Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Question and answers, musings and thoughts...

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Zara
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Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by Zara »

:)

Well said.

Pat wrote:I agree wholeheartedly that Vincent beats, hands down, the Beast in this version of the fairy tale!


Not to diss several other worthy storybook Beasts I've encountered. Some storytellers give us equally compelling renditions of this fascinating character.

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The Creature There Has Never Been

Post by 222333 »

*
See: you did it again (and I am HAPPY you did, don’t get me wrong). You wrote so much, that I don’t know what to say, now. In my happiness, I’m pointing it out just because it’s interesting that we are speaking of need for silence and concise… what did you write, Zara? Let me see… quiet and concise speakers. These very conversations are evidence, to me, that perhaps it’s a problem of medium, voice, personal face-to-face relationship, rather of desire of talking. And it has to be addressed as such, I think. Or, at least, for me it is. Last night I had an important meeting, a few of us were asked by a dear friend to help him and his wife (I’m their best man) to make an important decision about a political involvement he’s been asked to consider. During that meeting, I was just able to blabber a few emotional and useless words. The day after, they each called me, and I flowed them with a lot of sensible and focused remarks. One to one, not in a group. I’m the same, the problem is the context. Do I need to be quiet and concise? No. Do I need the proper situation to express myself? Yes. Friends know me, and accept me as I am. It took a lot of time and love, though.

That said, let’s see if I can say something about Vincent the Beast.

Pat:
If this is the endpoint that Vincent waits for before committing his all to his relationship with Catherine, then I fear this may never happen.

*
No, why endpoint? Never endpoint. Vincent and Catherine, like all of us, are “proceeding”. With courage and with care, after a commitment that already took place, and is taking place again and again, slowly deepening. And they are something that has never been, their walk is harder and more uncertain than anyone else’s, they are aware of this (Vincent more than C, of course, he just has to look at his claws) but they go. You keep saying that they never talked, Pat. I look at these beautiful conversations they had and scratch my head. Of course, it’s again a matter of giving the proper name to the things. Does commitment mean sleeping together? For me, it doesn’t, just because if we look at the episodes, it might very well have occurred off camera, without changing *anything* of what we see. We do see disguised kisses scattered around (the PTB vetoing them for keeping the tension alive, and somehow slipping into anyway - WTBBS, Outsiders, The Watcher…), why not something more? That’s not the point. The point is that Vincent is a Beast, and there can never, ever be a Normal Romance between Vincent and Catherine. They will be forever in that borderland where they have to proceed with courage and care. That does not mean that what they are living is not fulfilling, or complete – again, they did have this beautiful, meaningful conversation about it. Twice.
Zara:
How can he explain to others what no one else can remotely understand even if (and when) he tries?

*
I don’t think that no one else can remotely understand Vincent. Not fully, but not remotely either. Also because he can’t fully understand himself either. Again, it’s a process, a slow process, and in the development of the episodes we see both Father and Catherine (and himself!) slowly gaining a better understanding, thanks to their love, thanks to the new challenges and situations. That’s the beauty of the series. Yes, of course – see above – Vincent is incomprehensible, the Creature There Has Never Been, impossible to be fully known, and again, all this will only be a neverending process: and such process is love, the truth *beyond* knowledge.
Zara
I just want to make sure that we are not treating Vincent's unique reality, aloneness included, quietude also included, like some kind of handicap that he does not know what to do with.

*
That’s the risk, a risk of which they are fully aware, a risk Vincent perfectly knows (and all of us ran, at some time of our lives), but it’s our problem, not Vincent’s. He is not afraid of being judged by the others (only by himself, but that’s another cup of tea). He addresses it in the Pilot – “their ignorance”, Catherine says – and he corrects him: their aloneness. Same in Brothers: we are mirrors, he tells to Charles. The point is always love. Love will show you what is behind uniqueness. Without it, even the most “normal”, regular, standard individual becomes alien.
Pat:
So perhaps, that is part of my dilemma. I keep trying to understand that which by its very nature is not very understandable, including people! :D No wonder I get so frustrated!

He stills seems to have a hunger to know what he is

And I don't need a lot of words, just a few more. Those primarily being reasons, or the 'whys' of something.

