Saying Farewell, and Announcing a New Endeavor

By Casey Wilson

As the above headline might suggest, the time has come to say goodbye to Kid Lit at UF. It has been a fun few years writing and editing for this blog, but other projects make their demands and so Kid Lit at UF will fade gracefully into the background.

But never fear! We are not abandoning you altogether. If you enjoy the kinds of content we have been publishing here, then you will most definitely want to check out Swampish, the new official blog for the Center for Children’s Literature and Culture here at UF. My colleague (and contributor to this blog!) Mariko Turk has been working hard on getting it off the ground, and I know there is lots of good stuff to come in the weeks and months ahead. You’ll see plenty of familiar names crop up over there — mine included — and maybe even some rerun content from this site. I do hope you’ll join us on that transition.

Casey is a PhD candidate who looks forward to writing for Swampish!

Categories: Administrivia

Winnie-the-Pooh: Christopher Robinson’s Toys

The first of today’s guest entries from Rebekah Fitzsimmons’s “Golden Age of Children’s Literature” course comes from Christina Paik, who gives us a little insight into some very familiar personalities.

By Christina Paik

In the children’s classic The World of Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne created a vast array of characters based directly off his own son’s childhood toys. These toys take on their own characteristic traits in the story that differ from previous works that we’ve read.

Each of the toys, which are animals in Hundred Acre Wood, have personalities that are extremely centered on one direct trait. A study published by the Canadian Medical Journal took these characters and analyzed them according to standards in the DSM-IV and noted that their personalities could notably relate to mental disorders.

Toy disorders

According to DSM-IV criteria by this study, Christopher Robin could be considered schizophrenic because he imagines that his childhood toys are living and can talk. Pooh bear has an eating disorder and obessed with honey, which has led to obesity. Piglet has anxiety, which is demonstrated in his fear of everything. Eeyore has depression and Tigger has ADHD. Owl is dyslexic.  These are all very interesting connections that individuals have made about this story.

Whether it’s fictional or factual, such connections made about this story only show that the story of Winnie-the-Pooh have endured the test of time and become an interest to the minds of both children and adults. People have been influenced by these characters because of their ability to relate to real human traits. Unlike the perfect children of Five Children and It, the egotism of Owl and the impulsiveness of Roo and Tigger are all characteristics that children show in their everyday lives. When these children grow and become adults, they remember how they related to certain characters in this story and still feel a sense of nostalgia that sometimes appears in collections of Winnie-the-Pooh paraphernalia or tattoos.

This makes The World of Winnie-the-Pooh not only a part of the classical editions to children’s literature, but also a part of the sentimental canon. Its story and all of its adaptations still continue to be relevant today. As for the “mental disorders” shown by the characters of this story, we can only guess whether or not these statements are true. However, the truth is that Winnie-the-Pooh is a character loved by many even today.

Christina is an undergraduate at the University of Florida.

Categories: Critical Conversations, Undergraduate Guest Posts

Everyone Grows Up Eventually-Or Do They?

The second of today’s guest entries from Rebekah Fitzsimmons’s “Golden Age of Children’s Literature” course comes from Kevin Griffin, who looks at a possible reason behind Barrie’s most well-known theme.

By Kevin Griffin

J. M. Barrie is an individual whose childhood did not end with the progression of his age or rather, arguably, ever.  Like the character of Peter Pan, he attempted to live a very whimsical life seemingly unscathed by the harsh realities of the world around him.  He tried to appear as if he was never consumed by many of the qualities of adulthood and viewed many of life’s greatest complexities in the same way that a young child would.  This could explain why his marriage to his wife reportedly persisted unconsummated or why he developed such a strong, playful relationship with the Llewelyn Davies boys.  Aside from the belief that Barrie could have written many of his stories for children, I believe that a stronger argument can be made that he was expressing his own inner desires to live the life of Peter Pan in both Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and later Peter and Wendy.  This could explain why the themes of endless childhood and escape persist so strongly throughout his stories.

