Beauty

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Mon Jan 17 12:38:04 EST 2000


>>And you're certainly not obnoxious to voice a different opinion, Hallie!
>>Sheesh.  You'd think Sally and I were scary or something....  :)
>On Sat, 15 Jan 2000 22:40:14 +0100, Hallie O'Donovan wrote:

I actually wasn't worrying that it was obnoxious to voice a different
opinion, more that the manner in which I'd done it was obnoxious.  But once
I'd "boiled it down", it just wouldn't rehydrate again.

 I think the whole book is extremely passive, not at
>all in the heroic mode like _F&H_ or _The Perilous Gard_, both of which are
>actually higher on my favorites list than _Beauty_.  (I really do prefer
>more active books, in general.)  Not a lot happens, there's no great feats
>of heroism; it's just extremely quiet and not world-shaking.

That certainly isn't what bothered me about it - I'm quite content with
books which are quiet - I was going to mention Persuasion, and how nobody
jumped around in that one, until I remembered Louisa Musgrove and realized
what I had just been thinking.  Of course, she is NOT the heroine!
Anyway..


  When her father returns and
>first tells them that he's supposed to bring one of his daughters back, they
>didn't have to do anything.  They could have just stayed put and never
>returned to the forest.  It was Beauty's sense of honor, and that of her
>family, that made Beauty's choice necessary;

I'm fairly sure that I think this is inaccurate; when I checked, I found
that the Beast tells the father "And do not imagine that you can hide from
your doom, for if you do not return in a month, I will come and fetch you!"
Though that's probably somewhat irrelevant for me anyway.  In fact,
imagining that she's truly "laying it all on herself" makes it worse.

Where I've come around to in my thinking about all this now, is that I can
all too easily imagine either one of my daughters, a close friend, myself
even (though I am far too old to fit the fairy-tale, it's emotional
response I'm talking about here, not circumstance) or Polly, for that
matter,in the place of Beauty.  And that's frightening.  I think it really
does tie back to F&H, where Polly is stuck at the end by really feeling
sorry for Seb, sympathizing with him, and yet needing not to go along with
those emotions.  In a way, it felt to me as if DWJ gave her an out, let her
off the hook, by having Seb say something so awful that it freed her from
the sympathetic feelings.  And I found it quite right that she should have
given Polly that out.  The long passages with Beauty feeling sorry for the
Beast (as where she remembers that *he* has been lonely in the castle for
200 years, that *he* has no family to miss), always leading up to the
nightly "will you marry me?" - which he will NOT stop asking her, even when
requested, are very distressing.  And then it culminates in his giving her
one week, but telling her that he will die if she doesn't come back then,
for he cannot live without her.  WHAT?  I could contrast this with just
about every description of love which makes sense to me ( Kate/Christopher,
Polly loving Tom enough to lose him, if that's what it takes being the
obvious two which spring to mind - though the end of Gaudy Night is popping
up too, for some reason).  But there's no hint of the Beast's allowing
Beauty the freedom to make a choice to love him - for how can she, the
honourable, the compassionate person that she is, be free not to love him,
if it will result in his death?

I haven't answered all the points you've made, and have also strayed quite
a ways from where I started.  But this was an exploration of where the
three (or four?  Elise?) of us diverged while having so many tastes in
common, so maybe it's all right to leave it only partly addressed for the
moment.

The tragedy thing was only a joke, BTW, Melissa.  I'm far more of the
opinion that my exceedingly low tolerance for tragedy is a weakness in me,
than that someone else's liking a book which happens to be tragic is weird
in him or her.

Hallie
hallieod at indigo.ie


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