*
There is no answer to the “whys” of Vincent, period. So, what replies can he give? Only: love me, and your love will let you understand me. That’s valid not only for Vincent.
Pat:
I guess as a viewer, I would like to understand more

All my conversational heart desires is that he keep trying, perhaps in a few more words than is his norm.

Zara:
they develop their own lovers-language, which gives them a greater access to each other's thoughts and desires. It is the native tongue of their borderland between Above and Below.

*
Exactly. I think Catherine is much more understanding and willing to accept him than many fans, as well as aware of their unique situation. And, as viewers, we do have insights. We are talking of China Moon. Did you notice those two scenes, one after the other? In one, Lin asks Vincent to let Henry go Below. And Vincent is stiff and wary in his reply, utterly unsatisfying to Lin, I think. In the scene after, he talks to Father about that request, and he’s passionate and warm, his heart on his sleeve, I think you say in English. That’s Vincent. Context. But he is what he is, not what we want him to be.

Oh, speaking of which – precisely in China Moon, we hear those bitter words from Catherine:
V: Why does it sometimes seem as though the world conspires to keep lovers apart?
C: Or brings them together when it’s impossible?

What do you think Vincent may have felt in that moment? I can remember only two times in the episodes (not in intros or interviews or whatever) where it said that their love is impossible, this and in AHL. And both times it’s *Catherine* who says it. Vincent does feel all this. Why this is NEVER remembered when fans blame him for his hesitance?

S
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Re: The Creature there has never been...

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S wrote:I don’t think that no one else can remotely understand Vincent. Not fully, but not remotely either. Also because he can’t fully understand himself either. Again, it’s a process, a slow process, and in the development of the episodes we see both Father and Catherine (and himself!) slowly gaining a better understanding, thanks to their love, thanks to the new challenges and situations. That’s the beauty of the series. Yes, of course – see above – Vincent is incomprehensible, the Creature There Has Never Been, impossible to be fully known, and again, all this will only be a neverending process: and such process is love, the truth *beyond* knowledge.


Thank you especially for this. You are correct, and wise. Taking your thoughts into account, I think I could revise my notion to say: I get the sense that Vincent often*feels* that no one can understand him, particularly when others believe they do understand...but in fact they do not. I also think it is intelligent humility on Father's part to tell Catherine that he's not sure any of them can begin to understand what Vincent faces in his moment-by-moment struggle to be who he is to those he loves.

S wrote:There is no answer to the “whys” of Vincent, period. So, what replies can he give? Only: love me, and your love will let you understand me. That’s valid not only for Vincent.


Valid not only for Vincent, very very true. Yet his reply, as you have perfectly phrased it, is of special interest to the themes of the fairy tale...and the nature of the Beast.

If I may elaborate...

Here is a link to that rough little retelling I did a while back. "Beauty and the Beast," the source fairy tale.

In this fairy tale, the title lovers ask character-specific questions of each other. Beast: Will you love me (enough to wed me), Beauty? And Beauty: I know you love me, Beast, but do you love me enough to help me find my own freedom? Beauty initially answers the Beast with, "No." And Beast always answers Beauty's question with, "Yes." The story hinges on Beauty growing free enough and complete enough unto herself to change her mind and offer her breathtaking "Yes!"

And here is part of an ongoing discussion I am having with myself, that I peck at writing down now and then.

...There is what seems to me a peculiar and off-target approach common in B&B fandom which reverses the fairy tale scenario between Beast and Beauty. It is NOT a simple switch of genders, where the story offers a female Beast and a male Beauty (and which is itself a powerful mythic approach that carries important messages of its own). Rather, this particular off-target pitfall reverses the MOTIVATIONS of the original characters. In this reparsing of their relationship, Beauty asks, “Beast, will you love me?” And Beast says, “No, Beauty. No. I cannot.” Then Beast asks, “Will you grant me my freedom?” And Beauty says, “Yes, Beast. Yes. It is granted.”