Barrie

J. M. Barrie playing “Neverland” with Michael Llewelyn Davies

Barrie’s childhood life could be considered to be extremely traumatic by many.  His brother, David, the favorite of his mother, died at a young age, which reportedly affected him so greatly that he became a victim of psychogenic dwarfism—a disorder which could have accounted for his small stature for the rest of his life.  Barrie reportedly attempted on numerous occasions to fill the void in his mother’s life that was created by David’s death to partial avail.  The theme of being replaced or not truly prized by his mother can be seen in one of Peter’s returns home from Kensington Gardens in Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens when he uses a wish to go home only to find that his mother has given birth to another boy that she can love in his absence.  However, I believe that the trauma of a life not fully recognized by his mother may have been what was truly too hard to handle perhaps even more so than his own brother’s death.  The character Peter Pan is first introduced as an infant who escapes from his home on an adventure to Kensington Gardens, a place filled with magic and fantasy.  As a reader, I believe that this portrays Barrie’s desire to escape to the Kensington Gardens and, later, Neverland that he described in his books—an opportunity to live a magical and forever-childlike life away from the problems associated with reality.

Kevin is an undergraduate at the University of Florida.

Categories: Critical Conversations, Undergraduate Guest Posts

Alice Lost in Wonderland

The last of our guest entries from Rebekah Fitzsimmons’s “Golden Age of Children’s Literature” course comes from Nicole Georges, who takes us back to Wonderland one last time to ask questions about identity, childhood, and adulthood.

By Nicole Georges

Charles Dodgson, or better known as Lewis Carroll, was a man who never quite grew up from his childlike mindset. Literary sources tell us that he was constantly entertaining children and enjoyed spending time with their uncultivated and inspired minds that saw no bounds or limits. In his tale Alice in Wonderland, he created a literary world full of nonsense and imagination that is parallel to the mind of a child. From the very first scene where Alice is with the Rabbit, Carroll transports his readers to a state of idyllic childhood innocence, where nothing has to be explained, just accepted to be true. Much like the mindset of a child, children do not always understand why things are happening the way they are, but they accept them as undeniable truths because they have no reason not to. They have a trust for society inherently, just as Alice accepts the abnormalities of Wonderland.

Carroll has created the childlike playground of Wonderland to comment on the loss of childhood innocence, for Alice’s lack of identity is a direct juxtaposition to highlight the knowing from the unknown. The structure of Carroll’s story is reminiscent to the mind of a child; it is divergent, not structured, and accepts the idea of the absurd. Unlike other fairy-tales of the period, this book appeals to the mind of the child, rather than the adult. Roni Natov, author of The Persistence of Alice, shows how Carroll uses Alice as not only a motif for coming into adulthood, but also as a metaphor for society as she is described with a  “need to define, limit, control the chaos of so many of the Wonderland situations”, which can translate to the rigid societal rules that govern our own behaviors as adults (Natov, 55). There is an “overriding concern… about adolescent preooccupation with identity” in Carroll’s piece that translates with the innocence of children and the transition to adulthood because Alice concerns most of her thoughts with understanding who she is and what she knows (Natov, 55). She has no clear sense of her identity throughout the entire story; she finds it difficult to characterize herself to others, especially when she comes in contact with the caterpillar.  As he questions who she is, she “hardly know[s]” for all she can think of is that she “knew who [she] was when [she] got up this morning, but [she] think[s] [she] must have been changed several times since then” (Carroll, 41).

This story serves as an expression of self-discovery; what it is like to have the mindset of a child, yet the social responsibility of an adult. It causes me to wonder if this is a similar dichotomy that Carroll also felt—the pressure to grow up, when it made so much more sense to stay in the adolescent and youthful mind frame of a child. I hope that it is as Carroll said, that as adults we still are able to “find a pleasure in all [our] simple joys, remembering [our] own child-life, and the happy summer days” for those are the times when the world just seemed to make more sense (Carroll, 110).

Nicole is an undergraduate at the University of Florida.

Categories: Critical Conversations, Undergraduate Guest Posts

Character Analysis: The Psammead from Five Children and It

The second of today’s guest entries from Rebekah Fitzsimmons’s “Golden Age of Children’s Literature” course comes from Daniel Kamauf, who discusses the importance of this grotesque little creature.

By Daniel Kamauf

Psammead

The Psammead, in my opinion, is the most fascinating character among the texts of Children’s Literature that I’ve read. It is the main character, without question, from Five Children and It. It is depicted as a very grotesque looking character, but through the monstrous appearance there is an amalgamation of nuances that add to the interesting nature of the Psammead. It is described to have eyes like a snail, ears like a bat, a body like a spider, hands and feet like a monkey, and whiskers like a rat. All these descriptions make me think that the Psammead has unparalleled senses, specifically sight, sound, and touch, and this unique trait adds to the unworldly persona of the Psammead. The fact that this is the only Psammead left in existence speaks to the special opportunity that the five children experience. The Psammead has distant memories of events that have long transpired, but can remember them with proficiency. This truly is a sentient beast to a high extreme. In the very beginning of the book, it is told that Psammead is used to granting wishes that are mundane and boring, but the wishes that the children ask the Psammead for are too unfamiliar and too fantastic, that the old standard of wishes being set to stone if unused after a day no longer applies.

