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DOMINANCE THROUGH SUBMISSION
Submission is an intricate idea that can change the focus of a tale. Depending upon how you look at the idea of submission Madame Le Prince de Beaumont?s version of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast and Carter?s version ?The Tiger?s Bride? can be viewed in various ways. Submission is the key to the whole story, and because of how intricate submission is, there are many critiques on the story. According to various critics the focus of the story is upon the dominance and submission of the characters in the story. There is the dominant male and the submissive female which are found in the society the story originated from, but the idea that the female can be dominant through her submissiveness is completely dismissed. The fact that Beauty openly defies her father and the Beast in both Carter?s ?The Tiger?s Bride? and Beaumont?s tale is additionally dismissed even when it plays such an important role in the story. The idea of the submissive female and the dominate male is a common idea that is often referred to simply because of the time the fairy tale originated from, but the underlying themes in the story show another idea to the attentive reader, the idea of dominance through submission.
It is easy to believe that Beaumont was doing her job in teaching young misses the characteristics important to a lady in the society in which they were growing up. These same characteristics are displayed in Beauty?s role in the story. The characteristics of Beauty apparently suggest submission to the dominant male and what he feels should happen in her life. According to Zipes, Madame Le Prince de Beaumont used her story ?to delude them (the girls in her charge) into believing that they would be realizing their goals in life by denying themselves? (Zipes 232) what they wanted in life. Zipes saw that these were the traits and characteristics displayed by Beauty. Yet there must be more to the tale than this superficial appearance.
?The fairy tale was used in refined discourse as a means through which women imagined their lives might be improved? (Zipes 232). This exact statement implies there is more to Beaumont?s version of the tale. Beaumont was dealing with a society in which men controlled, and women played a behind the scenes role. Beaumont was using her position in society to further women and their roles in hopes of influencing the status of ladies in the future. Beaumont had to be careful because she ?was a progressive thinker who contributed a great deal to raising the esteem of girls and women in England and France.? (Zipes 234), and she lived in the male dominated society. Beaumont could have hidden an underlying message that is continually being overlooked and is even continually emphasized in Carter?s ?The Tiger?s Bride.?
In both ?The Tiger?s Bride? and Beaumont?s Beauty and the Beast, Beauty is shown as a submissive character that is dominated, ?she lives in a master/slave relationship with her father and accepts all his decisions without question? (Zipes 235). The father and the Beast represent the male role that Beauty is supposed to succumb to. They also represent the role that all women were expected to submit to. Yet, there are instances in both Beaumont?s version and Carter?s version where the opposite happens and Beauty is the dominant character. There is an underlying reason for this. The underlying reason is that submissiveness can accomplish dominance in a subtle manner. In Beaumont?s version of Beauty and the Beast, Beauty?s submissiveness and role of the woman is apparent when Beauty is taking care of her father. Beauty will not marry because she wants to take care of her father, and even after she is living happily with the Beast she wants to return and comfort her father. Beauty plays housekeeper, comforter, and dutiful daughter. While she does this, she earns and holds the respect of her father in a passive aggressive manner, and later in the story the father backs down when Beauty stands up to him.
??I assure you, father,? said Beauty, ?that you will not go to the castle without me: you cannot prevent me from following you?? (Beaumont 219). Beauty blatantly defied her father. When Beauty stands her ground she is respected and her defiance is accepted because she was so submissive at all the other times. It is possible that Beaumont and Carter were trying to relay a sense of freedom and quiet domination and control through submissive traits.
The manner of submissiveness and defiance that Carter portrays in Beauty differs from Beaumont?s portrayal of Beauty. While the Beaumont?s Beauty is a comforter, and housekeeper, Carter?s Beauty seems to have a colder air about her. When she is lost in the gambling match she is cool and reserved towards her father. Carter?s Beauty had a submissiveness that did not come from love. With Carter?s Beauty she knew that it was her duty, and she knew she could do nothing about it. ?I watched with the furious cynicism peculiar to women whom circumstances force mutely to witness folly,? (Carter 248) While Beaumont?s Beauty forced her father to accept her going to the Beast in his stead, Carter?s Beauty took it on as a duty and accepted it in a cold submissiveness. That displayed even more dominance when Carter?s Beauty?s father begged forgiveness of his daughter.