The original lessons in Beauty and the Beast revolve around the main characters’ personal freedom to understand the depth of humanity that lies beneath outward appearances. Beauty learns to look beneath her superficial expectations to discover what is truly beautiful. Beast learns to grow beyond the limitations of his circumstances to embrace true freedom. Both lessons teach these characters (and their audience) things they each did not yet know about love. Together, they enact a graceful relationship of honesty and maturity, which is not free from conflict, yet permits the lovers to rise above their conflicts as they learn how to meet each other’s needs in a healthy, life-affirming way. These characters are true heroes in romantic and marital relations.

Reversing the needs of our hero and heroine warps the essential nature of their heroism. When the gentle male Beast whose soul asks for redeeming love meets the virtuous female Beauty whose soul asks for honorable liberation, they interact as equals in a caring relationship of reciprocal balance. But switch it around, and the balance fails. A Beauty who asks Beast to love her is making an empty request, for adoration and social acceptance are already her worldly due. She is "Beauty," after all. Some tellings even give her plenty of ordinary suitors in her father's world. So to ask for more love, especially of a physically irregular male character, however tactfully articulated, is an expression of vanity, and this demolishes Beauty’s inner virtue. A Beast who withholds his love from Beauty, especially when she presumably offers a way out of his enchanted captivity, is revealing an inner ugliness, a selfish masochism which cannot comprehend the transformative power of love. This alternate fan-created couple has traded respectful equality for miserable co-dependency.

You tell me. Is this self-seeking “Beauty”...Catherine? Is this self-flagellating “Beast”...Vincent?

The original fairy tale also turns our notions of imprisonment and freedom inside out. At first glance, it appears that Beauty is the prisoner, and Beast the imprisoning power. But in reality, it turns out that the Beast is the prisoner of his cursed state, while Beauty initially upholds his imprisonment with her own assumptions about him. By the end of the story, the characters have grown and changed so that Beast places himself completely at Beauty’s mercy, and Beauty becomes the liberator of all the characters in the story, including herself.

This juxtaposition strikes at the core of misogyny and male dominance in Western culture. It also speaks meaningfully to the issues of empowerment and hospitality. Beast’s choice to initiate a relationship with Beauty shows that he is a hopeful character, not a hapless prisoner of his fate, and that he is willing to take active risks to better his situation. What freedom he possesses, he exercises (just as with our Beast in Koslow's rendering). Beauty’s appearance in his life gives him a new and necessary means to exercise and expand his humanity. His conduct shows how much Beast values freedom. He upholds the ancient obligations between host and guest with both Beauty’s father and Beauty herself...but he also proves himself a generous host. He spares the life of an offending guest, offering a contract the offender may use to make reparations. And when Beauty arrives, he gives her everything that he has: his home, his respect, his company when she accepts it, and his absence when she does not. Any need or desire of his guest, he fulfills. Any refusal or withdrawal, he accepts and honors.

Beauty’s choice to fulfill the obligation that has resulted from her own dream of romance (often presented as her request for a blooming rose in winter) shows that she is a responsible character, not a naive or distressed damsel, and that she is someone who whole-heartedly keeps her promises. In the story, she loves her father, her family, and also her conscience. Her entrance into the Beast’s magic realm gives her a new and necessary means to exercise and expand her compassion beyond the dictates of duty. In the company of the Beast, Beauty learns how to love the unloveable creature...and she learns how to love herself, developing her interests and talents in an environment that encourages her holistic maturation.

The exchange empowers both of them. It is important to notice that the very thing each is silently asking to receive from the other is the very thing that each is giving to the other from the outset of their relationship. The Beauty who seeks freedom is freeing. The Beast who seeks love is loving. The offerings that each receives from the other gradually improve the inner integrity of Beast and Beauty as each character exercises his or her separate abilities to give, and to accept gifts, and to grow. The merchant-class woman practices a new-found freedom in the enchanted prince’s realm. The man-monster prince practices selfless love. Their practice culminates in the climactic centerpoint of the story, when the empowered Beauty finds herself free enough to come and go from the magic realm as she chooses...and the ennobled Beast finds himself loving enough to lay down his life that his beloved might be happy and whole.

This dynamic between genders, and between ideal and ordinary realms, was quietly revolutionary in its time. It remains positively subversive to this day. So it is, once again, that a switch of motivating need destroys the integrity of our heroes.

