Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ring Around the Rose: Of Themes

Here it is! The final Ring Around the Rose! I'm feeling a bit sad, aren't you?

What are your thoughts on the themes in Beauty and the Beast? And which version of Beauty and the Beast is your favorite?

Beauty and the Beast has always been a story very near and dear to my heart. No doubt like many others, my first introduction to the story was Disney's interpretation of the classic tale, which also happens to still be my favorite retelling. Disney did an incredible job adapting the story to the screen, making is accessible for modern audiences, and staying true to- while also rounding out- the themes in the original.

I could go on and on about the various themes and my thoughts on them, but for the sake of your eyeball health (staring at a screen too long is bad for you, ya know), I'm going to focus on the theme that has affected me the most and how it is incorporated into Esprit de la Rose (don't worry, there are no spoilers).

Being Different

Before Annabeth Chase, Katniss Everdeen, and Hermione Granger, there was Belle. As a bookish, curious, stubborn little six-year old, seeing one of the Disney princesses act like me was so comforting. At six, my feelings were, naturally, shallow. It was nice to see a Disney princess with brown hair. It was nice to see a Disney princess who liked horses. It was nice to see a Disney princess who preferred books over princes. But as I reached middle-school, I began to realize why Belle was truly comforting.

It was because she was different. She was different from the town's folks; they sing an entire musical number about it. She was different from Gaston, who attempts to force her into his idealized version of what women ought to be. She was even different from the Beast, but that's okay, because he actually respects the things that make her different.

Her differences eventually bring her a much better ending than the rest of the townsfolk- she falls in love with a man who respects and loves her, she continues to be herself, and she lives in a great big castle with a library.

Keeping this in mind, little twelve-year old me would smirk. Ha, I'd think. Belle was different and smart and she had an awesome ending to her story. Just wait and see what the people who bully me think when I have an awesome ending and they don't.

Then you grow up some more, and you discover something much deeper and darker concerning being different.

The fact that Belle was different caused the towns people to mock her. She was isolated and friendless. She had no one to talk to. Worse, narrow-minded thugs like Gaston grew determined to destroy the things that made her different.

The fact that Maurice was different caused the towns people to mock him. He was ridiculed and cruelly treated. The people laughed as he was thrust into an insane asylum wagon.

The fact that Beast was different caused people to fear and hate him. They spread rumors and lies about him based on his appearance. They stormed his home and attempted to kill him. They took advantage of his mercy and still tried to destroy him.

Yes, Belle's story ended happily. But being different comes at a very high price. Eventually, you have to take a moment and ponder if it is actually worth it. Is it better to live under the illusion of happiness at the expense of being yourself, or is it better to be yourself for the chance of being truly happy?

The answer seems obvious, but it actually took me a long time to consider it.

I've made the right choice.

Being different- physically, mentally, and emotionally- is a major theme of Esprit. It was great fun creating a cast of characters with many, many different backgrounds, beliefs, personalities, and quirks, then essentially thrusting them into the same situation. Then all I had to do was sit back and watch the fireworks. In a more serious vein, the main theme of Esprit is grace. Why is grace necessary? Because we are not all the same. Grace is necessary for moral issues, like broken trust or backstabbing. But it is also necessary for more petty issues; I think cats are obnoxious, you love cats and are a bit annoyed at my opinion. In the latter case, grace is necessary because differences are necessary.

The villains, the Fee, of Esprit strive to make everyone fit into their little box. They want to rip away the differences, be it a difference in opinion, physical attribute, situation, anything. They despise different people.

I've learned to accept being different. I've learned to enjoy being different. I hope my thoughts on this particular theme come out in Esprit de la Rose.

Thanks to everyone who participated in Ring Around the Rose! Be sure to check out Savannah's post on Tuesday!

(I'm sorry for posting this on Sunday instead of Monday. Ya see, I have college orientation on Monday so I would not have been able to post it then. And I have no clue how the heck the little "schedule post" thingy is supposed to work.)


  1. :) It's pretty simple to schedule a post. You just click on the "Schedule" option, and then pick a date and time and click "publish" or whatever, and your post goes live when you told it to.

    What a lovely post. I can't believe it's the last week of Ring Around the Rose. I cannot wait to read your story! Only 3 more weeks!!!

  2. Hope your college orientation went well!

  3. Beautiful post, Kaycee! I actually already had a slightly different post on B&tB themes scheduled for my author blog this week, so here's the link for that:

    Enjoy! ;)

  4. I really enjoyed this blog post. Truthfully, I am not a huge Beauty and the Beast fan. My first Disney movie was The Jungle Book, and I watched movies like Tarzan and Lion King before I ever saw any Disney Princess movies, my first of which was The Little Mermaid when I was 16.

    I have seen Beauty And the Beast, and I was not very impressed. To be truthful, the story always rather creeped me out. But I will say this, I do like Belle, and it is well that I should, since I always get her when I take the "What Disney Princess Are You" quizzes.

    I really enjoyed your post however, you pulled out some threads that are woven with more subtlety throughout the story. And I love that you mentioned the fact that everyone freaks out over others being different, to the point where they are on a witch hunt. There is this rabid fear that seems to rise up in humans sometimes, turning them into absolute monsters, which I find very disturbing and frightening.

    Thanks for sharing.