Lauren Baratz Logsted, the author of the just released Crazy Beautiful - a modern fairy tale, is here with us today. Since her latest novel, as we all know, is a retelling of Beauty and Beast, I have asked her to share her view on a particular subject that has been interested me for such a long time: Loving The Beast. The beast does not just look scary and ugly, seems like he's trying to keep a distance from people by being mean and unfriend. So, how could the heroine love him?
We all, at least those of us who think ourselves romantics, love the Beast. Why is that?
When I think of the Beast, I don’t necessarily think of the Disney-fied Beast with his body all covered with hair, although I did have the fairy tale Beast in mind when I created Lucius Wolfe in Crazy Beautiful. But what I was dwelling on more was how he got that way, how a poor decision on his own part resulted in his outward physical transformation, making him the architect of his own tragic condition. I was also thinking about the constant interplay between surface information – physical appearance, rumors – and how others perceive and treat us, which in turn shapes how we perceive and treat the world in an endless cycle.
I’ve often heard Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight referred to as a Romeo & Juliet story, and I see that to a certain extent. But far more than that, I see it as a Beauty & the Beast story. Again, Edward’s not covered in hair like the big guy in Disney. What he is, really, is Other. And that’s true, I think, of every Beast character in literature. They are Other, somehow different from the society that surrounds them. They all have physical features that signify them as such – the Beast’s hair, Edward’s cold vampire skin, Lucius’s hooks – giving society a convenient surface reason to treat them as less than.
So what attracts us romantics to the Other? What attracts Belle to the Beast, Bella to Edward, and Aurora to Lucius? It is exactly that otherness, that sense of someone uniquely different than everybody else, and that sense that we alone are capable of seeing beyond the mere surface to the real human being beyond. There’s the sense, too, that we can somehow make it better; we can take the pain away. There’s something very attractive in that.
Really, what does Prince Charming have going for him anyway? Sure, I guess he’s heroic. I mean, he does always save the day and all. But really, isn’t he kind of boring? And that personality – sooo one-dimensional. Good guy, good guy, good guy. Blond, blond, blond. Snore, snore, snore. Take the Beast, on the other hand – he’s dizzyingly complex. The Beast may have started out in life as a prince, but all similarities between him and that Charming guy end right there. The Beast has seen bad things. He’s done bad things. He’s definitely had bad things done to him. And yet somehow, he manages to become heroic, he learns how to love and earns the right to be loved.
We love the Beast because he promises us a journey. After all, where’s the story if you start good and end good? Far better to start bad and end good. I’m pretty sure that what you don’t want is for the hero to start good and end bad.
That’s my story, at least for today. But I reserve my right to change my mind tomorrow. I hope you were entertained.
So what do you think? Do you agree with Lauren? Are you on Team Prince Charming or do you happen to be one who likes to side with The Beast? Go on and tell us.