The old tale took deliberate care to avoid this outcome, because the enchantment inflicted upon the Beast forbade him to explain the nature of his captivity. He COULD NOT ask for freedom from the spell, for that was not the deeper nature of his problem. He could, however, seek acceptance and love. It was his responsibility to participate in a loving relationship without wallowing in his own misery (or in our tale, Vincent's aloneness). His loathsome exterior required him to develop a high quality of character in order to become someone worthy of a Beauty’s devotion.

In our televised fairy tale, the Beast’s physical curse is genetic and unalterable. The force that shuts him out of Beauty’s world is not an evil spell, but societal hatred for the Other. This Beast is the Ultimate Other, a creature with no rights whatsoever in Beauty’s world. He claims what freedom he can with secrecy and with courage.

In the midst of this reality, external freedom is something Beauty simply cannot give to Beast. A Beast who asks her, not to love him, but to set him free implies a self-centered, shortsighted Beast who has never mustered the hope to reach for freedom on his own behalf. This is a Beast who misunderstands the systemic (Topside-Down) evil that confines him, a Beast who is not afflicted with the painful effects of others' prejudices against him, but rather a Beast with personal problems of his own making, for which he is responsible (and also blameable). He equates freedom with "normalcy," and being without hope and without understanding he also cannot be like Vincent, our responsible champion of true freedom for the city’s outcasts among whom he lives.

Meanwhile, a Beauty who claims that she can grant personal freedom to the Beast is quite simply a liar. She can offer him approximations of an ordinary life, material comforts and pleasurable (if possessive) companionship, but such “freedom” is illusory. This illusion ignores, sometimes even mocks, the Beast’s Otherness, imposing upon him a new curse of false normality.

You tell me. Is this hopeless, helpless “Beast”...Vincent? Is this insipid, untruthful (or perhaps self-deceived) “Beauty”...Catherine?

S wrote:I can remember only two times in the episodes (not in intros or interviews or whatever) where it said that their love is impossible, this and in AHL. And both times it’s *Catherine* who says it. Vincent does feel all this. Why this is NEVER remembered when fans blame him for his hesitance?


For whatever reason (andI've been puzzling over it for months now), perhaps Vincent makes a good scapegoat/whipping boy/private toy for the revised fantasy that fandom cultivates? I don't get it either. And the prevalence of blame toward Vincent frustrates me so much! (Of course, don't get me started on Father-blame, ha ha. That drives me nuts too.)

Maybe folks believe that a certain form of "normal" = the ultimate good in the whole world, for all people in the world? Maybe folks are trying to "cure" Vincent of his "abnormality" so he can be as happy as they want to be themselves, in the same ways they want to be happy (luxurious Brownstone or other expensive housing in NYC, domestic bliss either Above or Below, ecstatic sex on demand, Beast telling Beauty in essence, "Oh, my love, you are so right about EVERYTHING and I was so completely wrong to oppose any of your ideas, ever! I vow to fulfill your every desire forevermore to make it up to you! I will no longer deprive you of the love you need as I have so self-centeredly done up until now, and I will no longer brood incessantly over my ever-so-low-self-esteem!" Etcetera, ad nauseam)? If this is so, it is a condescending Lady Bountiful approach that I cannot participate in myself.

Snarked,

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Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by 222333 »

*
You know, the risk exists to give too much attention and thought to the frustrating and driving nuts parts. That’s what they are: parts, not the whole. What is it that Tagore says? I know it in Italian - Se piangi di notte per il sole, le lacrime ti impediscono di vedere le stelle. More or less: Don’t cry when the sun is gone, or tears won’t let you see the stars. Please don’t get me wrong – it’s a real danger that for many the show may become “real”, a la Velveteen Rabbit, in a wrong way, sketchy and superficial. But it already happened in these 26 years, time and again, and nonetheless it’s still there, intact, for those who want to look at it. And in it, I find the real Beauty and the real Beast, no matter how many times I have been told that Catherine is a damsel in distress, or that Vincent basically is a dumb furry hulk unworthy of Superbeauty, or that Father disapproves of the couple. It’s not so, and I have my episodes, some precious friends, and the statistics of my websites to reassure me. And too little tunnel time, to be carefully used in something inspiring, not frustrating.

