Beauty

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Sat Jan 15 16:40:14 EST 2000


>Robin McKinley, THE BLUE SWORD - Elise;  BEAUTY. (Perfection for me - it's
>such a charming story and she avoided the "cheap thrill" of making the elder
>sisters unpleasant.) -SallyO;  ROSE DAUGHTER,THE BLUE SWORD,THE OUTLAWS OF
>SHERWOOD - Sarah
>---Melissa:  I agree.  It [Beauty] just felt perfect.

All right, I'm now determined to explore this one.  Sally and Melissa both
used the word "perfect" to describe McKinley's _Beauty_, and Elise - well,
I don't remember any disclaimers about Beauty (of course, I also don't
remember much about The Blue Sword, so my memory is not that reliable).
Now, in general, I'd have thought you three were among the closest to my
tastes in reading - even given SWM, and Melissa and tragedies.  Especially
with Perilous Gard and Fire and Hemlock being such strong favourites for
all of us.  So the disparity on Beauty is really, really puzzling to me.
This doesn't fit into my "Books I can't believe any sane person..."
catagory, but it's still intriguing.

When I was pondering this one, one thing I realized I was basing a lot on
was the common element in Perilous Gard and Fire and Hemlock of the Heroic
Ideal, and its applying to the female character.  This is also part of what
really appealed to me in both of these books.  When I thought about Beauty,
it seemed to me virtually anti-Heroic, from Beauty's point of view anyway
(no, both actually, but that's a different discussion).  She's honourable,
and intelligent, but so passive.  If you boil it down, she's taken (for no
justifiable action of her own), held unwilling captive, with great personal
loss, and then just reads a lot, and generally exerts a civilizing
influence until - hey presto - the blinkers fall from her eyes and she
realizes she Truly Loves Him.  My Lord, how many problems I have with this!


I read Beauty years ago, probably before Becca was born, and I don't
remember feeling this way about it, but it's really not that I've become
old and cynical.  It probably does have a lot to do with being the mother
of girls though.  Anything which feeds into the acceptance by women of
abusive behaviour really sets off my alarm-bells.  And for all the
gallantry and the luxury showered on Beauty, what other word is there for
enforced captivity and separation from your family, than abusive?

So where are we parting company on all this?  Aside from the part where I
am being unfairly facetious and obnoxious about a book you consider
perfect, that is!  But before that part?

Hallie
hallieod at indigo.ie





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