The Original Folklore Tale That Inspired 'Beauty And The Beast'

Believe it or not, there wasn't actually a French-speaking candlestick in the original.
PHOTO: Beauty And The Beast/Disney

Yes, we've all become massively obsessed with Beauty And The Beast recently.

Saying that, I've personally been obsessed with trying to achieve the level of curliness the Beast has in the original cartoon for years.

But since it was announced that Disney was doing a live-action version of the cartoon with Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as Beast, everyone's gone particularly bananas for it.

But where does the story of a beautiful, but slightly unconventional, woman falling in love with one hell of a beast actually come from? Dr Simon Heywood, Lecturer in Creative Writing, has explored the story's origin as a folktale and has the answers.

He says: "The tale is the work of two eighteenth-century French writers: Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont and Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve.

"They didn't invent it, however. Others in early modern Europewriters such as Straparola and Basileknew similar stories of supernatural or beastly husbands. And they didn't invent them, either.


"Over a thousand years previously, a Roman lawyer and philosopher, Apuleius, had written a novel which featured the tale of Cupid And Psyche, concerning a woman forced into a supernatural marriage, not with a monster but, instead, with a god."

According to good ol' Wiki, Cupid And Psyche goes a little something like this:

"There were once a king and queen, who ruled an unnamed city. They had three daughters of conspicuous beauty. The youngest and most beautiful was Psyche, whose admirers, neglecting the proper worship of the love goddess Venus, instead prayed and made offerings to her.

"It was rumored that she was the second coming of Venus, or the daughter of Venus from an unseemly union between the goddess and a mortal.

"Venus is offended, and commissions Cupid to work her revenge [aka stick a dart in her butt to make her fall in love with a beast of sorts, so people will lose interest in her and fall back in love with Venus]. Cupid instead scratches himself with his own dart, which makes any living thing fall in love with the first thing it sees. As soon as Cupid scratches himself he falls deeply in love with Psyche and disobeys his mother's order to make Psyche fall in love with something hideous.

And Cupid and Psyche live happily ever after. YEAH RIGHT!

She doesn't care much for Cupid, so the idolized Psyche is still single. And seeing as her sisters have got themselves husbands already, the king starts wondering why Psyche is still alone.

Wiki says:

"He suspects that they have incurred the wrath of the gods, and consults the oracle of Apollo. The response is unsettling: the king is to expect no human son-in-law, but rather a dragon-like creature who harasses the world with fire and iron and is feared by even Jupiter and the inhabitants of the underworld.

"Psyche is transported to the underworld, and awakes to find herself at the edge of a cultivated grove. Exploring, she finds a marvelous house with golden columns, a carved ceiling of citrus wood and ivory, silver walls embossed with wild and domesticated animals, and jeweled mosaic floors.

"A disembodied voice tells her to make herself comfortable, and she is entertained at a feast that serves itself and by singing to an invisible lyre.

"Although fearful and without sexual experience, she allows herself to be guided to a bedroom, where in the darkness a being she cannot see makes her his wife. She gradually learns to look forward to his visits, though he always departs before sunrise and forbids her to look upon him, and soon she becomes pregnant."

"Psyche's family longs for news of her, and after much cajoling, Cupid, permits her sisters a visit. When they see the splendour in which Psyche lives, they become envious, and undermine her happiness by prodding her to uncover her husband's true identity, since surely as foretold by the oracle she was lying with the vile winged serpent, who would devour her and her child.

"One night after Cupid falls asleep, Psyche carries out the plan her sisters devised: she brings out a dagger and a lamp she had hidden in the room, in order to see and kill the monster. But when the light instead reveals the most beautiful creature she has ever seen, she is so startled that she wounds herself on one of the arrows in Cupid's cast-aside quiver. Struck with a feverish passion, she spills hot oil from the lamp and wakes him. He flees, and though she tries to pursue, he flies away and leaves her on the bank of a river."

Then she basically wanders around looking for this stud muffin for eternity.

Follow Anna on Twitter.

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.


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