Gender Roles in Beauty and The Beast

Essay by bookish12College, UndergraduateB, November 2014

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Gender roles in "Beauty and the Beast"
   Gender roles have been ingrained in our society all throughout history. In Jeanne Marie Le Prince de Beaumont's short story Beauty and the Beast, the author presents each character as a reflection of their own genders. Dominance and submission are two specific gender identities that have been assigned to men and women respectively. Beaumont tackles the difference between men and women's roles in society with characters that encompass the stereotypical attitudes of both genders, ranging from female submissiveness to shallowness, as well as male power and dominance. 
   Throughout the story, the author suggests that beauty and wealth are two of the most prized possessions anyone can have. The beauty of the merchant's daughters' are emphasized in the beginning as the author describes them as "extremely handsome, especially the youngest." In comparison, the author does not write about the merchant's sons' physical appearance.
The emphases on the beauty the sisters possess signify how being attractive is stressed more on females than males. Despite having contrasting personalities, Beauty and her sisters portray two opposite personalities stereotypical of women: superficiality and being a homemaker. The author presents Beauty's sisters as being shallow and materialistic for "they went out every day to parties of pleasure, balls, plays, concerts, and so forth, and they laughed at their youngest sister, because she spent the greatest part of her time in reading good books." For Beauty's sisters, reading, a privilege mostly given to men of status, is a ridiculous past-time. The author depicts Beauty as special for her interests are not typical of women in that era. 
   As the story progresses, Beauty's family finds their selves in financial troubles forcing them to leave town. As the family adjusts to country life, the merchants' sons are described...