Last week I went and saw the live action version of Beauty and the Beast. Now it’s a musical so there was only so much I was ever going to be able to enjoy it, BUT I did get one very important bit of life advice out of it.
I couldn’t believe that I’d never noticed it before but the story is essentially a Beast utilising his library to give himself a bit of sex appeal. Books are pretty brilliant like that, its just an easy kind of collection to sex up – I would love to see the Beast try the same tactic using a less enticing collection like stamps, or train sets.
In fact I have a confession, studying publishing and owning a shit ton of books has all been one big ruse to appear hotter – I actually hate books and can’t read you fools muh-hahahaha!!!!!
Anyway, on that note, I want to talk about the consequences of vanity, or even just being too pretty, that have come up in classic literature.
Remedios the Beauty (One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1967)
Up until this point I’ve really wanted to write something on One Hundred Years of Solitude, but I just love that book so much that every idea I’ve had for it just doesn’t seem like it’s going to do it justice.
As One Hundred Years of Solitude belongs to the magic realism genre, a lot of odd shit happens in it and often its hard to keep track because things are constantly happening and majority of the male characters have similar or even the same names.
The narrative is all tied to the history of the Buendía family and the isolated village of Macondo. Remedios the beauty is a minor character who belongs to the second generation of Buendías.
Her beauty has such a strong power over men that it leads to accidental deaths of those who are trying to watch her. She is angelic and lucid to the extreme however; she has no self-awareness and cannot take basic care of herself. Her brief appearance ends when suddenly without warning, she literally transcends up to the sky.
Dorian Gray (A Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890)
You all know this story. It’s just such an incredible metaphor – the idea of a physically seeing the moral character of your soul.
This was Oscar Wilde’s only novel, and it centres around pretty boy Dorian Gray. What happens is that when Dorian is an innocent, un-corrupted youth, he sits for portrait painted by an artist, Basil Hallward, who is obsessed with his beauty.
After months of work Dorian finally sees the completed portrait – and its the first time it dawns on him that he’s really actually attractive. In that moment Dorian is bitter that he will have to grow old, and wishes that the portrait could take his place (the book’s very much like a late-Victorian era style Freaky Friday).
Dorian then later begins to notice that the portrait changes and becomes uglier the crueller he acts. He is blessed with eternal beauty but this horrible painting sits hidden in the attic revealing his true nature.
Narcissus (Metamorphoses, 8 ADish)
In the story of Echo and Narcissus, the beautiful youth Narcissus sees his own reflection as he’s getting water by a stream, and not realising that its just a reflection he falls madly in love with it – we’ve all been there right guys?
The Oval Portrait (Tales of Mystery & Imagination, 1842)
This is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. What happen is, for weeks an artist is so enthralled with his painting and obsessed with capturing the “rare beauty” of his wife, who is sitting for him, that he doesn’t notice that she has died during the portraits creation.