Wish

The Psammead interacts with the children through a series of wishes, which it grants. The children ask to be beautiful, to be rich, to have wings, to be allowed in the castle, and to give a wealthy woman’s jewelry to their mother. All of these wishes are materialistic and only cause a degradation of self because they are all complacent wishes, which I believe is why they all cause something to go wrong with each wish. The Pssamead is sort of like a theological or supernatural entity that answers prayers, as it were, but for some unusual reason is portrayed as an ugly, grotesque monster instead of a seraphic being. The Psammead tires of their wishes, and tells them no longer to ask for any more wishes, but the Psammead tells Anthea that the wish she had of all the children being able to see it again will be granted. This wish is granted most likely because it is selfless and is in some sense directed toward the Psammead, causing it to feel appreciated and loved.

Without the Psammead in the text, the story would be utterly nonsensical and without a cohesive plot. The Psammead is the very central character of this story. It is the nucleus of the cell that is the entire text. Without its ability to grant wishes, the children would not have had the adventures that they did, and would not have grown as individuals.

Children

Daniel is an undergraduate at the University of Florida.

Categories: Critical Conversations, Undergraduate Guest Posts

Search for Identity in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

The first of today’s guest entries from Rebekah Fitzsimmons’s “Golden Age of Children’s Literature” course comes from Shanequa Conage, who tells us about the trouble of identity in a nonsense world.

By Shanequa Conage

In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice’s identity is constantly shifting, in the novel she always seems to be questioning her identity and admits that she is uncertain about who she really is. Several times she is ordered to identify herself by the creatures she meets, but she has doubts about her identity as well.

In the beginning of the novel, Alice believes that she must be someone else because her original sense of self is disturbed. Alice believes that she must be Mabel, this is someone that she finds dreadful and ignorant. Later on, the Rabbit mistakes her for his maid Mary Ann. Then the Caterpillar asks her who she is and she is unable to answer because she feels that she changed several times since that morning, “I-I hardly know, Sir, just at present-at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then” (83-84). Alice uses the phrase, “I must have been changed” instead of “I changed” which shows her loss of control over her identity. All of these occasions of false identity makes Alice feel doubt about her personality, so she decides to stay in the rabbit hole until someone is able to tell her who she is. Among other things, this doubt about her identity is further nourished by her physical appearance. Alice grows and shrinks several times and she finds this very confusing.

As the novel progresses Alice does not find herself in adventures, instead she starts to learn what her identity does not include. Alice argues with the characters in order to cope with her surroundings, she tells them that she is not mad and that she does not have to follow the rules of the king and queen. She eventually comes to understand the creatures that live in Wonderland and even learns some new things. From Cheshire Cat she learns that “everyone is mad here.” She also learns to cope with the crazy rules of Wonderland and this helps her to better manage the situations in the Wonderland, even the situations that have to do with her identity. At the end of the novel, Alice has adapted and lost most of the vivid imagination that comes with childhood. In this search for her identity, she becomes too mature to stay in Wonderland, the world of children, and wakes up into the world of adults. Alice represents the child’s struggle to survive in the confusing world of adults and in order to do this she had to overcome the open-mindedness of childhood.

Shanequa is an undergraduate at the University of Florida.

Categories: Critical Conversations, Undergraduate Guest Posts

The Tiger’s Bride

The second of today’s guest entries from Rebekah Fitzsimmons’s “Golden Age of Children’s Literature” course comes from Sarah Clow, who looks at one spin on the tale of a beauty and her beast.

By Sarah Clow

“He dragged himself closer and closer to me, until I felt the harsh velvet of his head against my hand, then a tongue, abrasive as sand paper. ‘He will lick the skin off me!’ And each stroke of his tongue ripped off skin after successive skin, all the skins of a life in the world, and left behind a nascent patina of shining hairs. My earrings turned back to water and trickled down my shoulders; I shrugged the drops off my beautiful fur,” (Carter, 66).

