Beauty and the beast: The problem of the female hero in children's literature
This study is an historical exploration of the fairy tale archetype, “Beauty and the Beast,” a “degenerate” form of the myth “Eros and Psyche.” The heroic quest cycle is missing in this story about young women-a traditional element m archetypal stories about young men. When basic elements are missing in an archetype, it is evidence of a “pathology.” That omission is part of an ideology that is meant to influence perceptions about the proper role for young women in society. Popular stories, like fairy tales and romances, reflect the material conditions of the communities in which they are told and are conservative; but as these conditions change, so do the stories. Women have won greater equality in the last century; therefore, new stories reflecting the material conditions of equality have begun to appear.
0295: Comparative literature