So, trying to comment what you wrote and drawing from the inspiration that is the very “magic” which makes this show special, I can say that perhaps there is a “detail” which is often forgotten, in my humble opinion, both in trying to interpret our show via the mythical schemes of the scholar or via the very justifiable need for entertainment of the typical viewer. It’s that Vincent and Catherine are in love. The show is about two people who love each other. Fictional, but SO credible. And love throws in the mix something “different”, not logic, not sensible from human or from storytelling point of view, because love, as Pascal (Blaise) would say, has its own reasons. Most fans are female, and identify themselves with Catherine. But they are *not* Catherine. They are not in love with Vincent. I think that the real Catherine would be appalled and outraged by many fans’ judgment about the man she loves. And vice versa Vincent too, of course. Some superficial – or just plainly absurd – remarks and approaches to the show and its characters are flawed by a Mary Sue syndrome focused on the viewer’s needs and desires, of which the viewer is very much aware because the viewer “exists” – while the other fictional character does not exist – and which of course are not connected, via love, to the other’s needs and desires, so that they are not lovingly accepted. So, such remarks and approaches are partial. Untrue? No, partial, because the fundamental ingredient of love can’t complete the magic, and I don’t see Vincent, or Catherine, I only see what I *want* from Vincent or Catherine. But the rest, love in its purest form at work to join what is unimaginable to join, if unseen by many, is not deleted, it’s still there for anyone to perceive and enjoy, and the frustration may even become the evidence – inspiring evidence – that relationships need it, need love, to be fulfilling, and that without it they are just an arid and incomprehensible score of who’s better at this or that.

S
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Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by sonnetcxxiii »

Jumpin' in!

I thought I had the forum set to email me when people posted...alas try again.

S: Vincent and Catherine, like all of us, are “proceeding”. With courage and with care, after a commitment that already took place, and is taking place again and again, slowly deepening. And they are something that has never been, their walk is harder and more uncertain than anyone else’s, they are aware of this (Vincent more than C, of course, he just has to look at his claws) but they go.


The spectrum of relationships. Maybe we can even call it a circle of relationships. In some ways, yes, they do have beginnings (when you find someone) and endings (divorce, death....maybe) and changes. I like the idea of preceding too. They wake up every day to love. They make the choice to over and over again. Perhaps that notion gets lost because seeing the inner workings and sometimes "boring" parts of relationships gets lost on TV. Is Love a one time event? Huh, that seems odd.

Pat: And I also think as a viewer/reader, when such gaps exist, we fill in the blanks for ourselves, and in doing so, may end up distorting the characterization unknowingly.


True. We can't help put our experiences on something and experience things through it. IMO, the best thing is to know when you are doing that and not fake objectivity haha. Maybe as viewers we like things to come in nice, neat packages so that we can easily understand them. This is when A started, this is when B happened, and it ended with C. It's the nature of the story format I guess. And maybe when we enjoy something so much, we want more in some form either just to enjoy it again, or because we want to experience all the nuance of being.

Zara: I get the sense that Vincent often*feels* that no one can understand him, particularly when others believe they do understand...but in fact they do not.


Understanding and Being, oh yes! I think on one level, Vincent is the only one that can understand Vincent because he's lived as him all his life. There has never been another option, there won't be. The daily being of it all can't be taught or transferred. I'm not saying Catherine or Father or anyone else can't understand or empathize, but maybe it's a matter of levels/abilities.

S: And love throws in the mix something “different”, not logic, not sensible from human or from storytelling point of view, because love, as Pascal (Blaise) would say, has its own reasons.


And there it is. LOVE. Something so universal, yet so individualized to each person who experiences it.
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Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by sonnetcxxiii »

Back to Mythology:

http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0425c.html

This might be interesting. Beauty and the Beast type stories have been told all over the world. It's a Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 425C (Enchanted Husband.)

Each ones has a different flavor. I'll have more on it as soon as I dive into them a bit more.
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Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by Zara »

I love Ashliman's listings. I'm on that site all the time.

Try this page too, in Piece of Eternity. A little reference zone I'm slowly building. ;)

And SurLaLune Fairy Tales is an amazing resource.

