end the birthmark is removed but Georgiana dies in the process. That Aylmer failed to see was the beauty of his wife’s spirit; what she had that was inside of her. One example is when he asks her to sing. She obliges and it is beautiful and soothing. This further drives Aylmer to create a perfect human being out of his wife and she ends up paying the ultimate price.
As the plot thickens in Beauty and the Beast, Belle’s father is accused of insanity because of his ravings about the Beast. As it turns out, Belle saves her father from asylum by showing the beast and thereby proving that he is not crazy. One of the most convincing insights to the mind of the insane comes from the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The narrator in this story describes a life of solitude as a prescription for her nervous condition. Her husband is a physician and insists that this is the cure for his wife; however, he is the one that brings about this horrible, slow slide from sanity. The wife is appalled at first by the ugly wallpaper that coats her room. As the story continues, she becomes more and more attached to and intrigued by the woman that she sees inside the paper. At the climax of the story, the woman is convinced that she is the woman in the paper, thus completing her one-way trip to insanity. Not quite the story of the kooky father of Belle but at the same time provides the casual reader with a notion of what is is truly like to be insane. 

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