In the classic story of Beauty and the Beast, by Jeanne-Marie Leprince De Beaumont, the innocent and virtuous Beauty falls in love with the Beast for his kind nature, in spite of his beastly appearance. As a result, the beast’s curse is lifted and he transforms into a handsome prince. In the case of Angela Carter’s “The Tiger’s Bride”, however, the Beauty not only gives up her innocence, by showing her naked body to the Beast, but the Beast is a swindler who won the Beauty in a gamble with her father. In the woods, when the main character sees the Beast, a tiger, shed his disguise and reveal his true form, she expresses feeling as if her chest ‘ripped apart,’ (Carter, 63).

Here, for the first time, the Beauty appears to show sexual attraction to the Beast, rather than mere love for his character. She is tantalized by his beastly form, not in spite of it. Upon shedding her clothes, and bearing her nakedness for the first time, the Beauty experiences a sense of freedom, the shedding of social constraint and expectation to clothe oneself and restrict oneself within a certain form. She essentially sheds the disguise that society forces oneself to wear, to be chaste and virtuous, to appear acceptable.

Tiger

At the end of the tale, the girl is allowed to return to her father, having done her deed and paid her father’s debts. The girl decides to remain in the Beast’s estate, however, and sheds her clothes, walking naked into the Beast’s room. Here, instead of the Beast transforming into a human, the Beauty’s human flesh is shed for that of a fur coat, as she transforms into a beast, herself. At this moment, is it as if Angela Carter is expressing that humans are in fact the beasts, and the purity we seek can only be found in the animal kingdom. Not only are there no social constraints in the animal kingdom, but the act of sexual attraction and action are simply natural, and necessary, rather than seen as something to restrict or deny, especially in the case of an unmarried young woman. By shedding the form of humanity, the Beauty and the Beast are able to be truly free, without any need for virtue, charm, or civility. They have instead returned to the purity and beauty that is nature.

Source: Carter, Angela. “The Tiger’s Bride.” The Classic Fairy Tales: Texts, Criticism. Tartar, Maria. New York: Norton, 1999. 63, 66. Print.

Sarah is an undergraduate at the University of Florida.

Categories: Critical Conversations, Undergraduate Guest Posts

Theme in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh

The first of today’s guest entries from Rebekah Fitzsimmons’s “Golden Age of Children’s Literature” course comes from Megan Pak, who digs into the meaning of Milne’s stories.

By Megan Pak

A.A. Milne’s poems and stories were greatly influenced by his wife Daphne and his son Christopher Robin.  The most obvious influence, however, came from Christopher Robin’s stuffed animal toys that he had as a child.  The toys took the form of animal characters in Milne’s Pooh stories: Tigger, Eeyore, Kanga, Piglet, and, of course Winnie-the-Pooh, also known as Edward Bear.  The picture below shows Christopher Robin’s actual toys that influenced his father.  These toys are held in a display at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in New York.

Toys

All of the animals in the Pooh stories are different in their own ways, not only because they are different animals biologically, but they also have different personalities.  The differences among the animals are highlighted throughout the novel by repetition.  When Eeyore loses his tail, Pooh offers to help him find it.  To this nice gesture, Eeyore expresses his gratitude and explains that he is a good friend while others are not (Milne 49).  Pooh sees Kanga and wishes that he could jump like her.  To this, he says, “Some can and some can’t.  That’s how it is” (Milne 106).  When Pooh takes Tigger to Piglet’s house, Pooh briefly warns him to not be bouncy because Piglet is a small animal who does not like bouncing (Milne 200).  Then, Pooh and Piglet take Tigger to see Eeyore, and Piglet warns him to not take much to mind of Eeyore because he is always “gloomy” (Milne 205).  Each of the animal characters is different and they are all aware of their differences.  The idea that “some can” and “some can’t” is repeated throughout the novel, thus portraying the differences among each character.

It seems that Milne repeats this motif because he wants to inform children that everyone is different.  All people should be accepted for who they are, even if they think others are different, or in Pooh’s case, a “Strange Animal.”  However, I also believe that Milne repeats this moral to prepare the young readers for the most important moral at the end of the novel:  every child will grow up.  Christopher Robin, the only non-animal character in the novel, leaves the fantasy-imaginary-like Hundred Acre Wood for school, which represents “reality.”  Christopher Robin, a human child, leaves behind the animals, which are symbolic of his toys, representing his leave of childhood.  He represents the child who grows up and moves on, unlike his animal friends who cannot change or grow up; they are static characters, as the toys are inanimate objects.  The difference between the animal toy characters and a human character is highlighted as Christopher Robin leaves, portraying the moral of growing up.

