What are the differences between Disney's The Beauty and the Beast and the corresponding tale, "Beauty and the Beast" by Mme. Leprince de Beaumont?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many differences between Disney's film Beauty and the Beast, and "Beauty and the Beast" by Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont.

The central focus of the plot is a kind-hearted "beauty" who is able to see beyond appearances and learn to love without consideration of good looks, but based on value from within. This is the same in both versions. In addition, in each version, the father innocently offends the Beast and is given a choice to pay for his offense, unless someone else will take his place. Also in both versions, his lovely daughter insists that she will sacrifice her happiness, even her life, for her father.  Both stories have a magic mirror, and in each, the beast suffers—loses his desire to live—when he believes that the "beauty" has forsaken him. The young woman (the "beauty") in each story saves the beast. Both tales have "a happy ending."

In Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont's version, Beauty's father is at one point a very wealthy merchant and loses everything. He has three sons and three daughters. His youngest daughter, nicknamed "Beauty" is as lovely on the outside as on the inside:

The good merchant…knew very well that Beauty outshone her sisters, in her person as well as her mind, and admired her humility and industry, but above all her humility and patience; for her sisters not only left her all the work of the house to do, but insulted her every moment.

In both versions, the Beast is aggressive at the beginning with the beauty's father, however, in this story Beast does not growl at the girl as he does in the film. In fact, he is humble about his intelligence and tries not to intrude upon Beauty. Another difference is that from the very first night in Beauty's new home, Beast asks Beauty to marry him. She is, always, very honest with him, telling him that she cannot. In both versions, the young woman is kind and selfless. Each grows to care about Beast.

This version does not have another man chasing Beauty; the greatest conflict comes from the sisters who are jealous of Beauty and would just as soon see the Beast eat her alive.

"Sister," said the oldest, "a thought just strikes my mind; let us endeavor to detain her...and perhaps the silly monster will be so enraged at her...that he will devour her."

In Disney's version, the story begins when a young and unkind prince is mean to an old woman. She places a curse upon him that cannot be lifted unless someone falls in love with him. He is given only a set amount of time to achieve this end: until the last petal falls from the enchanted rose in his possession.

There is also a beautiful girl—she is named Belle. She has no siblings, and her father was never a wealthy man. In this version, the father (Maurice) tells the town of the beast, but no one believes him. Gaston is a conceited ego-maniac who wants Belle to marry him because he is the most handsome man around—he doesn't love Belle. When Gaston realizes that there is a beast and Belle cares for him, he jealously encourages the townspeople to attack the beast and his castle. Beast tries to show Gaston mercy when he defeats him in battle, but Gaston dishonorably stabs Beast in the back, falling to his death in the struggle. The beast seems to die, but when Belle tells him that she loves him, the spell is broken: Beast rises into the air and is transformed into a handsome prince he was before. The spell on his castle and servants is also broken.

Again, a happy ending follows.