The idea of submissiveness being dominance is further displayed in both stories when Beauty acts in outright defiance to the Beast. Each story is different in how Beauty is asked to submit, but when you get very basic, the idea is that Beauty takes control in the relationship with the Beast through her feeling strong and secure enough to say ?no?. Beauty knew she had to live with the Beast, but she also knew that the Beast could not control her in every way. She denies the Beast of the only thing he asks of her, and the only thing she can deny him. He could force what he asks upon her, but then it would not be the same as her giving it freely.
In Beaumont?s tale the denial comes as consent to marry and in Carter?s it comes as her consent to reveal herself to him. Both of the deeds that the Beast asks of each Beauty are ones that could demean a woman if forced upon her. The fact that Beauty denies the Beast and takes the risk of being demeaned shows her strength and control. When Beauty freely accepted what was asked of her, she was proving that she held a freedom not often given to women at the time.
She was surviving in a society where the men where in control, and the man and woman lived in a ?master/slave relationship? (Zipes 235) where in it would take a lot of strength from a woman to blatantly defy the male. Beauty did, and by doing this she gained the dominance in the relationship.
The largest example of this is contained in a conversation between Beauty and the Beast in Beaumont?s version. The Beast asks if he can watch Beauty eat supper. ??Beauty,? said the monster, ?may I watch you eat your supper?? ?You are master here,? Beauty said, quaking. ?No,? replied the Beast. ?You alone are mistress here. You have but to tell me to leave. If my presence disturbs you, I shall go immediately.?? (Beaumont 220) That is the transfer of power in the relationship. Beauty has the power and maintains that control throughout the rest of the story.
The change of power lies deeper in ?The Tiger?s Bride? as the act of the Beast trying to buy Beauty with his diamond tears shows that she has the control. Even when the Beast tries to capture the emotional power in the relationship by releasing a single tear in an effort of make Beauty feel bad and submit to his wish, Beauty is able to maintain her composure and position on the issue to seal her power over the Beast. Beauty, even being held captive and bound by her honor, scared the valet, controlled the master of the house and consequently proved her dominance. In the end of the story Beauty is raised to the same rank and position of the beast when she became a creature like him. She became even more dominant in that action when she gained more seniority. Through the Beast?s submission to Beauty?s continual growth and control, Beauty in each story takes up the reigns and controls how fast the relationship continued.
Because Beauty submits to the overall control of the Beast, she is able to control the emotional and physical steps taken in the relationship built between Beast and woman. She knew that her life really wasn?t hers, but she also knew that there were limitations to how much the Beast could control her. She controlled the emotional ties and allowed things on her terms when she was ready. Beauty gained her own freedom through that control. She became the master in the master/slave relationship Zipes refers to. Beaumont and Carter were not pressing the idea of male domination over the women. They were imposing the idea of control through learning how to be dominant through submission by only pressing the important and critical issues.
In each story submission is addressed and it is repeatedly proven how intricate the idea of submission is. Beauty is not shown as a completely submissive woman; however, according to Zipes, Beauty is a completely submissive woman and that is what the whole story is about. Beauty often asserts her control and dominion over situations between Beauty, the Beast and Beauty?s father, and these situations dispute Zipes? conclusion. Beaumont, worked through their version of Beauty and the Beast to prove Beauty?s dominance. Carter was writing and reacting to Beaumont?s tale and through her reactions she support?s Beaumont?s stance on women and their roles in society. Throughout both stories Beauty?s dominance can not be denied, and Beauty proves that dominance can be achieved through submission.
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