These motifs enhance the overall understanding of Milne’s message.  Young readers are taught that everyone has to grow out of their childlike ways where imagination, egotism, narcissism, friendship, and adventure exist.  Along with this rather sad moral, he also presents some positivity.  Milne gives the children hope that Christopher Robin and Pooh will be reunited and that their friendship will remain intact.  They promise each other that they will not forget one another and that they will visit each other (Milne 361).  For the adult audience, Milne reminds us that there is still a child within each one of us with the last quote of the novel: “But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing” (Milne 362).  Milne reminds the adult audiences that no matter what happens or how old we get, we are still young at heart.

Pooh

Megan is an undergraduate at the University of Florida.

Categories: Critical Conversations, Undergraduate Guest Posts

Language, Nonsense, and Wonderland

The second of today’s guest entries from Rebekah Fitzsimmons’s “Golden Age of Children’s Literature” course comes from Brittany Fining, who examines the importance of language in Carrol’s classic tale.

By Brittany Fining

In “The Language of Nonsense in Alice, by Jacqueline Flescher, nonsense is said to bear the brand of paradox – “the two terms of the paradox [being] order and disorder” (Flescher 128). She determines that nonsense must be upheld by a foundation of a intentionally structured form, that nonsense cannot be considered such standing alone, but only when distinguished by its departure from the original foundation of order it had been built upon. Though there are ways nonsense can be systematized, two in particular that Flescher notes, the above notion seems to predominantly ring true. I find this extremely interesting, as the method of defining the meaning of nonsense seems synonymous to defining meaning in language.

Language only has meaning in the context of a pre-existing structure of rules and agreements. Literary language can be considered utterance, because it is not occurring within a “real” life context to give it a foundation. Thus, it is given meaning through its relationship to other words within the system of the text, not from some inherent force.

To look at a really basic example, pronouns used in daily conversation are given meaning due to the context and environment of said conversation. Pronouns in written literary language, such as a poem, are only given meaning due to their relationship with other words in the text, and sometimes not at all. Let us look at an example:

Invitation-shel-silverstein-8610209-353-450

In this poem, the author, Shel Silverstein, addresses, “you.” Is “you” the individual reader? A specific other person? The larger audience? There is no way to know whom exactly “you” is addressing, because the meaning of this word is not inherent. We can only assume what “you” can be in that it clearly is not “he,” “she,” “it,” “I,” etc.

Homophones provide another example. In conversation, the words “cell” and “sell” sound the same, and one perceives the word’s meaning through the context of the conversation without ever thinking of which spelling is implied. Without a context though, these two words would both just be utterances, with no inherent meaning attached to either spelling – the words only mean something because we have prescribed a meaning to them through context and intertextuality.

In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice seems to be walking through a world of nonsense. However, her perception of the characters and events that surround her throughout the story are mediated by the “norm” that her entire existence to date had been built upon. For example, Alice encounters an interesting series of events during the Knave’s court proceedings, as he was accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts. One of these events occurs when the Queen orders to jury to hold off on delivering the verdict until a sentence has been decided upon. Alice declares this to be nonsense, not because it is entirely illogical, but because it is the opposite of the way that she has learned that a trial should develop.

Rountree 480 enhanced

The other characters, too, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland struggle with encounters with nonsense when they meet Alice, and they respond to them in much the same way that Alice does. On one occasion, Alice grows so tall that a Pigeon refuses to believe that she is a young girl. Due to her long neck and her penchant for eating eggs, the Pigeon decides that she must surely be a serpent, as it has never seen or heard of a young girl that eats eggs or has such a long neck. Unable to explain away her long neck, Alice focuses on the egg eating and tries to explain to the Pigeon that all little girls eat eggs. As a pigeon, whose experience has taught it that pigeon eggs must be protected from being eaten by serpents, the Pigeon decides that all little girls must then be a type of serpent. This clearly does not describe an absolute truth but what the Pigeon has learned is norm due to its experiences.

Alice recognizes Wonderland as “nonsense,” because she knows that it is not sense, or what she has learned that sense is. Norms are not inherent, just as meaning in language is not inherent. These are perceived through context, environment, intertextuality, a pre-determined set of codes and conventions and conditioning. Language in itself is essentially nonsense, maybe even more nonsensical than the Wonderland that Dodgson creates.

Brittany is an undergraduate at the University of Florida.

Categories: Critical Conversations, Undergraduate Guest Posts

Beauty and the Beast in Pop Culture

Today’s guest entry from Rebekah Fitzsimmons’s “Golden Age of Children’s Literature” course comes from Abigail Davis, who looks at how one fairy tale has permeated almost every corner of popular culture.