Do please let us know what you think of any/all of the Animal Bridegroom tales!

8)

~ Zara
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Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by sonnetcxxiii »

I’ve been skimming through some other versions of our tale. Pat, you did an awesome job on the characterizations! I looked at events, and here is what I found in almost all the versions:

The father (sometimes king, sometimes merchant) has three daughters, the youngest being the beauty in both personality and appearance.

He goes on a journey and the older daughters all want material finery (dresses, gold, jewels, shoes.)

Beauty wants either nothing or something from nature, a flower, leaf, twig, ect. (Odd side note, I always ask my dad to bring me back a rock when he travels. Huh…)

He finds the gift for the youngest daughter in a garden and takes it without thinking anyone would miss it.

The Beast makes the Father promise his youngest daughter (or the first thing that greets him on his arrival home) to him or the Father will die.

Father always bargains his daughter to the Beast to save his own life.

Now here’s where it gets interesting in the middle:

In some tales, the Father tries to trick the Beast with other women or items (3 times), but the Beast always realizes they are not what he was promised.

In other tales, there is more guilt and coercion with Beauty going with the Beast. In some she goes willingly, others there is guilt or duty, in others she is taken by force.

Beauty at the castle is given all the material things she needs. But she becomes lonely.

Then, her Father becomes ill and/or she misses her family and wishes to see them.

Beast lets her go visit them, but asks her to return in some specified amount of time. Beauty is delayed due to the Father’s illness or trickery by the sisters. When she returns the Beast is dead or dying from missing her.

Slightly different here:

Beauty must either follow a series of tasks, or consent to marry the Beast when he is in Beast form, or declare her love for him. Then once that happens, the enchantment is broken and he is human.

They live happily ever after, and in some tales, the sisters are punished (strange the Father was not.)

Now, some questions on all that in a few!
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Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by 222333 »

Emily said:
The spectrum of relationships. Maybe we can even call it a circle of relationships. In some ways, yes, they do have beginnings (when you find someone) and endings (divorce, death....maybe) and changes. I like the idea of preceding too. They wake up every day to love. They make the choice to over and over again. Perhaps that notion gets lost because seeing the inner workings and sometimes "boring" parts of relationships gets lost on TV. Is Love a one time event? Huh, that seems odd.

*
Beautifully said. Yes, they wake up every day to love. This is not valid only for Vincent and Catherine, nor for the romantic love only. Yes, a matter of choice. And no, Love is not a one time event. As the Petit Prince told to the Fox, the Rose must be lovingly cultivated to become “yours”. The extreme differences between Vincent and Catherine need extreme inner workings, symbolic of the “boring” parts of relationships which cannot be Disneyfied or ignored – and it’s not doing a good service to our couple to draw them in black and white. They ARE shades of gray, like all of us and more than all of us. For this they are inspiring.

Understanding and Being, oh yes! I think on one level, Vincent is the only one that can understand Vincent because he's lived as him all his life. There has never been another option, there won't be. The daily being of it all can't be taught or transferred. I'm not saying Catherine or Father or anyone else can't understand or empathize, but maybe it's a matter of levels/abilities.

*
Vincent said (in C’s dream): Catherine, I’m a part of you. What you see in me is the beauty in your heart. And the idea of mirror is a recurring theme when Vincent talks of himself. One of the main (and most beautiful, imo) layers of our series is the concept of dualism and therefore balance between opposite elements. It’s only in the loving eyes of someone else that I can see the part of myself which I am not aware of (Johari window). It’s a revelation, as that part is unknown to me, even if I perfectly know myself. Perhaps it’s unknown because it *exists* only in a relationship, but it’s not less real for this.

S
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Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by sonnetcxxiii »

S: The extreme differences between Vincent and Catherine need extreme inner workings, symbolic of the “boring” parts of relationships which cannot be Disneyfied or ignored – and it’s not doing a good service to our couple to draw them in black and white.


