Hello and happy new year.
“but V and C always see the good.”
This is the fundamental truth of our show, the truth that singles it out for me and triggers my musings. The key word is “see”, I think. No need to elaborate on this symbolic sight, spread all over our show, perhaps even more than in the myth. Catherine is blind, then sees a monster, then sees beyond the monster. Vincent sees a thirsty soul, then sees a beautiful woman, then recognizes the thirsty soul beyond the beautiful “fixed” face. Compassion is what makes us see what *already* exists, and it makes the difference between delusional, or even optimistic approach to ugly things to make them bearable and… love, the truth beyond knowledge. And yes, it’s “a tale of self-reliance”, as Emily said, because the source is *within*. In fact…
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. (…) 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.
Perhaps the difference is that in the fairy tale the Beast’s self analyzing is prompted by the punishment, while Vincent, in my opinion, never feels punished. Apart from this, isolation, in this context, be it in a fairy castle, behind a blindfold or “below the city streets” - which for me is symbolic of the quiet of our soul - is a useful tool to look at one’s heart and find there the strength to be compassionate. Once found such strength, you can navigate any dark alley, be it in NYC or in your peers’ souls, and find a spark of beauty. You still can be crushed and frustrated, but somehow you know that the solution is not putting the blame on someone else: it would only lead to move from environment to environment, trying to find the perfect one where nobody can hurt you, while “if you live, you bleed”. No: Catherine did not stay Below in the safe cocoon of self-pity, she went back Above to test her “new” eyes. Only then the love story could start. Such *personal* decision to look at things with new eyes, I think, is the reply to the first two questions of Emily’s post: “what kind of free choices do we have?”, and “what is the most important kind of wealth?”.
So, I think that once found this inner source of compassion, there is no difference between “a man being valid in his own existence vs valid in the context of his usefulness to society (or his immediate community)” per Beth’s parallel, because such individuals will use the inner tool of their compassion in whatever environment the life put them. And it will make a difference disregarding the effectiveness or wideness of their action (but this last assertion is rooted in a personal spiritual take which is difficult to bring evidence to).
Apart from this, Beth, for now I’ll just thank you for it’s an interesting and stimulating prompt, but I’ll write more as soon as possible to disagree with your idea that “they seem to place value more on WHAT he can do than WHO he is”, as in my opinion, it’s exactly the opposite:
Mary: Vincent is very special to us. In some ways it's his fate, his life that holds us all together. He protects us and we protect him. (GBTC)
Vincent: You will let me go out, to do what must be done - whatever must be done?
Father: I pray that won't be necessary.
Vincent: So do I.
Father: That is not who you are, to us. (Outsiders)
Oh, and no need to apologize for length, not here. The inner isolated castle is a place of the heart we all need, don’t we? Reflecting, analyzing, understanding need time and length, and it’s a privilege to be allowed to share the others’ insights.