By Abigail Davis

A tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme. “Beauty and the Beast” does indeed seem to have been a part of human culture for hundreds of years, whether you’re looking at the ancient story of Cupid and Psyche or the beloved Disney film. But why has this story survived so long and in fact become an ingrained part of our culture? At its basis the story follows the path of having a lovely youth be taken into the possession of something Other. Then they are eventually married and depending on the version they either live happily ever after or the youth is in some way separated from their beloved. Not exactly a complicated plot but maybe its beauty lies in its simplicity. Every girl can imagine the horror of being forced to marry, or even just date, someone they don’t like and this lets the story become relatable by reflecting that fear and showing how it can be false. The story endears itself by allowing the readers to put themselves into the shoes of the beauty and have them overcome this fear alongside her. At least on one front this may explain the continued success of “Beauty and the Beast” but is it still portrayed this way in popular culture?

The most widely recognized version of Beauty and the Beast is by far the animated film by Disney. This film features a plucky young girl who’s longing for adventure is only matched by her love for reading. Belle, through a series of mishaps, seeks out her father at the Beast’s castle and trades away her life for his, keeping with Mme. de Beaumont’s version of “Beauty and the Beast”. There Belle and the Beast slowly build a friendship and, to the hopes of the cast of household furniture, the beginnings of love. Let’s be honest though, a guy gives you sweet library like that, what can you do?

 Library

Seriously, sign me up.

So they start crushing on each other a bit but then Belle is forced to leave to go to her sick father’s side. A few more mishaps occur to Belle, her father, and the Beast due to Disney’s addition of a villain, Gaston,  who is an arrogant man who was once spurned by Belle and now seeks to… kill the beast and win Belle’s hand? Get more horns for decorating purposes? Oh well, what’s a fairy tale without a good old fashioned villain? The Beast is stabbed by Gaston who then plummets to his death while Belle professes her love to the Beast. This love then saves him and allows him to transform back to human form. So Belle and the Prince formerly known as Beast are presumably married and live happily ever after.

“Beauty and the Beast” is also thriving on TV. The CW’s Beauty and the Beast is a crime drama where Beauty is a detective at the New York Police Department named Catherine and the beast is a soldier from Afghanistan named Vincent. Vincent is experimented on by the US government in their quest to create the super soldier. This experiment backfires and makes him beastly. You can find the trailer for this show here. Catherine witnessed her mother’s murder by criminals who then attempted to murder her but instead she is saved by what Catherine describes as a Beast. And so their relationship begins. Throughout the show’s first season Vincent and Catherine have a  tense relationship on the brink of romance while Catherine also solves crimes using the information Vincent gathers. The show doesn’t follow the classic Mme. de Beaumont’s version of “Beauty and the Beast” but it does involve a young beauty who looks past the monstrous qualities of a man to see his true self. As the show progresses it will be interesting how they continue to handle the fairy tale concept.

This story has also been retold numerous times in books, such as Beastly by Alex Flinn and Robin Mckinley has done multiple retellings titled Rose Daughter and Beauty.  Beastly tells “Beauty and the Beast” through the eyes of the Beast from his cursing to his salvation. Beastly was also adapted into a movie. Robin McKinley’s novels tell the tale in a very similar way to Mme. de Beaumont with some modification and elaboration. McKinley really fleshes out the characters and I appreciated that the two sisters were more than an evil plot device and instead were individual women with pride and imperfections. Also her version of Beauty was no longer an annoyingly perfect girl with more virtue than anyone person should have; she has a personality and ideas, no longer accepting her fate because that’s apparently how you prove your love in fairy tales. Personally I liked Rose Daughter the best of these three versions but they all provide an interesting take on the classic fairy tale.

 Beastly

Beastly by Alex Flinn

 McKinley

“Beauty and the Beast” is an extremely popular story that has been engraved on the hearts of hundreds and hundreds of people, whether it was their love for one of the original versions of the tale or that Belle and her Beast captured their hearts. It has been retold and re-imagined countless times. Here I barely even scratched the surface of influence in pop culture but it does give you some idea of how varied its reach is. I’ll leave you with the most recent reference to it that I can think of:  Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and the Beat”, a play on words that may not actually have anything to do with the fairy tale but I think it’s entertaining to see how these stories can be bent and changed to suit our society and culture.

Abigail is an undergraduate at the University of Florida.

Categories: Critical Conversations, Undergraduate Guest Posts

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