Exactly! :)

S: It’s only in the loving eyes of someone else that I can see the part of myself which I am not aware of (Johari window)


Oh my, I almost forgot about the Johari Window! Wow, I really shouldn't have sold all those interpersonal communication textbooks when I got out. I find myself needing to look back on them for reference. Guess Wiki will do for now: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johari_window
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Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by Maclurv »

It’s only in the loving eyes of someone else that I can see the part of myself which I am not aware of (Johari window). It’s a revelation, as that part is unknown to me, even if I perfectly know myself. Perhaps it’s unknown because it *exists* only in a relationship, but it’s not less real for this.


Profoundly stated. How we are together is different than alone or with another. So as much as we seek self-knowledge, it is incomplete taken solely alone. So how much our intrepid pair have learned about one another and themselves in light of this is an interesting question. We know Vincent saw the courage within Catherine she didn't know she had. Perhaps it is Vincent's humanity that she sees that he is unsure having?

Pat
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Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by sonnetcxxiii »

Three themes stand out to me from the events in the mythology:

Choices
Wealth
Promises


Choices- What kind of free choices do we have?

Mythology: Beauty's Father bargains for his life with hers. She bears the burden of his actions and is left to the Beast. This is the worst fate possible. Secluded from society, friends, family, living with a "monster." Because she is the honorable daughter, she goes to the castle.

B&B: Catherine's Father has very specific ideas about her and her life. She tries her best to live out those plans. She bears the burden of it, of pleasing him, and in a way, ends up with a "beast" life that isn't fulfilling. She's secluded from herself and happiness. And like Beauty in the mythology, she loves her Father and wants to do right by him.

Wealth- What is the most important kind of wealth?

Mythology: Everyone else in Beauty's family seems to want their wealth back. Fine things don't interest Beauty. And even when she has everything material she could desire by going with the Beast, it's still people that come first. Her ill father, or the Beast when he is dying.

B&B: Catherine has every material comfort already. But it still doesn't seem to interest her either. She'd rather talk to an old friend going through a tough time rather than socialize with high society. Tom treated her like his wealth, wanting to parade her around at that party. And when she was attacked and brought Below, she briefly lived without her material wealth, and in so, gained the relationship wealth she was so desiring.

Promises - Keeping your word.

Mythology: Beauty fulfills her Father's promise to the Beast. She promises to return to the Beast after visiting her family. And while she can't keep that one in the time frame the Beast asked, she doesn't try to get out of it like her Father did, but rushes back and saves him. Almost losing him, she realizes how much she loves him. She goes from being the pawn in someone else's promise to making her own.

B&B: Catherine promises to keep Below a secret. She's not guilted into it, or a bargaining chip from someone else's promise, but does this freely herself. Vincent has promises too, to his world. And it's not without risk or challenge. They could save themselves a lot of turmoil by "backing out" of the promise so to speak; forgetting Below, the Dream, their love. But in the end, Catherine rushes back and they chose love.

Hundreds of years separate these two versions of the tale, yet I think Koslow hit the essence of it right on the mark. Both Catherine and Vincent have choices, some limited, some not. How they deal with them is important. They both have different kinds of wealth, and each bring the other something they lack. Catherine's money can help in so many ways, and so can the social wealth of Vincent and his community. I think what's refreshing is that each type of wealth has some pros and cons, because it's how they are used. Money can cause a "fever" or provide, the community can be a sanctuary or a tomb. And finally, keeping promises is hard, but important. The secret of Below and the reality Catherine and Vincent's world's isn't a perfect fairy tale. The promises they make to each other, to others they love, and to their communities are not easy to keep. And even if they falter, their hearts are in the right place, always trying to do better.
Maclurv
Posts: 412
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by Maclurv »

Interesting summary!

Had a random thought pop into mind as I read your response. You spoke of isolation as Beauty found herself secluded in the Beast's castle. She is also isolated in that she is the only one of the story to make the honorable choices, view wealth in perspective, and honor and keep promises. One among how many in the story? Why is it that the numbers of those who possess those characteristics are seemingly so few?

Perhaps what makes Vincent so rare is not his countenance, his enhanced strength and abilities. Perhaps it is those characteristics that have been honed in him as he navigated his way through a distinctly different life, but one he refused to let constrain his heart in his joy of life and of love.

