Did you know that the original story of Beauty and the Beast is a French novel from the 1700s? The novel, originally written for adults, was authored by a woman named Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. Shortly after she wrote La Belle at La Bete, others wrote their own versions of the story so that children could enjoy the fairy tale, too. And, since they were writing their own adaptations, they also drew upon their knowledge of additional elements from similar stories of the past. That information leads a lot of literary researchers to believe that the story we know today as Beauty and the Beast has roots that are almost 500 years old!
Like many of the stories we’ve talked about in our other writing prompts, this fairy tale is considered to be timeless (or a “Tale as Old as Time") because it has many universal themes. Love, kindness, family are just a few of those themes to which we can all relate. Most of us today know this story because of the animated film version from 1991; the stage version from 1994; or the live action film from 2017. These adaptations were all created by the Walt Disney organization; and brought this beautiful story of love and acceptance to audiences all over the world.
One of the most charming, and relatable, elements of the Disney adaptations of Beauty and the Beast is the inclusion of the Beast’s servants that are gradually becoming inanimate objects. Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts are just a few of the Disney characters with which we can connect as we travel through the Beast’s castle with Belle. They also allow us to enjoy some pleasant moments, through the use of comedy and music, as the tale progresses.
Using any version of Beauty and the Beast as your starting point, choose one inanimate object that may have been in the Beast’s castle. Your choice can be an object from one of the adaptations with which you’re familiar (candlestick, tea pot)—or it can be anything of your choosing (one of the books in the library, a statue in one of the gardens). Once you’ve made your choice, write an adaptation of this iconic fairy tale from the point of view of that chosen object. Think about what it would be like to be inside that huge castle. Would it be dark, or filled with light? Does the Beast talk to the objects in the castle? If so, what does he say? Can you imagine what the books would say to each other as they sit on a bookshelf next to each other? Explore what you’d think about as your character, and what you’d say to the Beast (or to Belle) if you could talk to them. What would they say in response to your character?
Let your imagination wander, and make this story (and character) truly your own!