Pat
sonnetcxxiii
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:17 pm

Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by sonnetcxxiii »

Hmmm, good question. I think the isolation part in the castle was meant to comfort women hearing this tale, that they are not alone in an unwanted marriage, and that maybe things will get better. If I remember correctly, most women married off at the time went to the groom's place of residence or at least with his family. So, she would have been removed from all of her support system. The isolation would have been three fold, from her family/friends, strange surroundings, and inside since no one seemed to want to do right by her. I am sure many women felt that way! And in a subtle way, it's a tale of self-reliance.

The Beast didn't have to threaten death to the Father. Could Beauty have ended up there another way? The Father could have accepted his fate but did not. One of the sisters could have said they'd go in her place.

Maybe the characters who posses this "positive" qualities are rare because it's hard to do the "right thing?"

I think what our show does very well, is makes those good qualities a choice, and not necessarily tied to upbringing or that some people are inherently evil. You know? And inside we constantly battle selfish needs with needs of others. How many times have others given up, but V and C always see the good. Makes me rethink some of my first reactions to things, and I think to myself, "Ok, try to go at the from a love/good perspective."
ArtemisHi
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 6:47 pm

Re: Mythology and Its Importance to BATB

Post by ArtemisHi »

Maclurv wrote:
Perhaps what makes Vincent so rare is not his countenance, his enhanced strength and abilities. Perhaps it is those characteristics that have been honed in him as he navigated his way through a distinctly different life, but one he refused to let constrain his heart in his joy of life and of love.
Pat


In my inexpert opinion, the strength of every B&B tale lies in the fact that the Beast's appearance and strength gave him distance enough to analyze himself, and Beauty's presence in his immediate life gave him the measuring stick of humanity to which he could hone his own self-revelations. For her, as she states in the version you were initially discussing, being faced with the sudden potential loss of what has become a trusted friend is her "aha!" moment that she loves him. When does Beast realize that he loves her? Certainly not Day 1 (unless you believe in love at first sight, which I don't), but my underlying assumption is that he knows himself better than Beauty knows herself (given his isolation and time to reflect) and thus his "aha!" moment is small, subtle, less of a transition than a finding of something.

In that context, our B&B fits, as surely Vincent's isolation (by nature of his nature, as you all eloquently discussed earlier) has allowed him some self-reflection whereas Catherine's physical and emotional challenges seem to really begin in the Pilot. (Not to say she had the easiest life earlier, knowing her mom passed away and she's a high-power woman in a man's world and all, but we don't SEE those, through flashbacks or reminiscing dialogue...and apparently every week or two, since the Pilot, she's had difficult physical, moral, legal, and emotional tasks to tackle, the kind of "difficult" that scars you). Her internal changes/transitions seem to be the effect of external pressures, whereas Vincent's are inherently the result of coping with an isolated life among outcasts who may love/use/befriend you but who are ultimately alien.

I'm also curious about the parallel with a man being valid in his own existence vs valid in the context of his usefulness to society (or his immediate community).

I can't recall a single conversation between Tunnel folk and Vincent where anyone attempts to gain insight into his unique perspective as "other". They all treat him as a furry man. The only time his "otherness" is outwardly acknowledged is when Father is making a point of it, or when everyone Below relies on Vincent to be their muscle. They may love him, listen to him, ask him to teach their children, etc...but they seem to place value more on WHAT he can do than WHO he is. They might not ever truly know him, but they could make an attempt.

In contrast, although Catherine's career path defines her (through the passion she has for it as her calling, as opposed to her title or salary) she is given value based on her characteristics more than her aptitude: she's compassionate, dedicated, a risk-taker, willing to believe in the fantastical, she's beautiful, she's stubborn, she endures, etc etc etc. She's seen within the context of conversations far more often than Vincent (excepting the two of them talking to each other), which indicates that she's more connected to her community than he is to his. Or bad TV script writing. Either way. (and granted, showing Catherine filing epic paperwork would be boring)

Is this meant to be a conscious (though subtle) reflection of the original fable? Or an indication of perceived gender roles in the '80s? Or a judgement on what the 'best of the best' romance is supposed to look like from an outside perspective? I wonder...

(apologies to Zara, I'm a talker...it's how I analyze, and thus how I understand, but it makes for lengthy everything)
-Beth
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